SpanishDict's 2017 Words of the Year
At SpanishDict.com, we find ourselves in a unique position to understand people’s curiosities. As the world’s largest online Spanish-English reference tool, we have the special opportunity to investigate the ways in which the Spanish- and English-speaking worlds converse with one another. You may have seen other “word of the year” lists, which celebrate and commemorate the words that encapsulate what it means to have lived through 2017. We have done the same, but with our own bilingual twist.
Because most of our traffic comes from English and Spanish students, common searches that land people on SpanishDict.com include “ser conjugation” and “traductor inglés español”. Every once in awhile, though, these searches don’t seem to come from students or traditional learners. Our Google search data shine light on the viral and trendy words and phrases that connected English and Spanish speakers in 2017.
2017 will always be known as the year of "Despacito" for us at SpanishDict.com. In April, Justin Bieber teamed up with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee for a bilingual remix of "Despacito." People were anything but despacito in searching for the meaning of the song. Over 2 million Google searches for “despacito meaning” have landed users onto our website this year. The music video of the original Spanish-only version, set in Puerto Rico, now boasts 4.5 billion views -- the most of any YouTube video ever.
While "Despacito" was the clear winner for Record of the Year at the 2017 Latin Grammys, Shakira and Maluma’s collaboration on "Chantaje" would not go down without a fight. Though the song was released in October 2016 and topped charts around the world, we noticed a resurgence in its popularity in 2017. When "Despacito" went viral in the English-speaking world, it invigorated a broader interest in Spanish music. Algorithms on YouTube and Spotify were likely to recommend "Chantaje" in the aftermath of "Despacito’s" release. And with good reason -- with 2 billion of its own views on YouTube, it’s clear why the Colombian hit takes the silver medal on our list.
It is difficult to conjure up images of 2017 without thinking of Donald Trump. The 45th president of the United States assumed office in January 2017 and tweeted his way through the year. His distinctive style of tweeting is often punctuated by “Sad!” and that did not go unnoticed in the Spanish speaking world. Searches for “sad,” “que es sad,” and “que significa sad” ranked high in driving traffic to our translator this year.
Tragedy struck when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook Mexico City and the surrounding area in September. Earthquakes also wreaked havoc in the states of Guerrero, Morelos, Puebla, Mexico State, and Oaxaca. With hundreds of casualties and thousands of injuries, celebrities and citizens alike took to social media to express their thoughts and prayers. Searches for “pray for mexico” peaked in the days following the earthquake. While these searches only lasted for a few days, the frequency of these queries demonstrates the magnitude of support for Mexico’s recovery.
The final candidate for word of the year takes us across geographical and linguistic barriers to a region where Catalan, rather than Spanish, is predominantly spoken. The citizens of Catalonia in northeastern Spain controversially voted in favor of independence from the Spanish government in October. As the referendum was denied by Spain’s government, many pro-secession protesters and organizers were arrested. Cries of “Llibertat presos polítics” or “Freedom for political prisoners” rang throughout Catalonia and the rest of the world among supporters of the independence referendum. Search data from our website show clear spikes in queries for “freedom” at key moments during one of 2017’s largest political stories.