Pandemic Conjures up Extra Than 1,200 New German Phrases


A girl walks previous a closed flower store in Berlin on Thursday. A analysis group famous greater than 1,200 new phrases in German impressed by the pandemic.

Tobias Schwarz/AFP by way of Getty Photographs


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Tobias Schwarz/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

A girl walks previous a closed flower store in Berlin on Thursday. A analysis group famous greater than 1,200 new phrases in German impressed by the pandemic.

Tobias Schwarz/AFP by way of Getty Photographs

The pandemic has modified how folks speak and write. In English, dictionaries have famous a couple of dozen new entries and revisions: social distancing, frontliner, super-spreader, “Zoom” as a verb.

However in Germany, lexicographers on the Leibniz Institute for the German Language have compiled more than 1,200 new words associated to the coronavirus pandemic.

German’s propensity for compounding phrases has been a giant a part of the proliferation.

For instance, Coronamutationsgebiet is an space the place coronavirus mutations are widespread. A Geisterveranstaltung (ghost occasion) is an occasion with no folks in attendance, normally sports activities. Dwell music is allowed, supplied the viewers stays of their vehicles, at an Autokonzert.

New nouns are sometimes shaped in German by combining two or three nouns, says Anatol Stefanowitsch, a professor of linguistics on the Freie Universität Berlin.

“That is one of many explanations for why we discover so many new phrases,” he tells Scott Simon on Weekend Version. “It is simply really easy to coin them. Many of those phrases disappear once more after they have been used as soon as. However a few of them have caught round.”

There are a number of variations on “face masks.”

Mundschutzmode contains “Mund for mouth, Schutz for cover and Mode as a time period for style. So a literal translation could be mouth safety style,” Stefanowitsch says.

However Germans have additionally referred to a Gesichtskondom — a “face condom,” which he notes creates a “novel picture” in your head. Behelfsmundnasenschutz could be an “improvised mouth nostril safety.”

Maulkorb, or muzzle, isn’t on the record of latest phrases. However folks against masks necessities are utilizing the phrase muzzle in a brand new means: “to painting adherence to wise public well being measures as an act of submission beneath an authoritarian authorities,” Stefanowitsch says. “In order that’s been a stroke of genius from their perspective.”

Solely a small fraction of latest pandemic phrases will probably make it into the dictionary. He thinks those which might be most exact have extra lasting potential.

“Kontaktbeschränkungen, contact restrictions, and Ausgehbeschränkung, going out restrictions, these are fascinating,” he says.

“One of many issues that the pandemic has actually proven us is that individuals have been attempting to distinguish linguistically, attempting to not use too robust a phrase for a measure but additionally not attempting to make it sound too innocent. And so I feel these phrases, they’re fascinating, as a result of they present the operate of language and the potential of language to create ever smaller distinctions in which means to attempt to get issues precisely proper.”

There’s additionally a deeper emotional side of all this new language, based on one of many researchers on the Leibniz Institute.

“When new issues occur on the earth [we] search for a reputation,” Christine Möhrs told The Guardian. “Issues that wouldn’t have a reputation could cause folks to really feel concern and insecurity. Nevertheless, if we will discuss issues and title them, then we will talk with one another. Particularly in occasions of disaster, that is essential.”

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

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