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What is the 2023 Word of the Year? What word best sums up the trends, events, and stories of the past 12 months? Listen to this episode to find out the 2023 Collins Dictionary Word of the Year, as well as some other Word of the Year contenders!

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The Word of the Year!

The 2023 Word of the Year has been announced by the Collins English Dictionary.

Collins Dictionary, like other organizations and dictionaries, typically selects a Word of the Year that reflects the notable trends, events, or changes in society during that specific year.

This word is often one that has seen a significant increase in usage and has come to symbolize the spirit or defining characteristics of the year.

For example, last year Collins chose the word permacrisis as the Word of Year meaning “an extended period of instability and insecurity.”

And in 2021, they chose the word NFT.

Today, let’s take a look at the 2023 Word of the Year and a couple of the runners up also announced by Collins. I will release a second part of this episode as a Patreon bonus episode on Friday in which I’ll look at the rest of the runners up.

So… What is the 2023 word of the year?

AI

The Collins Dictionary Word of the Year is… AI!

According to Collins dictionary, AI (short for artificial intelligence) is “the modelling of human mental functions by computer programmes.”

It is non-human intelligence that is based on our human intelligence.

Before this year, AI was not a secret. For example, self-driving cars used the technology to move themselves safely around roads. But it was not something that seemed accessible to normal people, and it definitely wasn’t something we would be using multiple times a day.

Over the past 12 months, things have changed. Artificial Intelligence has been everywhere; in every discussion among friends, in every business meeting, and in every Thinking in English episode.

Wait… in every Thinking in English episode?

For most of the year… yes – let me explain!

Last December, I had just left Japan after my student visa expired and was really unsure what would be happening in 2023. I was staying in my parent’s house over Christmas and decided to play with this new tool that had become popular online.

It was called Chat-GPT, and I was asking it stupid questions and making it create silly poems.

I was amazed at how quickly and naturally it could respond to requests and how many different functions it could perform.

As a small business owner, I also instantly saw that this technology could be incredibly useful. It would save time, simplify processes, and allow me to do things I could not do by myself.

I use a podcast recording software called Descript which uses a wide variety of AI tools to transcribe texts from audio. This has helped me make transcripts, but also do some cool editing tricks.

Descript allows you to train a replica of your own voice, and then use that to pronounce certain words in your script. So, if I say a word incorrectly or not very clearly, I can use my AI trained voice to correct it. It doesn’t work very well with reading an entire text, but for the odd word here or there you can not tell the difference.

I also use AI to help optimise my transcripts and blog articles for search engines.

I use AI to help explain difficult concepts in simple terms, or as a discussion partner when brainstorming ideas for episodes.

We use AI to grade or simplify our language when making model answers for our conversation club blog article and preparation materials.

I use artificial intelligence on Adobe and Canva when designing promotional materials for episode and social media posts.

I’ve also built an artificial intelligence powered writing tool for English learners.

AI is everywhere.

Of course, it was going to be voted the word of the year!

In fact, if you want to know more about AI you can listen to one of my many episodes on the topic from the past 12 months.

While AI was an obvious candidate for word of the year, I think you may be surprised and interested by some of the runners-up published by Collins!

So, let’s take a look at the other words of 2023!

Deinfluencing

The next word cited by Collins Dictionary on their Word of the Year list is deinfluencing. This is defined as “the use of social media to warn followers to avoid certain commercial products, lifestyle choices, etc.”

You have probably heard the term influencer used to describe online content creators. I guess you could probably describe me as an influencer of some kind.

Influencers get their name from the ability to influence their audience – and they can use this influence to sell products or encourage their audience to do something.

Deinfluencing is the opposite of this.

Rather than encouraging audiences to buy products, deinfluencing encourages audiences to not buy products. It is the name given to a recent trend focusing on stopping consumers from buying too many low-quality products and campaigning against false adverts.

Deinfluencing is a reaction to influencer culture. People who practice this approach online pride themselves on honesty with their audiences.

Last year I was approached by an American podcast network who wanted to invest in, or buy part of, Thinking in English. They wanted me to run ads for their partners, and I wouldn’t really have a choice in who I worked with.

Some of these products were relatively low-quality shaving equipment for men, headphones, wristwatches, VPNs, or other similar products you have probably seen be promoted online.

I had watched number of deinfluencing videos which reviewed these products, showed that they are overhyped and not worth the money, and presented much better and more affordable alternatives.

An example would be the watch brand MVMT which spends a lot of money on advertising. I thought they looked quite cool, and after hearing them promoted on a podcast a few years ago I thought I would look at some reviews online and see if I should buy one.

During my research I found that they just sell cheap watches you can order for a few dollars from Alibaba, and for the same price you can get a much better made Japanese watch.

While I’m not sure I count as a part of the deinfluencing movement, I only promote my own services, podcasts I think are good, and companies that I would also purchase products from (for example, I work with Lingoda because a few members of my team have previously been Lingoda students and said the quality of education was great)!

Deinfluencing is a movement to encourage you to think twice about trusting the recommendations of influencers and do your own research!

Ultra-processed

According to Collins Dictionary, the adjective ultra-processed refers to food that is “prepared using complex industrial methods from multiple ingredients, often including ingredients with little or no nutritional value.”

Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil created a food classification system called NOVA which places foods in categories depending on the amount of processing they undergo.

Unprocessed foods are sold and consumed in their natural state, or very close to natural. They don’t have extra ingredients added to them. Examples include vegetables and fruit, eggs, milk, and fish.

The next category is processed ingredients. This includes ingredients like sugar, salt, or oil. We usually don’t eat these foods by themselves. Instead, we add them to other ingredients.

A processed food is the result of adding unprocessed foods and processed ingredients together. Unless you only eat raw and unseasoned foods, you will eat processed foods every meal. According to the NOVA classification, a processed food is something that the average person could make themselves. Things like bread and cheese, pickled food, or canned vegetables.

Ultra-processed, the word on Collins Dictionary list, refers to foods that have multiple different ingredients including chemicals, additives, and preservatives that most people will not be able to use at home.

There are countless examples of ultra-processed foods: meats like ham, bacon, and sausages; snacks like potato chips and ice cream; and drinks including soda and some forms of alcohol.

As the ultra-processed food category is so varied it is difficult to draw general conclusions about the health consequences of ultra-processed foods. Many ultra-processed foods contain high levels of salt, sugar, and saturated fat.

Or, as the British Heart Foundation says, “eating a diet high in these foods suggests an overall lifestyle that is linked to poorer health.”

Health has been a major talking point over the past 12 months and ultra-processed foods have been a part of this discussion!

Debanking

As a nerd for politics and economics, I’ve been really interested in a phenomenon called debanking! Debanking is “the act of depriving a person of banking facilities.”

Earlier this year a major scandal occurred in the UK over the debanking of controversial politician Nigel Farage (the leader of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU a decade ago.)

Nigel Farage’s bank account with Coutts, an exclusive bank for the rich and famous, was closed at the end of June. After searching for a new account, Farage stated that he had been rejected by nine different banks, including NatWest, which owns Coutts, who offered him a personal account but not a business account.

Farage submitted a subject access request to Coutts and received a 40-page document revealing that the bank cut ties due to “significant reputational risks” associated with him, including his high profile, controversial views, alleged Russia connections, and misalignment with the firm’s values on LGBTQ+ rights and his friendship with Donald Trump.

In other words, the bank withdrew their services due to his poltiical beliefs.

In the aftermath of the controversy, banks are expecting reforms requiring them to give customers three months’ notice of account closures and provide a full explanation for the decision.

The UK is increasingly becoming a cashless society, and not having access to a bank account would make it nearly impossible to live and work successfully.

Farage is not the only person to experience debanking – over the past decade instances of debanking and unexpected bank account closures have increased significantly.

Greedflation

In 2023, I have personally noticed things becoming more and more expensive. From the price of my flight to Japan earlier this year, to the cost of a Big Mac in McDonalds, prices are rising.

While much of this is due to economic pressures and inflation, Collins Dictionary have included greedflation as one of the Words of the Year.

Greedflation is “the use of inflation as an excuse to raise prices to artificially high levels in order to increase corporate profits.”

Inflation causes prices to increase and the value of your money to fall. But it also gives a chance for greedy companies to raise their prices with the excuse of inflation even if it is not necessary. And according to supporters of the greedflation theory, greedy companies are a major factor behind increasing prices.

It is easy to blame companies for economic problems and inflation. We see record profits, combined with rising prices, and assume that they are being greedy and exploitative.

However, attributing inflation just to corporate greed might be a misunderstanding of cause and effect. In the U.S., for example, corporate profits didn’t grow due price rises but government support packages during the Covid pandemic, causing a consumer-spending boom and supply chain disruptions.

Another word you may need to know when discussing inflation is shrinkflation. Shrinkflation occurs when the size or quantity of a product decreases, but its price remains the same. Essentially, consumers get less for the same amount of money.

There was outrage in the UK a few years ago when the Swiss chocolate Toblerone increased the space between the famous triangles in their bars meaning there was less chocolate in the product. This was an example of Shrinkflation!

And hyperinflation is an extreme form of inflation that occurs when prices skyrocket at an exceptionally high and typically accelerating rate. It can lead to a loss of confidence in a currency, as in Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Weimar Germany!

Semaglutide

A semaglutide is “a medication used to suppress the appetite and control high blood sugar.” This is the medical name for the medication, but you may have heard of its US brand name Ozempic.

The main, and original, use of semaglutide is to help patients suffering with type 2 diabetes control thier blood sugar levels. It has been shown to improve diabetes patients’ health and reduce cases of heart attack and stroke.

This is not why Collins have named it among the words of the year.

In 2021, the drug was approved for use to treat obesity. The drugs are injected weekly and work by lowering blood sugar, regulating insulin, and mimicking (or copying) a hormone that reduces appetite. This can prompt feelings of fullness, slow stomach emptying, and lead to weight loss in people with obesity and related health issues.

Over the past 12 months, celebrities, tech mogul Elon Musk, and TikTok influencers have promoted the use of semaglutide for rapid weight loss.

Searching online you will find countless articles and references to Ozempic.

In fact, popularity of the drug caused serious shortages as doctors in the US were prescribing it for weight loss rather than giving it to the diabetic patients who really needed it for their health.

However, semaglutide based drugs like Ozempic could revolutionise the way we treat obesity and help millions of people trying to lose weight.

Final Thought!

In conclusion, the 2023 Word of the Year, as declared by the Collins English Dictionary, is “AI” – reflecting the current influence of artificial intelligence in our lives. This choice comes after a year marked by unprecedented integration of AI into various aspects of society, from business operations to podcast creation.

While AI was the obvious choice, Collins also highlights intriguing runners-up, such as “deinfluencing,” “ultra-processed,” “debanking,” “greedflation,” and “semaglutide”.

On Friday I will release the second part of this episode on Patreon. This episode will look at the rest of Collins Word of the Year contenders!

What is your personal word of the year? Leave your word of the year, and why it is your word of the year, in the comments!


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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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