The various dictionaries have announced their words of 2021 and to no one’s surprise, they are both related to the pandemic.
The Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year is based on usage evidence drawn from Oxford’s continually updated corpus of more than 14.5 billion words, gathered from news sources across the English-speaking world. The selection is meant to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the preceding year, while also having the potential as a term of lasting cultural significance. It has traditionally been a scholarly yet often a light-hearted effort, highlighting both cultural change and English’s sometimes goofy way of reflecting it. But last year, the company forwent a single choice and instead highlighted the pandemic’s sudden and pervasive influence on the language more broadly.
The Oxford Language’s 2021 Word of the Year is “Vax”. After analysing 14.5 billion words used in daily news coverage in 2021, they found the word Vax was used 72 times as much as it was in 2020. A relatively rare word until this year, by September it was over 72 times more frequent than at the same time last year and has generated numerous derivatives that we are now seeing in a wide range of informal contexts, from vax sites and vax cards to getting vaxxed and being fully vaxxed, no word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax. The word Vax highlights the medical breakthroughs and the rise of COVID vaccines across the world.
The word vaccine was first recorded in English in 1799, following the British scientist Edward Jenner’s experiments with inoculation against smallpox. In early reports on his experiments, the word vaccine, derived from the Latin Vacca, or cow, was used to refer to the disease and the material from the cowpox pustules he injected into his human research subjects. It was only decades later, according to Oxford’s report on its research, that vaccine came to be used for inoculation against other diseases. Curiously, while the shortened form vax did not appear until the 1980s, the term anti-vax — spelt anti-vacks — appeared early.
Runners-up on this year’s list were “vaccinate,” which increased in use 34-fold this year, and “vaccination,” up 18-fold.
The Cambridge Dictionary has announced “Perseverance” as its Word of the Year 2021. It’s a word that perfectly captures the undaunted will of people across the world to never give up, despite the many challenges of 2021. Perseverance is defined as the continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time and the word has been looked up globally more than 243,000 times during 2021.
Prior to 2021, perseverance didn’t appear noticeably in lookups on the Cambridge Dictionary website. However, a spike of 30,487 searches for perseverance occurred between 19–25 February 2021, after NASA’s Perseverance Rover made its final descent to Mars on 18th February.
The Collins Dictionary has on the other hand chosen the cutting edge “NFT” or “Non-Fungible Token” as their word of the year. NFT is defined as a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible. Other finalists for the word of the year were pandemic-related words like “double vaxxed” and “hybrid working” as well as “Crypto,” short for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and “cheugy,” meaning clunky or outdated.
Happy New Year! May this year give wings to your dreams and you watch them come true!
This is the last week of the holidays before school starts on Monday and so GG & BB are trying to get as much as they can with friends. Holidays are over and it’s back to work and school from Monday.
Last week S turned 50 and we had a small intimate celebration at home for him over the weekend. It was just family mainly because of the safe distancing protocals where we can only have five other guests in the house. So we only invited S’ mum, aunt and sister and her family. It’s was a very nice night of talk and laughter and the menu was inspired by Mumbai’s street foods.
I have also booked my tickets for my flight to India and I am so excited. But there is also a tinge of fear about the increasing surge of COVID-19 cases because of the Omicron variant. But I am going to go with a positive mindset and take as many precautions as possible so that I come back unscathed.
Today’s positive quote is from the Indian author, activist and motivational speaker, Shiv Khera, best known for his book, You Can Win. Khera says that positive action combined with positive thoughts lead to success. So that’s a good quote to think about at the beginning of the year and use that as our guiding principle for the year which is what I am going to do.
Today 2021 will end and with this, we all have finished yet another year filled with uncertainties in a world that is so different from just two years back.
2021 was an extension of 2020 and we continued to be masked and take steps to protect ourselves. This year, the adults in the house got both doses of the COVID vaccination as well as the booster shot. The children also got both their vaccine doses, and are scheduled to get their booster shots in January. Masking has become a way of the way here and everyone has their preferred type of mask, whether disposable or reusable.
BB and GG are in the second year of their course and it looks like they will continue to finish their course without really experiencing poly life. GG is doing pretty well in school and I am super impressed with her work ethic and dedication so she can realise her dreams. She will also start her industrial attachment or internship in the first half of 2022 and we are hoping the company she gets placed in will be right for her. She is also working towards graduating with a minor in Japanese, a language and culture she loves, so that’s another thing I am super proud of about her. BB has not had the career successes he used to have and I suspect he has finally realised this. He seems to have taken a hard look and I hope that in 2022, he will finally pull up his pants and work towards realising his dreams. He will go for his industrial attachment in the last few months of 2022, so that is something to look forward to. And then in 2023, he will enlist to spend the next two years serving his country as a National Serviceman.
GG had some serious medical issues this year which came out of nowhere. But I am glad it hit us when it did, otherwise, we would not have known about it and it would have created some serious issues for her as she grew older. She is currently under treatment for hypothyroidism. We went to see a doctor for something else and a blood test was ordered as part of the routine testing. And it was so serious that we got a call from that hospital just a few hours after we were back home to come back to see a doctor. And after we went back to the hospital, we were sent to the Accident & Emergency of a bigger hospital because this hospital did not have the resources to check her further and decide the most appropriate treatment. So off we went and GG was warded overnight so they could do a more comprehensive blood test. And now she will be on medication for probably the rest of her life. So far her numbers have improved, but have not reached normal levels, so we are seeing the endocrinologist frequently who is monitoring her closely. I suppose once the levels reach normal levels, we will see the doctor less frequently. She has been quite good with taking her medication, even waking up super early to take the medicine before going back to bed so she can have breakfast at a normal time.
Speaking of health, my diabetes has been pretty stable this year with no great spikes. I would like the numbers to reduce a bit more and this is something I will be working towards next year. I attribute this to the walking I have been doing all year. I have mentioned every month this year about my plan to walk the distance from my home in Singapore to my home in Mumbai. Well, that plan has changed slightly and the distance has increased. After lockdowns and the reality of living alone hit them, my parents will finally be moving out of Mumbai to a retirement community near Bengaluru early next year. I am hoping that I can make one last trip to bid my dear city goodbye, so watch this space to see if I make it. Given how the various COVID variants are wrecking holiday plans, I don’t want to say anything at this point, so I don’t jinx it, but I am trying my best to go there, say goodbye and help move my parents to their new home. We will be renting at first and once they are settled there, if they find a suitable place, they will most likely purchase it. This move became necessary because they found it hard to live alone, especially during the pandemic. Where they will be moving, my mum’s sister is currently living and another cousin also has a home there and spends at least a week a month there. Her other sister and mum also live in the same city and so they will have family around. And the most important thing, according to my sister and me is that they will have access to medical attention 24/7, so we, who don’t live in the same country can breathe easy.
Now to my steps for this year. So as I mentioned the previous plan was to walk from my home in Singapore to my home in Mumbai, which is a distance of about 6700 km. Now the plan has changed a bit. After reaching Mumbai, I will continue and walk until I reach my parent’s new home near Bengaluru, which adds another 1000 km to this journey, making my journey now about 7800 km. I will do this journey in two years because I can’t walk this distance in one year (though Google Maps tells me that it will take 1500 hours of walking or about 150 days or five months of walking 10 hours daily to achieve it). My first leg in 2021 has brought me in spitting distance of the Indian border. I am less than 200 km from the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge at Moreh, Manipur which is the land border between India and Myanmar. I will spend the next year walking across India and reaching Mumbai first, before moving on to reach Bengaluru by the end of 2022. This year I have walked more than five million steps, having walked more than 3,200 kilometres. This year, I had step goals for each month starting from 10,000 steps a day going to 15,000 steps a day for each month, increasing the goal incrementally each month. And out of 365 days, I didn’t hit my daily targets only 25 days which makes me have walked my target steps 93% of this year. This is something I am super proud of as I didn’t think I had it in me to walk consistently for the full year. My goal for 2022 is to not miss a single daily goal.
I hit my reading goals for this year by October and have exceeded them as of the end of the month. My initial goal was to read 75 books this year, but I managed to read 90 books, exceeding my goal by 20%. My goal for next year will probably remain the same, but I will try to read 100 books in 2022. I also want to read more non-fiction in 2022 because I tend to gravitate towards fiction more and I want to get out of this comfort zone.
So this was what we did and achieved in 2021. I am still meditating and have been consistently meditating since April 2021. Meditation has become such a part of my life, I feel something is off if I am not able to meditate in the morning.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful 2022, one filled with love, laughter and successes. I am also wishing for a COVID-free world in 2022, one where borders are not closed and travel, friendship and gatherings go back to pre-COVID levels. Hopefully, a cure is found sooner than later and the virus becomes endemic so we can all go back to our lives.
Merry Christmas everyone! Though I am a day late, the sentiment is the same. May the true spirit of Christmas shine in your heart and light your path.
This week was the same as last week because the children are still on holiday and so nothing really to talk about. They are going out with friends, especially catching up with those who they haven’t seen in a while and those whom they will not see for a while during this holiday.
On the work front, because almost everyone is in the holiday mood, things are pretty quiet and this means I get more time to write, though I am also in a holiday mood and there are days when I have to force myself to both write and walk.
Singapore is still reporting COVID-19 cases, especially the Omicron variant, most of which seem to come from imported cases which mean travellers entering Singapore. But the Omicron variant is still a cause of concern. Today this variant accounts for 73% of US infections, up from just about 3% last week according to the US CDC. Experts say that a double dose of the vaccine coupled with the booster jab is the key along with safe distancing, masking and having good hygiene habits to combat the variant. Israel is even starting a second booster jab for seniors above 60 as a deterrent against the Omicron variant. According to experts, this variant will become the dominant variant in 2022 as it is a much more transmissible variant. And unless everyone in the world has been double vaccinated and has had the booster jab, more variants are expected until the virus becomes endemic. So it’s quite likely our new normal will continue to be masking outdoors, having regular booster jabs and maintaining hygiene practices, especially in high-risk settings like hospitals, during travel or if new variants emerge where vaccine protection is significantly reduced.
Today’s positivity quote is courtesy of American author, Joyce Meyer who tells us one cannot have a positive life with a negative mindset. So if one has a negative mindset, one keeps thinking negative thoughts and life as being difficult, then life will not be as pleasant as one wishes. Our happiness is within us with the biggest factor of our happiness ourselves. So when one is happy internally and has positive thoughts, it reflects in the way we think, believe and act and this, in turn, reflects in our lives which automatically becomes more enriched.
That’s all from us this week. Take care, stay safe and have a wonderful last week of 2021!
We’re just a couple of weeks to the new year, but Omicron is what is dominating headlines. Omicron across the world today. A new study now says that Omicron is more likely to reinfect than Delta with the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant more than five times higher and so far, it has shown no sign of being milder than the Delta variant. Depending on the estimates used for vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection from the Delta variant, this translates into vaccine effectiveness of between 0 per cent and 20 per cent after two doses, and between 55 per cent and 80 per cent after a booster dose. According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, Omicron has been detected in 77 countries and more countries probably already have it, but it has not yet been detected. Because the variant is spreading so fast, the sheer number of cases could overwhelm health systems. As of yesterday, Singapore has reported 24 confirmed cases, of which only three are locals and 21 are imported cases.
The children are done with their exams and are on their Christmas holidays. They are quite busy catching up with friends, especially BB whose best friend will be enlisting in early January. They have tons of activities planned for the next two weeks, which is good for their social life.
Today’s quote is an exercise in daily affirmation which comes to us courtesy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. All it tells us to do is tell ourselves every day that every day is the best day of our lives. Simple right? But it is hard to do, as I can attest to, but we need to persevere and we will eventually get there.
So in the light of the recent COVID developments, please stay safe, and make sure you are masked and please get vaccinated and if you are eligible for the booster shot, go ahead and get it. It will protect you to a large extent from the virus.