In a recent survey, “worry (憂)” was selected as the word that best represents public feeling about the soon-to-end year.
The survey, conducted jointly by the Far Eastern Memorial Foundation and the Chinese-language United Daily News, asked respondents to choose words that they think best epitomize this year.
The results showed that “worry” ranked highest on a list of words recommended by nearly 100 academics and members of the public.
Worry was followed by “rising (漲),” “turnaround (轉),” “feeling (感),” “misery (慘)” and “depressed (鬱).” The other words that rounded out the top 10 were “hardship (苦),” “grievance (怨),” “poverty (窮)” and “sucks (爛).”
Most of the words are negative in nature, suggesting collective gloom among the public about the year.
Academia Sinica vice president Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who recommended the word “worry” for the list, said the survey shows the public shares his feelings.
He said the international situation, the European debt crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, stagnant and shrinking salaries, rising prices, confrontation between the government and opposition parties, Taiwan’s falling competitiveness and even doomsday predictions are making “every one of us worried.”
However, he also expressed hope that the public will try to find solutions so that “there will be no worries next year.”
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said that all countries, including Taiwan, are facing rigorous tests because of the European debt crisis.
Despite the economic downturn, Fan Chiang said there have been some positive signs since September, including the industrial production index, exports and the general economic outlook taking a turn for the better.
He cited President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as saying that he “sees a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Wang Min-sheng (王閔生), a spokesman for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Ma has been in office for more than four years and that people have been worried for a long time.
Pacific Sogo Department Store chairwoman Sophia Huang (黃晴雯) said that people are feeling worried because they care about the country.
She said that “worry can bring depression, but can also bring strength.”
The word “turnaround” recommended by Far Eastern Group chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東), ranked third, the highest of the positive words in the survey, and this word represents strength, she said.
The word “worry” shows the collective mentality of Taiwanese and the words ranking second to 10th illustrate why they are worried, the survey said. For example, the word “rising” shows the public’s concern about rising prices, while the word “feeling” represents public sentiment about the “insensitivity” of the government in pushing its policies.
The eighth-ranked word, “grievance,” is a sign of worry about an increasing rivalry between the governing and opposition parties and the widening gap between rich and poor, the survey said.
The ninth word — “poverty” — is a reflection of the government’s financial turmoil as embodied by the controversy over year-end bonuses for retired civil servants.
In 2008, the first year of the word survey, the word “chaos” was selected and eight of the 10 top words were negative. In 2009, the top word was “long for (盼),” while negative words dropped to six. In 2010, “light (淡)” was chosen and the only negative word was “rising.” Last year, “like (讚)” was top and the only negative word was “worry.”