“VOICE” has been named Australia’s word of the year for 2019.
Each year the Australian National Dictionary Centre, based at the ANU, picks a word or expression that has gained prominence in the national conversation in the last 12 months.
“Voice” was chosen from a shortlist of prominent terms including “fish kill”, “climate emergency”, “influencer” and “quiet Australians”.
Director Dr Amanda Laugesen said the idea of an indigenous ‘voice to parliament’ came to national attention following the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which called for a “First Nations Voice” to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
“We saw ‘voice’ increase considerably in usage through 2019; it was also central to our public debate,” Dr Laugesen said.
“The issue was reignited by Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, who proposed a legislated ‘voice to government’, prompting heated discussion about what form a voice should take, and what it means.
“Prof Marcia Langton has noted this lack of definition in the debate about ‘voice’, and called for much more precise language to be used.”
“From our list we like to choose a term that is distinctively Australian,” Dr Laugesen said. “‘Voice’ was the front runner.”
The words on the shortlist reflect a number of events that had an impact in 2019.
“Climate-related terms were significant this year,” Dr Laugesen said.
“Fish kill was a term we became familiar with after seeing fish die at Menindee Lakes in January.
“Climate emergency, Oxford Dictionaries’ international Word of the Year, increased considerably in usage in Australia throughout 2019. Both of these made our shortlist.”
The full 2019 shortlist includes:
- climate emergency: the immediate threat posed by climate change and global warming.
- fish kill: the sudden death of a large number of fish in a single event.
- influencer: a person who uses their profile on social media to promote products and services.
- quiet Australians: those Australians regarded as holding moderate opinions but who are unlikely to express them publicly.