South Africa: Pan South African Language Board (Pansalb) On Word of the Year 2018

press release

Land expropriation without compensation is South Africa word of the year 2018

#SAWordoftheYear #DictionaryDay

Today, 16 October 2018, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in association media research companies Focal Points and Newsclip proclaims land expropriation without compensation as its 2018 South African Word of the Year. The South African Word of the Year is a term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language.

Candidates for word of the year were reviewed by PanSALB and then debated their merits, choosing one that captures the philosophy, mood, or obsessions of that particular year.

All findings are based on research conducted by Focal Points and Newsclip on factual statistics found within South African media and serve as credible sources.

Using Focal Points and Newsclip keywords were tracked for the period 1 January to 15 October 2018. This media data was analysed to determine the prominence of the keywords within the media and to identify the frequency that they were used in credible print, broadcast and online media.


Occurrences - The number of times the keyword was used in the articles.

Clip Count - The number of articles that the keyword was mentioned in.


It was found that "land expropriation without compensation" was used over 25 000 times in all South African media (print, broadcast and online) beating words like Commission (of inquiry) at 18 690 and Thuma mina at 5228.

The use of the word land expropriation without compensation has increased significantly in 2018. The concept of land expropriation without compensation has been in existence, but PanSALB has seen a spike in frequency this year in the context of Parliament's effort to change the constitution to allow land to be expropriated without compensation.

The choice echoes a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse. It does not look like the usage of the term will slow down in the near future especially if one takes into account that Parliament is still trying to amend the constitution to allow land to be expropriated without compensation.

The SA Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past twelve months. To qualify for consideration we look for evidence that its usage has increased significantly across a broad range of media (print, broadcast and online).

Issued by: Pan South African Language Board

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