Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the 2020 Malaysia Annual Selection of Chinese Characters
马来西亚2020年度汉字 has been in Malaysia for a decade now and it’s purpose is to summarise the entire year’s happenings in Malaysia with one Chinese character. At the end of the video, I am going to cast my vote to choose the one Chinese character that I feel worthy of this honour.
Go and vote now: https://hanzi.com.my/vote/
Before that, I am going to tell you about how this event works, my opinions about the short-listed Chinese characters, my verdict about them and my final decision.
How does this event work? The first stage is the selection round, everyone on the internet can suggest at most 3 Chinese characters to the organising body via their website, then organisers will filter out the top-10 suggested Chinese characters to be voted via polls through their website which is happening right now as I am recording this. The voting session is from Oct 25 to Nov 15. The most voted Chinese character would then be declared as the word of the year 2020 in Malaysia. This event is opened for everyone, so after watching this video, hearing out my opinions, you can go and vote also, the links are in the description below.
Now, let’s talk about the 10 short-listed Chinese characters. To make my final decision clearer, I will give some marks to each of the words based on some criteria: the accuracy of the word describing Malaysia in 2020, how widely can the word be used to describe 2020, and my biased ‘feelings’ about each of the word.
After setting these down, I will go along with the sequence provided on their website.
Word #1: 憂(you1)
Meaning: Worry or sadness.
You see, one Chinese character can have multiple meanings because we tend to associate one character with another which in turn creates another meaning for one character. In general this word, 憂, is a negative word which is used to describe worry and sadness. Ok, let’s look back to the year 2020. Ya, it’s quite terrifying, a lot has happened, the pandemic happened, the lockdown also, and the economy is not so good too. Plus, there are a lot of political hoo-hahs in Malaysia, adding salt to the wound. All these cause worry and sadness on so many levels because we are forced to face changes in a short amount of time and there are too many uncertainties hitting us at the same time.
Word #2: 新(xin1)
Meaning: New, fresh or vague short-form of the virus.
When we talk about something new, something fresh, we often relate it with positive situations, but not negative ones, at least this is how I feel about. You can say that the pandemic is something new for us, the forced changes are something fresh for us and therefore creating a lot of new challenges for us. From that point of view, yes, 新can be used like this. But for me, I still think that something new should be something good. If you do not agree with me on any of these words, feel free to leave your comment down below.
Word #3: 病(bing4)
Meaning: Being sick or disease
I feel like this word describes 2020 the best in Malaysia. First we have the virus, making a lot of Malaysians sick. Then, we have the sick politicians playing politics which makes us sick of them. Plus, making us stay home for such a long period of time also makes us sick too. Personally, I think Malaysia is sick, so as the Malaysians in one way or the other.
Word #4 慘 (can3）
Meaning: miserable or tragic
2020 is one of the most tragic years after the Wars in the 20th Century. It is like we are fighting an invisible war against an invisible enemy. This not only costs lives but also our well-being, turning bad into something worse for most of us. Some of us might have adapted and benefitted from this tragedy / pandemic, but most of us did not.
Word #5 慌 (huang1)
Meaning: Panic or confused
Taking my points from the first word, I think the uncertainties and sudden changes did make me and most of us panic. Like during the announcement of the first MCO, I literally panicked, and knew the severity of this virus. But after that, I sort of got used to it and adapted to the new norm. The panic just happened once or twice, but the worry stays on.
Word #6 罩 (zhao4)
Meaning: Cover or affect or Face Mask.
As we know, face masks are a compulsory thing for us to wear when we go outside and we literally have the expression of “Oh, fk. My mask.” If we leave without wearing a mask. However, some might object with wearing a mask because of discomfort or this and that reasons. Personally I think mask is not just a symbol for our war with a virus but also with different human behaviour and reactions.
Word #7 疫 (yi4)
Meaning: epidemic or pandemic
This is one of the most heard words on Malaysian tele and radio. Although it has many similarities with the previous word bing4 but this is to describe a more serious threat rather than just being sick. It is used to describe the situation that is happening now, this pandemic.
Word #8 封 (feng1)
Meaning: Sealed up or lockdown
Malaysia has been in lockdown since March, like we have been through many phases of lockdown: MCO, CMCO, EMCO, RMCO, but as we almost break the chain of this virus, we had an election that sent us back to square one. In addition to that, this seals up a lot of opportunities and plans that we had for 2020.
Word #9 困 (kun4)
Meaning: Tired or trapped
This word is quite similar to the previous one, feng1, but it has additional elements in it. Like feeling trapped during the lockdown and also feeling tired of all the shit that is happening, regardless of what the shit is. This word is can be more related to the feelings rather than the conditions around us.
Word #10 亂 (luan4)
Meaning: Messy or confused
As I have described from the beginning, Malaysia is in a fucking mess. Not just caused by the pandemic, but also the sickening politics. Sometimes, I also feel my heart is in a mess, probably due to the lockdown, studies and whatnot. But, I think this word is too general in a sense that it is just a state that can happen in any year.
My verdict is this.
A lot of the words have the potential to become the word of the year. But more than half of them are way too general, in a sense that the word can be put in any year with bad things happening and is still able to describe the year with a pass-able standard.
We are here to look for a word that best describes 2020, something more specific. So, I just look at the top 3 words based on their marks.
After making my decisions, I think that bing4 is the most suitable word for 2020.
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