Pandemic, climate change, war with nuclear threat. Again: skyrocketing bills, energy rationing, inflation. The English word of the year is chosen by the Collins dictionary, but one could not agree more: it is “permacrisis”, a neologism that indicates “an extended period of instability and insecurity”. In short, the new normal is a constant anxiety, a survival in the balance between the concern for what is happening and for what may still happen.
“It sums up how horrible 2022 has been for so many people,” said Alex Beecroft, head of Collins Learning. Language can be a mirror of what is happening in society and the rest of the world. This year we had to face one challenge after another. We have experienced the upheavals caused by Brexit, pandemic, bad weather, war in Ukraine, political instability, energy rationing and cost of living crisis. It is normal that people now live in a state of uncertainty and constant worry ».
The origin of the concept of “permacrisis” is the pessimism that prevails in global society, the feeling that there is no way out and that we are close to the collapse of our civilization. A similar term had already been used by Hannah Arendt in her book “Crisis of Culture”, pointing out that any crisis that occurs in a particular place can then be replicated anywhere.
Among the words of 2022 reported by the Collins dictionary there are also “Kyiv”, a variant in Ukrainian language to the Russian transcription of Kiev, “partygate”, the political scandal over the parties organized in Downing Street in violation of anti-Covid restrictions during the pandemic and “Quite quitting”, that is to work within the times and in the manner indicated in the contract, without working overtime or assuming extraordinary responsibilities.