Germans create over a thousand words to express pandemic situations

The back and forth of decisions about opening or closing a certain type of establishment or sector of the economy to stop the Covid pandemic – and the resulting confusion created in people’s minds – was not exclusive to Brazil. In Germany, the practice has earned its own term: “auf-zu-auf-zu”, or “yo-yo”.

The Germans did not like this lockdown either, which has undergone successive extensions, the “salamilockdown”. Moreover, the English word was not only adopted, but also became a Germanized verb: whoever got a lockdown was “gelockdownt” – in Portuguese it would be something like “lockdownzado”. And he won a few variables, like “flockdown”: when it snows so much you still have to stay indoors.

With the vaccination at a slow pace, from the perspective of people’s expectations – 11.3% received a dose through March 31 – and due to the controversy surrounding the application of the Oxford / AstraZeneca immunizer, there was a certain dose dose of “Impfneid”: envy of those who have already been vaccinated.

For his behavior of not wearing masks in public places, causing crowds and making it difficult to acquire vaccines, President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party) would probably be called a “virus bomber”: that person or that institution that contributes to the spread of Covid.

The German language is known to have huge, unpronounceable words, usually formed by the junction of two or more to describe something new in a specific way and express complex emotions. In the pandemic, Germans seem to have felt the need to communicate even more precisely.

The Leibniz German Language Institute (IDS) has compiled over 1,200 new words related to the Covid-19 crisis which only emerged in 2020 (the reader should wait for updates later this year). Typically, around 200 new words are compiled each year.

Much of this new language reflects practices that emerged with the pandemic: “abstandbier” (drinking beer while keeping a distance), “geisterveranstaltung” (“ghost” events, without the presence of an audience), autokonzert (musical shows that you can follow from inside the car), “coronafrisur” (that homemade haircut) or “schaufenster shopping” (buy just by looking out the window).

There are many variations around the word mask. Your neighbor who refuses to use it is the “maskenmuffel” (mask grunt) or “maskentrottel” (mask idiot). And what only covers the mouth will be called “nacknase”, a bare nose.

The artifact itself can be called “mundschutz” (mouth protection) or “mundnasenschutz” (orofacial protection). An improvised mask will be called “behelfsmundnasenschutz”, and the term “gesichtskondom”, facial condom, has also appeared.

“I can’t think of anything, at least since World War II, that has changed the vocabulary as drastically and as quickly as the pandemic,” Anatol Stefanowitsch, professor of linguistics at Freie Universität Berlin, told the Washington Post. “I can think of many examples in which a major cultural change has changed the German vocabulary. But not in a few months.”

Stefanowitsch explains that not all of these words will be dictated by a dictionary. For him, those with a more precise meaning are more likely to prosper, such as “kontaktbeschränkungen”, contact restrictions and “ausgehbeschränkungen”, movement restrictions.

“These words are interesting because they show the function of language and the potential of language to make smaller and smaller distinctions in trying to put it right.”

For Der Spiegel magazine columnist Samira El Ouassil, the new words reflect the German spirit that loves order, organization and stability. “Words like ‘check the distance’ and ‘cough hygiene’ (…) are the vocabulary of a society that should get through a pandemic much better,” he wrote. “Perhaps there is a problem: this strong administration, of which Germany is proud, is incompatible with a fluid crisis situation, which requires immediate adjustment.”

The new language also highlights important emotional aspects related to the pandemic. “Coronamüdigkeit” (fatigue of the crown), “pandemüde” (tired of the pandemic) and “coronaangst” (fear or anxiety of the crown) were some of the expressions compiled.

“When new things come into the world, we look for a name for them,” Leibniz researcher Christine Möhrs told British newspaper The Guardian. “Things that don’t have a name can scare and insecure people. But if we talk about things and give them a name, then we can communicate. Especially in times of crisis, that’s important.”

The team she is a part of compiles words from mentions in the media, on social networks and on the internet in general. “Language has power. We see time and time again how important it is to formulate precisely and be very careful with the words we choose. Words convey not only content, but emotions and feelings. speakers should be aware of this. “

His favorite word is “CoronaFußgruß”, for when two people greet each other while touching their feet – because of the sound and because it shows “the human desire for connection”.

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