Many people consider choices from dictionary publishers, including artificial intelligence, authentic or rizz, to be “words of the year.” But the Associated Press reported on some words used in other parts of the world that have been gaining popularity.
So today, we will look at other words from around the world for 2023.
Password child in Australia
In Australia, the local Macquarie Dictionary has been selecting a “word of the month” all year. One was “cozzie livs,” a word that Australians use to complain about the high cost of living. Another was “murder noodle” for a snake in a country that is home to the world’s most poisonous snake.
But “password child” is a word that many parents can recognize. Australians use the term to describe children seen as favored over their brothers or sisters because their name is used in their parents’ passwords.
Kitawaramba in Kenya (Swahili)
Paul Mackenzie, a cleric in the East African nation of Kenya, said the word “kitawaramba” on his way to court. He was accused of asking his followers to starve themselves in order to meet Jesus. More than 400 people died as a result.
The unfamiliar word appeared to be a threat. Now Kenyans use it to warn others that something bad might happen to them for their actions.
Bwa kale in Haiti (Creole)
Criminal groups have brought violence, including killings and kidnappings, to the daily lives of people in Haiti, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea.
Civilians have been fighting back and saying “bwa kale” as they chase suspected criminals. “Bwa Kale” means “peeled wood” in the Haitian Creole language.
The term had long been used to express male dominance and power. Now it has spread overseas. A video on social media shows a group of Latino soccer fans saying “Bwa kale!” after their team beat an opponent.
Spy balloon in the United States
No other word represents the tension between China and the United States more than “spy balloon.”
It began when a Chinese balloon entered U.S. airspace over Alaska. The balloon then flew slowly and stayed over some western states that were home to sensitive military areas. U.S. warplanes followed it for several days before shooting it out of the sky over water off the coast of South Carolina.
China protested the downing and called it an attack on a “weather balloon” by U.S. military forces. A witness to the downing of the balloon compared it to a “Top Gun movie.”
税 (zei) in Japan (Japanese)
The top Buddhist leader at the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto wrote the word 税 (zei) in a closely watched yearly event.
The Japanese public chose “zei,” which means taxes, to best represent the year 2023. Many expect taxes to increase to pay for the country’s military buildup. Under the latest national security plan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government aims to double Japan’s yearly defense spending to about $69 billion. That would make the country the world’s third largest military spender after the U.S. and China.
山道猴子 (shan dao hou zi) in Taiwan (Mandarin)
山道猴子 (shan dao hou zi) or mountain road monkey was first used to describe young Taiwanese who like to ride motorcycles fast through the country’s winding mountain roads.
But the term became a popular expression for young people’s economic pressures after a 20-minute film on YouTube called The Life of a Mountain Roadmonkey.
In the movie, the “roadmonkey” lends his girlfriend money to improve her bike, but she cheats on him and leaves him. In debt, he works overtime to make money, does not have time for friends, and finally dies in a crash.
His story started a discussion about the low pay and long hours for many in Taiwan, where housing and traditional “success” are often out of reach.
The nones around the world
In many countries, there has been a big increase in the number of people who select the word “none” when asked about their religion.
The nonbelievers, atheists, or agnostics have become known as the “nones.”
The “nones” are believed to make up of 30 percent or more of the adult population in the United States and Canada, as well as several European countries. Japan, Israel and Uruguay are among other nations where large numbers of people are “nones.”
And that’s the world in "other" words for 2023.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do adapted this Associated Press report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
complain –v. to express your unhappiness about a situation or something someone has done
peel –v. to remove the skin or outer layer from a fruit or similar object
dominance –n. the quality of being the most powerful or the leader of others
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