“Vacunódromo”, word of the year 2021

Since 2012, the magazine semicolon, the Spanish translators’ bulletin, has been holding a very special contest: “The word of the year”. In the latest issue of this magazine, which has just been published, the winning word of 2021 is announced, which is none other than “vaccinadrome”, a term related again to the pandemic, since last year the winning word was “zoombirthday”, Within the same subject area.

And it is that the candidates for this contest, apart from being words, in the sense of “rare or badly said word” (first meaning of the DLE), must be new (in the form or in the meaning) and be up-to-date informative. But, before making a review of some of the words proposed this year, it seems advisable to deal with “vaccinadrome”.


In the absence of an “official” definition, since this term, for the moment, does not appear in the latest academic dictionary (ACCORDING TO, 2014), the Fundéu (Urgent Spanish Foundation), promoted by the EFE Agency and the RAE, whose objective is the proper use of Spanish in the media, points out that this term refers to “large facilities enabled to vaccinate” or “mass vaccination points”.

Also, in one of his usual recommendations, he explains that it is a valid term in Spanish. Thus, “vacunódromo” has been formed from the noun “vaccine” and the Greek base -dromo (“Speedway”). This compositional element, however, has undergone an evolution from its initial meaning, which refers to a race or a place where a race is held, such as “hipódromo” (“place for horse racing”) or “velodrome” ( “Place intended for bicycle races”), up to the idea of ​​”great facility”.

It happens that, more than a century ago, an “airfield” was created, which is obviously not a place for airplane races, but a “place for the take-off and landing of airplanes.” This new notion of “large space (an airfield, of course, it is) destined for specific purposes” is also present in other terms, such as “rockodromo” (“place where performances are held musicals, usually in the open air ”) or the aforementioned“ vacunadrome ”.

Therefore, given that “vacunódromo” conforms to the morphological guidelines of Spanish and its meaning is transparent, the Fundéu, as has already been said, considers it correct.

In other countries of America, such as Argentina, the expression “vaccinatory” is preferred, which appears included in the Dictionary of Americanisms, which can be accessed from the RAE website, where it is indicated, indeed, that this term refers to the “place where vaccines are administered”.

Now, “vaccination” is not exactly the same as “vaccination”, since “vaccination” can also be used with the meaning of “room reserved to wait to be vaccinated.”

Another word related to the above, also valid, is “vacuguagua”, an acronym for “vaccination” and “guagua” (“bus” for canaries), although it specifically refers to vehicles that function as an itinerant vaccination point. Obviously, this word is only used in the Canary Islands.

Other words

Together with this year’s winning word, they were sent to the editorial staff of the magazine semicolon many more. Unsurprisingly, most of them have to do with these three current issues: the pandemic, climate change and the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

Thus, in addition to the usual lightning bolts, thunder and lightning, this year, unfortunately, we have to talk about “fajanas”, “pyroclasts” and “coladas”, although more creative than these is the word colava, also submitted to competition.

Another current area, as has been advanced, is climate change and its consequences. Here we have garbage Y veroño, among others and, in relation to the pandemic, pandemial Y mechagenemia.

Now, with the permission of the volcano and the pandemic, words belonging to other areas, such as politics, have also been proposed. These are portacoz Y demotanasia (the latter in reference to emptied Spain).

All of them are a good reflection of the vitality of our language, which is measured by its ability to adapt to changes in society and to the new communication needs of speakers.

Their future is almost as uncertain as ours, although, as Haruki Murakami says (First person of singular, 2021), “the words remain by our side if we are lucky”. He, with a certain melancholy, writes the following:

“With the arrival of dawn, the wind dies down and the surviving words appear stealthily, in a timid and reluctant attitude, with a tendency to polysemy, sufficiently prepared, however, to act as witnesses to the world with their impartiality and honesty.”

Silvia Hurtado González, Professor of the Department of Spanish Language of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Valladolid

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.


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