Oxford Dictionary: Word of the year 2017 – Youthquake (Tuổi trẻ động)

Woty youthquake banner 760x220

Word of the Year 2017 is…

As 2017 draws to a close, we turn to language to help us mark where we have been, how far we have come, and where we are heading.

One word has been judged as not only reflective of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of this past year, but as having lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is… youthquake.

The noun, youthquake, is defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’.

TĐH: Youthquake = Tuổi trẻ động

© Oxford University Press 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Why was ‘youthquake’ chosen?

The data collated by our editors shows a fivefold increase in usage of youthquake in 2017 compared to 2016, the word having first struck in a big way in June with the UK’s general election at its epicentre.

Word of the Year 2017 youthquake data

On 18 April, Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the Conservatives, called a snap election triggering seven weeks of intense political campaigning. After the British public went to the polls on 8 June, headlines emerged of an unexpected insurgence of young voters.

So despite higher engagement figures among the baby boomer generation and despite Labour ultimately ending up with fewer seats than the Conservatives in the House of Commons, many commentators declared that ‘It was the young wot “won” it for Jeremy Corbyn’, and dubbed their collective actions a ‘youthquake’.

Word of the Year 2017 youthquake data

It was in September that the second, and largest, spike in usage of youthquake was recorded for the year – and a youthquake wasn’t even required to deliver this data.

Thanks to the precedent established in the UK, in New Zealand use of youthquake to discuss young people’s engagement in politics was rapidly picked up by politicians and the press alike during the country’s general election. The word enjoyed increased and sustained usage both prior to and after the polling, setting youthquake firmly on its way to become a fixture of political discourse.

When was ‘youthquake’ coined?

In 1965, emerging from a post-war period of tumultuous change, Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, declared the year of the youthquake.

In an editorial in the Vogue US January edition that year, she wrote: ‘The year’s in its youth, the youth in its year. … More dreamers. More doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 1965.’

Vogue US January 1965 edition, youthquake

Vreeland coined youthquake – based on the pattern of ‘earthquake’ – to describe the youth-led fashion and music movement of the swinging sixties, which saw baby boomers reject the traditional values of their parents.

As in 2017, the UK was at the heart of the youthquake, with ‘the London Look’ of boutique street-style individualism taking the high fashion houses of Paris, Milan, and New York by storm to inform a new mass-produced, ready-to-wear fashion directive worldwide.

A word we can all rally behind

Sometimes a Word of the Year is selected in recognition of its arrival, but other times it is a word that has been knocking at the proverbial door and waiting to be ushered in.

Our choice of language illuminates our preoccupations, and as this tumultuous year draws to a close, our President of Dictionaries Casper Grathwohl believes that it is time for a word we can root for and collectively empower as Word of the Year – a word we can all rally behind.

In this blog post, he offers a behind-the-scenes look at the selection process for youthquake as Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2017, plus his take on a word ‘imbued with hope’ for the future: Youthquake: behind-the-scenes on selecting the Word of the Year.

The shortlist

Out of the plethora of words suggested and discussed, only nine made it to the final shortlist, before youthquake was crowned Word of the Year 2017. Here are the final eight:

Word of the Year 2017 shortlist

Why did these eight words merit our shortlist? Find out here: Word of the Year 2017: the shortlist.

~

Additional references: Jožef Stefan Institute Timestamped Web Corpus, and BYU NOW Corpus

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One thought on “Oxford Dictionary: Word of the year 2017 – Youthquake (Tuổi trẻ động)

  1. Trong khi đó, Nhật chọn từ “Bắc” (chữ Hán) là từ của 2017, nói về đe dọa nguyên tử từ Bắc Triều tiên

    Japan picks ‘North’ as 2017 symbol amid N Korea threat

    Seihan Mori wrote the Chinese character for ''North'' on a large panel in Kyoto [AFP]
    Seihan Mori wrote the Chinese character for ”North” on a large panel in Kyoto [AFP]

    Japan has chosen the Chinese character for “North” as its traditional defining symbol of 2017 after a series of launches of North Korean missiles, several of which plunged into the Pacific Ocean near Japan’s territorial waters.

    Japanese TV stations on Tuesday broadcast the annual announcement, in which Seihan Mori, master of the ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, wrote the Kanji character on a white panel using a calligraphy brush.

    Kanji are the adopted Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system, along with other types of alphabets.

    The choice of “North” as this year’s defining symbol reflects unease over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, the event organiser, said in a statement.

    “It was the year in which people felt threatened and anxious by North Korea following repeated ballistic missile launches and a nuclear test,” the statement said.

    At the end of every year, the general public votes for a Chinese character they think embodies the key news and events of the previous 12 months.

    A total of 7,104 people out of 153,594 voted for the character “North”.

    A 38-year-old woman from northern Fukushima prefecture who voted for the character said she was “constantly scared of North Korean missiles”.

    “Our generation never experienced war … What if a missile actually falls on Japan? It is horrifying,” she said, according to the organiser.

    Last year, Japan picked “gold” to celebrate the success of Japanese athletes winning gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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