By choosing “strollout” as the word of the year, the National Dictionary Center hints at a quintessentially Australian problem
The Australian National University announced its Word of the Year – and unsurprisingly, it was inspired by the pandemic.
- The word of the year 2021 is “strollout”, beating a shortlist that included “double vaxxed”
- Last year’s word, iso, was also on the topic of the pandemic
- The Australian National Dictionary Center says COVID-19 has seen hundreds of new words and phrases created
Strollout – a word that popped up in the first half of the year when critics of the federal government’s vaccine rollout began to signal perceived delays – has been crowned the most recent language icon of 2021.
Like last year’s pick, “iso,” the new word reveals how deeply the COVID-19 virus has shaped our culture.
But while “iso” – referring to the situation most of us found ourselves in for months to escape COVID-19 infection – was widely used, this year’s word cannot – not to be so well known.
Nonetheless, this is the one that comes with a bit of a sting.
Decided by the Australian National Dictionary Center, which is based at ANU, Director Amanda Laugesen said that while other words were more common, this particular word was of Australian origin only.
âFor many Australians, the pace of [vaccine] the deployment was considered too slow, âshe said.
The PM insisted early on that the vaccine rollout in Australia was ‘not a race’, but many disagreed, arguing about the pace needed to accelerate to save lives and bring back society back to normal as quickly as possible.
In May, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus echoed those frustrations.
âWe don’t have a vaccine rollout, we have a vaccine rollout,â she wrote on Twitter.
âElderly and disabled healthcare workers were all supposed to be vaccinated now. They are not. There are less than three weeks to go before winter – what’s the emergency? “
After hearing about the walkout accolades today, Ms McManus gave full credit to CUTA Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien – again, via Twitter.
“” Strollout “was named the word of the year. It was actually said by [Mr O’Brien] during an internal CUTA meeting when we were discussing our frustration with the Morrison government’s lack of urgency to immunize elderly care, âshe said.
The history of Strollout and its international appeal
“Strollout” refers to the debate that developed over whether Scott Morrison had done enough to secure the millions of doses of Pfizer that would later be in such enormous demand.
But as word spread on Twitter, Mr Morrison defended the pace of the vaccine rollout during Question Time, saying decisions about supply were made on the basis of health advice.
“The reference to ‘not a race’ was first made by Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy,” Morrison said in early June.
“And I confirmed his remarks from the Secretary of Health … because throughout this pandemic, one of the key factors that our government and the governments of the country and the governments of other countries have always been aware of is expert advice informing the decisions we make. “
But the “walk” has made its way all the same.
By July it had gone global – the Washington Post used it while asking how only six percent of Australians could be vaccinated when other countries were so far ahead, under the headline “The vaccine release from the Australia shows dangers of COVID appeasement.
The word was also raised as decisions were made to send more doses to communities most affected by COVID-19, including Sydney.
Dr Laugesen said the Word of the Year was “another example of how a truly Australian phrase can make waves around the world”.
âAs the Delta strain of COVID-19 spread across Australia, the urgency to vaccinate the population became clear, with words like vaccination centers, vaccine reluctance, vaccine passports, vaccine rollout and double vaxxed gaining in importance, âsaid Dr Laugesen.
Pandemic a busy time for words
âStrolloutâ wasn’t the only word to pop up during the pandemic.
In fact, it has been a very successful time for those who study this sort of thing.
âI think the really interesting thing about COVID is that it’s been so productive in terms of its own particular lexicon,â Dr Laugesen told ABC Radio Canberra.
On the shortlist were other notable words that have become common parlance over the year, including “AUKUS” and “net zero”, both showing that the center does not shy away from tackling controversial topics.
Dr Laugesen said the “double vaxxed” had been a serious contender for the top spot, in part because it had been used much more in Australia than in other countries, with the possible exception of Canada. .
But ultimately, the word chosen conjures up an issue that could remain central to the national conversation as the country prepares to go to the polls.