Canberra Bubble named 2018 Word of the Year by Australian National Dictionary Centre
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In a year where tumult and turmoil in federal politics has dominated headlines, it might not come as a surprise that the 2018 word of the year epitomises political navel-gazing.
It’s the Canberra bubble.
Word of the Year 2018 shortlist:
- Canberra bubble: The insular environment of federal politics
- Bag rage: Anger provided in a customer by the removal of free plastic bags at the checkout
- Blockchain: A system in which records are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network
- Drought relief: Financial or practical assistance given to those in special need or difficulty due to severe drought conditions
- Fair dinkum power: dispatchable energy; coal, as contrasted with renewable sources of energy
- NEG (National Energy Guarantee): A regulatory obligation imposed on energy companies to provide a reliable supply of energy while meeting emissions reduction targets
While the phrase has been around for more than 12 months, its ascension into the popular lexicon has mirrored that of its most prolific user, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Politics provided plenty of fodder for the annual shortlist, which included “fair-dinkum power” — a reference to reliable energy, and the drier terms “drought relief” and “National Energy Guarantee”.
Amanda Laugesen from the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University said ‘Canberra bubble’ best reflected the past 12 months in Australia.
“Politics, as ever, featured pretty strongly in the language of the year,” she said.
“Scott Morrison’s usage of it certainly brought it to our attention.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintains he is not in the Canberra bubble. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)
Another term that entered the Aussie lexicon over the past year was “bag rage” — the feeling of white-hot fury that erupts when major supermarket chains move to end the distribution of free single-use shopping bags.
“Bag rage is one of these terms that we saw come up and spike in usage in Australia this year, for a brief time, referring to people’s responses in certain parts of Australia to essentially being made to pay for their plastic shopping bags when they go to the shops,” she said.
Similarly Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, was shortlisted for its impact around the world.
But Dr Laugesen said Canberra bubble beat them all.
“Canberra bubble was interesting to us because it had a bit of a story — it was a word that had been around for a little while but we saw it really spike in usage in 2018,” she said.
“We’ve seen the use of Canberra bubble by politicians … often wanting to distance themselves from the Canberra bubble, saying they’re not a part of it.
“But of course what us outsiders see when we look at what’s going on in Parliament is that they’re actually preoccupied with their own issues and problems.
“For people who live in Canberra of course it’s frustrating because we think it’s obviously a city of much more diversity and we have real-life problems as well.”