The pandemic is inspiring more than 1,200 new German words: NPR


A woman walks past a closed flower shop in Berlin on Thursday. A research group noticed more than 1,200 new German words inspired by the epidemic.

Tobias Schwartz / AFP via Getty Images

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Tobias Schwartz / AFP via Getty Images

A woman walks past a closed flower shop in Berlin on Thursday. A research group noticed more than 1,200 new German words inspired by the epidemic.

Tobias Schwartz / AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic has changed how people speak and write. In the English language, dictionaries note a few dozen new entries and reviews: Social distancingAnd the Front lineAnd the Super Distributed, “Zoom in” as a verb.

But in Germany, the lexicographers of the Leibniz Institute of the German Language collected the information Over 1200 new words Related to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Germans’ tendency to compound words was a large part of the spread.

For example, CoronamotionJet It is an area where coronavirus mutations are common. a Stealth happened (Ghost event) is an event that no one attends, usually an athlete. Live music is permitted, provided the audience stays in their cars at the hour Car party.

New nouns in German are often formed by combining two or three nouns, says Anatole Stefanovic, professor of linguistics at the Free University of Berlin.

“That’s one explanation for why there are so many new words,” Scott Simon told Weekend version. “It’s very easy to make these words. Many of these words disappear again after using them once. But some of them are stuck.”

There are many variations of a “face mask”.

Mouthguard fashion Includes “Box For the mouth Protection For protection and Situation As a term for fashion. So a literal translation would be in fashion for mouth protection, “says Stefanovic.

But the Germans also indicated A. Condoms for the face – The “condom” that he notes creates a “new image” in your head. Temporary mouth protection It will act as an “improvised nose mouth protection.”

mask, Or muzzle, is not on the new word list. But people opposed to the mask’s requirements are using the word muzzle in a new way: “to portray adherence to reasonable public health measures as an act of submission under an authoritarian government,” says Stefanovic. “So that was a stroke of genius from their point of view.”

It is likely that only a small portion of the new epidemiological words will be included in the dictionary. He believes that more nuanced people have more lasting potential.

Connection restrictionsAnd connectivity restrictions and Exit from restriction, Exit restrictions, these are interesting, “he says.

“One of the things that the epidemic has really shown us is that people were trying to differentiate linguistically, trying not to use a word that was too strong for a scale but also not trying to make it sound very innocuous. And so I think these words, they’re interesting, because they show the function of language and the ability of language to Create smaller differences in meaning to try to correct things perfectly. “

There is also a deeper emotional side to all of this new language, according to a researcher at the Leibniz Institute.

When new things happen in the world [we] Look for the name “Christine Morse.” He told the Guardian. “Things that have no name can make people feel fearful and insecure. However, if we can talk about and name things, we can communicate with each other. Especially in times of crisis, that’s important.”

Peter Breslow and Kitty Eisele produced and edited the audio version of this story.

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