The Slovenia Times

Calamity Slovenian word of 2023

A massive clean-up effort underway after devastating floods. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Slovenians have selected calamity (ujma) as the word of 2023, while the sign for solidarity has been picked the gesture of the year in sign language, both selected in the wake of devastating floods that hit the country in the summer.

This is the second time in a row that natural disasters affected the lives of Slovenians to such a degree as to be reflected in the word of the year declared by the top authority on Slovenian language. The word of 2022 was firefighter, after thousands had fought the worst wildfire in Slovenia's history that summer.

The runner-up to the word of the year was nutria, owing to a contested nutria cull on the Ljubljana Marshes, while reading literacy was in third place after Slovenian children tested poorly in the most recent PISA study.

Over 4,000 people submitted their votes for one of the 11 words and five gestures short-listed by a panel put together by the Fran Ramovš Institute at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU).

Flood came second among the nominated gestures, followed by etymological dictionary. The short list also included the gestures for siren and accessibility, said panel member Valerija Škof of the umbrella organisation for the hearing impaired as the word and gesture of the year were declared on 9 January.

The words shortlist also included high prices, which made it to fourth place, followed by AI. Also on the list were gentrification, storm cell, GP, war and handsome.

The latter, zal in Slovenian, an archaic word for handsome, was shortlisted because the word saw the largest increase in searches on the Fran language portal last year. Other frequently searched words included cattle, empower, work and obedience.

The event was addressed by ZRC SAZU director Oto Luthar, who said he missed truth and poverty on the list of words that marked last year the most.


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