Tue, Dec 03, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Oxford Dictionaries declares ‘climate emergency’ the word of 2019

A house burns during a wildfire in Paradise, California, US on Nov. 8 last year.

Photo: AP

Oxford Dictionaries has declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate.

Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it,” Oxford said the words soared from “relative obscurity” to “one of the most prominent — and prominently debated — terms of 2019.”

According to the dictionary’s data, usage of “climate emergency” soared 10,796 percent.

Oxford said the choice was reflective of the rise in climate awareness, with the focus specifically on the language we use to discuss it. The rise of “climate emergency” reflected a conscious push toward language of immediacy and urgency, the dictionary said.

In May, the Guardian updated its style guide to clarify that “climate emergency” or “global heating” would be favored over “climate change” or “global warming” (although the original terms are not banned) to better reflect the scientific consensus that this was “a catastrophe for humanity.”

Hundreds of cities, towns and even countries have also declared “climate emergencies” during 2019 — from Scotland in April and the UK parliament in May to Canada, France and the city of Sydney in Australia.

“In 2018, climate did not feature in the top words typically used to modify emergency, instead the top types of emergencies people wrote about were health, hospital, and family emergencies,” the selection panel said.

“But with climate emergency, we see something new, an extension of emergency to the global level.”


1. climate emergency phr.


(qi4 hou4 jin3 ji2 zhuang4 tai4)

2. soar v.


(biao1 sheng1; bao4 zeng1)

3. prominent adj.


(xian3 zhu4 de5; zhong4 yao4 de5)

4. catastrophe n.

災難 (zai1 nan4)

5. modify v.

修飾 (xiu1 shi4)

6. linguist n.


(yu3 yan2 xue2 jia1)

7. cultural significance phr.


(wen2 hua4 yi4 yi4)

8. usage frequency phr.


(shi3 yong4 pin2 lu4)

And for those protesting that “climate emergency” is two words, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s resident linguist explained in 2017, single words can consist of two parts.

Such multipart constructions, like “heart attack,” “man-of-war” or the 2017 American Dialect Society word of the year “fake news,” are commonly accepted by linguists as words.

“Climate emergency” beat the words “climate crisis,” “climate action,” “climate denial,” “extinction,” “flight shame,” “global heating” and “plant-based,” which were on the shortlist.

The dictionary’s word of the year is chosen to “reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year” and should have “lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.”

“In 2019, climate emergency surpassed all of those other types of emergency to become the most written about emergency by a huge margin, with over three times the usage frequency of health, the second-ranking word,” Oxford said.

Previous choices for word of the year include “toxic” in 2018 and “youthquake” in 2017.

(The Guardian)

牛津字典宣布,二○一九年的年度詞彙為「climate emergency」(氣候緊急狀態),該詞的使用次數較之前增加了一百倍,顯示我們談論氣候時有「更大的急迫性」。

牛津字典將「climate emergency」定義為「需要採取緊急行動來應對的狀況,以減低或阻止氣候變化,避免其可能造成之不可逆轉的環境破壞」,該詞由「相對冷僻」躍升成為「二○一九年最突出及討論度最高的詞彙」。

根據牛津字典的數據,「climate emergency」的使用次數暴增了百分之一萬零七百九十六。

牛津字典表示,選擇該詞不僅是反映氣候意識的抬頭,所著重的更是我們討論它時所用的語言;「climate emergency」一詞的興起,反映了語言朝向立即性和緊迫性的有意識推進。

英國《衛報》在五月更新了格式手冊,說明應優先選擇「climate emergency」或「global heating」(全球熱化)這些詞彙,而非原本的「climate change」(氣候變化)或「global warming」(全球暖化)(雖然這些術語並未禁用),以便更能夠反映科學上的共識──這是「a catastrophe for humanity」(人類的災難)。



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