Word of the Year 2011

In Awards on December 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

As 2011 draws to a close I’m publishing, once again, my annual awards of the year. There’ll be a few prizes being given out over the next few weeks covering a range of topics. Regular followers of these awards will be familiar with the standard categories such as Museum Object of the Year and Sandwich of the Year. And there’ll be some new categories this year too. Turner Prize, this aint.

At a festive gathering of other freelancers this yuletide, I posed the regular question about Word of the Year.

What word or phrase sums up the last twelve months? In years to come when we look back at 2011, how will we sum it up, or describe it in one word?

Last year seemed to be a bit simpler. 2010 was defined by words like coalition, deficit, wikileaks and vuvuzela. But 2011 has been a bit more tricky.

Runners up in our incredibly scientific vote were RIOT, PHONE HACKING, ARAB SPRING and FENTON!

But the winner was UPRISING.

That’s a bit of a surprise to me – I mean it’s been a hugely important year in terms of people taking to the streets and making their voices heard (or not heard in some cases) but it seems a bit strong to say that 2011 is the most significant year in terms of uprisings.

I’d probably cite 1789, 1917, 1956 and 1989 as years of pretty impressive uprisings, if asked. I wonder if 2011 is really as impactful as those years?

Reflecting on this, I suppose that those four years stick out in our minds as individual instances of uprisings – be it in France, Russia, Hungary or East Germany. 2011 stands out from these years as a time when people felt the need to rise up and seek to overcome their oppressors – be it in Egypt, Libya, Syria or Wall Street. It’s been a year of amazing change across the Middle East and the wider world and the ways in which uprisings have been coordinated – using the Web, facebook and twitter – and the speed with which we have learned about them has been unprecedented.

So maybe UPRISING does sum up this year pretty well.

Strangely DOWNTON ABBEY didn’t get a vote. But PANDA did.


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