How has the pandemic changed our language?
It has created more opportunities for linguistic play, which are the kind of fun expressions that no one expects to hang around very long. People might talk about a quarantini for a cocktail, or use the vaguely romantic-sounding abbreviation ’rona. It’s going to be interesting to see which, if any, terms are going to leave a lasting imprint on our language.
Which of these new terms is likely to stick around?
Specialized terms from academic fields leap to the front of the public tongue when they’re timely and useful. Phrases like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” are terms that epidemiologists and public health experts have used for years but have just now entered common language. But terms that tend to stick around after a large-scale incident are the new ones that originate in the moment rather than academic terms that were around beforehand.
How might our future use of language be affected?
I’m interested to see whether or not our behavior is changed so much that it gets reflected in the language. Right now, we might say “I’m working remote” or “I’m going to meet someone for a virtual drink.” In the future, it might not be immediately clear when we say “I’m going to work” or “I’m going to school” if we’re talking about getting into a car or going on a laptop.
Vocabulary From a Pandemic Area
Covidiot Zoom fatigue quaranteam bubble doomscrolling
quarantini germ pod the Before Times ’rona maskne
super-spreader Blursday contact tracing social distancing flatten the curve essential workers pod PPE unprecedented second wave
Zumped Zoombie maskhole WFH virtual background
coronials the new normal Covidivorce isolate lockdown asymptomatic