The word “Star” or the word “Voldemort”, the word “Beating” or the word “Rocket”… Overview of the words that made us talk a lot in 2022 with Elodie Laye Mielczareck, semiolinguist, specialized in verbal and non-verbal language verbally.
The end of the year is fast approaching: the opportunity to look back on the words and evils that have shaped the year 2022. Whether they are “star” wordshown for one year, or word “rocket”which is increasing with increasing use, or word “beats”, recurring and present in watermark for several years, these words knead a semantic pool in which we bathe collectively. We also find word “Voldemort”, which-we-shouldn’t-pronounce-anymore-the-sound, on the way to becoming taboo. A more enviable fate, perhaps, than these word has beenwhich, due to being overused, have lost their substance and wander like zombies in our language.
This year, six main themes occupied our minds : digital, economy, transition, social/community, relational difficulties and “feeling good”. If this is a good sign, words relating to the medical register and the pandemic take a little less center stage.
Digital: multiverse or multiverse, metaverse or metaverse…
This is the universe where we find the most “star” words! The terms NFT and metaverse have indeed hit the headlines in 2022. You will notice the linguistic ambivalence in the pronunciation and writing of the term metaverse. With or without e, with or without accent? French “metaverse”? This shows us two important aspects. Primarily, these spelling and language hesitations reflect a usage that has yet to be determined and a presentation that has yet to be determined… We are at the beginning of the phenomenon, still poorly understood. Then these errors are also connected with the influence of the English language on French. For example, we talk about “multiverse” in French and about “multiverse” in English. However, the French web is flooded with the word metaverse, written in the American way but pronounced in French… Don’t try to understand, languages develop according to their own logic.
Still in this digital universe, we notice a loss of speed in certain terms such as “avatar”, only updated by James Cameron’s film, or even the term “virtual reality”, more used in 2017. If the term “youtuber” entered the dictionary in several year, it will be necessary to wait until 2023 before the term “instagrammer” is there. But the social network that has gotten the most ink flowing is, you guessed it, Twitter. The takeover controversies of Elon Musk will have stolen the show from other social platforms, thus recalling an injunction of our time: “Whether people talk about me good or bad, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that people talk about me! ( Lemon).
Economy: sobriety, austerity, a-growth… and inflation
Let’s move on to the other key theme of 2022: the economy. It is impossible to ignore this concern, both collective and individual. It is in this theme that we find other words “Star”, but also the words “Voldemort”… One of the “Star” words in 2022 is undoubtedly the term “sobriety”, reflecting the recording of the President’s speech imprinted around leitmotif “the end of plenty”. This emphasis brings in the wake of a word “Voldemort”: no longer speaks of “poor” but of people “in a situation of sobriety little”. Newspeak updated by Agnès Pannier-Runacher, current minister for energy transition.
We also note that the term “austerity”, a theme of the 2017 presidential campaign that was used extensively in April 2020, is now relegated to the bottom of the drawer. More attractively replaces the term “sobriety”. Although some already prefer the term “austerity”, another “star” word is from 2022. This makes concepts like “consumption” and “degrowth”, “star” terms from 2019, look old. To get around the problem, some intellectuals come up with neologisms, such as Gaspard Koening’s “a-croissance”.
But the word “Star” from 2022 remains “inflation”. Its corollary, “purchasing power,” remains a word “beat.” Regularly used for many years, the theme of purchasing power is still a recurring chestnut this year. It should be noted that the adjective, subtle but present in recent years, in “felt” purchasing power, is less frequent. Is it because the “psychologicalization” of the phenomenon (imagining having an empty wallet when everything is fine) has become obscene? This winter, it seems we are collectively stepping into the harsh reality…
Transition: apocalypse, war, conflict and transformation
The vocabulary of “pandemic” in 2020 gives way to the term “apocalypse”. Very present in 2019, the word has been put back on the agenda. Fire and fire will have characterized the summer spirits, but not only. International instability will also have brought the notions of “war”, “conflict” and “armament” to the fore. In its wake, the offended “human rights” appear. We are of course thinking of Ukraine.
As for the terms “rebellion” and “revolution” widely used to evoke Iran, the words “beats” remain present in the background in a steady and recurring manner since 2019.
How can we talk about change without talking about ecology? Or rather “eco-terrorism”. The neologism made its debut with great fanfare and appeared on many magazine covers. The term eco-anxiety is a “rocket” word, it continues its momentum, just as the word “solastalgia” continues to inhabit our representations. The terms “survivalism” (the 2018 “Star” word), “collapse” (the 2017 “Star” word), and “collapsology” (the 2020 “Star” word) are slowing their marching speed.
For their part, the terms “change” and “impact,” which are mostly 2019-2020 words, continue their momentum. Their siblings, “transition” and “transformation” peak in 2022. Like the word “climate” updated by Cop27.
Social / societal: company with a mission, greener image, de-transition
As the Covenant Act makes its debut in 2019, the term “business with a mission” floods 2022 with some stability. Without wanting to be too unpleasant, I would like to point out that the term “image greening”, a literal translation of the English “greenwashing”, is entering the 2023 edition of Robert. A random one?
The polemical notions of “woke” or “wokism” are above all part of the vocabulary in 2021. The same applies to the notions of “intersectionality”, “inclusive writing” and use of the pronoun “iel”. The terms “trans identity” and “degender” have been stable for several years. In 2022, the term “gender transition” will peak. Note the appearance of new constructions around the same root with the lexemes “de-transition” (back to one’s original gender) or “de-transitioners”. (Hyperlink: Mila testimony).
Relationship difficulties: asshole, oversensitive, conflict, diplomacy
“Bullshit” was invited from the first days of the new school year. The term often rhymes with editorial success. After Psychology of bullshite published in 2018, so What to do with jerks? in 2019, Virginie Despentes updates the subject with her book Dear asshole. What translates to a certain atmosphere in the offices, reopened after a series of lockdowns…
The relational dynamic certainly doesn’t seem to be looking good! Have we become intolerant or “oversensitive”? Here is a word “rocket”. Under the spotlight for many years, the term continues to gain momentum. In this somewhat gloomy, even aggressive interpersonal atmosphere, “stress management” recipes are ever present. As we have seen, “conflict” is one of the “star” words in 2022. less in 2022 to the sphere of religious “radicalization”, but to more significant political positions. Rest assured, the term “diplomacy” is coming up more and more frequently, enough to illuminate a somewhat shady relational sky?
Have a good time: chill, silent resignation, macro
Faced with this somewhat harsh environment, how can one not be tempted by a “cocooning” interior? The term remains very trendy… In the same atmosphere, we discover for the 2023 edition of Robert the verb “chill”. IKEA was the first brand to use it in a slogan, “Chill at home”, in 2020. Since then, the verb has not denied its success and is regularly invited into our lexical landscape. Many Anglicisms, you will have noticed, to convey these notions of relaxation. “Netflix and Chill” seems to have become a real watchword since the pandemic… to make us rethink our vision of work?
The phrase “quiet quitting” (or “quiet quitting”) is “Star” in 2022… Do as little as possible? The term “lazy”, “Star” in 2020, is on everyone’s mind as I write these lines. In June the newspaper Point with the headline “Where has the taste for effort gone? “. In October, Le Figaro, meanwhile, with the headline “La grande lazy: how France is losing its taste for effort”. Far from being anecdotal, these titles are symptomatic of crystallized tensions around the concept of “work,” a term whose recurrent use nonetheless indicates a center of interest.
Finally, in a lighter, even humorous way, how can we ignore the emergence of this antonomasia? The real name of the President of the Republic will have become a common noun…, more precisely a verb! Will “Macroner” one day enter the official dictionaries? This expression born in the Ukrainian trenches translates as “being very concerned about a situation but doing nothing”. If the images of an Emmanuel Macron in a military top have toured Europe, the phrase “Stop Macroner” is also…