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The linguistic picture of the world through the prism of the words-symbols of 2020 (based on the material of the English and Russian languages)

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2021. Vol. 10. No. 6. Pp. 414-423.
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Zueva V.
Odintsovo Branch of MGIMO University
3 Novo-Sportivnaya Street, 143007 Odintsovo, Russia
Koloskova O.
Odintsovo Branch of MGIMO University
3 Novo-Sportivnaya Street, 143007 Odintsovo, Russia


This authors of the article consider the phenomenon of keywords characterizing the year 2020 in the Russian and English languages in a comparative-descriptive perspective. The purpose of the study is to identify the most relevant trends in the development of lexical subsystems of the English and Russian languages in 2020 and to describe and compare the changes, which were reflected in the appearance of corresponding words-symbols or buzzwords. The authors define vogue words, identify the most relevant for this period types of discourses, which include pandemic, political, Internet, and climate discourses, and also provide comparative and lexical-semantic analyses of words-symbols recorded by foreign and Russian experts. The authors compare the keywords of the year named by foreign and Russian experts and point out some global trends and cross-cultural similarities related to the pandemic and Internet discourses. Despite the existence of global political problems discussed by all communities, the words of the year in the political discourse have distinctive national characteristics. The symbols of the year chosen by foreign experts represent words related to the US presidential elections and protests against racial discrimination, while Russian experts named keywords linked with changes in the constitution. It is also noteworthy that the list of words-symbols of 2020 included contaminated occasionalisms that have an evaluative ironic, critical, and even sarcastic meaning. The authors believe that fixing keywords that symbolize a certain period in history presents interest for various kinds of studies, both from descriptive and diachronic points of view.


  • • buzzwords
  • • word of the year
  • • words-symbols of 2020
  • • political discourse
  • • pandemic discourse
  • • climate discourse
  • • Internet discourse


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