[Lingtyp] coronavirus and Zipf

Zygmunt Frajzyngier zygmunt.frajzyngier at colorado.edu
Sat May 2 17:10:50 EDT 2020


Natalia, Friends,
Not an instance of the application of Zipf’s law, but still nice.
I read that some young people in Colorado refer to the Corona virus as ‘boomer remover’. For those unfamiliar with the American expression ‘boomer’ look it up.
All best,
Zygmunt

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Natalia Levshina <natalevs at gmail.com>
Date: Saturday, May 2, 2020 at 4:47 AM
To: "lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org" <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: [Lingtyp] coronavirus and Zipf

Dear colleagues,

I'm writing an informal blog post about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on language, with a focus on Zipf's correlation between frequency and word/expression length. For example, the clipping corona (from coronavirus) is becoming increasingly popular in English: https://public.oed.com/blog/corpus-analysis-of-the-language-of-covid-19/
I also have some data from Dutch, German, Russian and Polish. I'm wondering how other languages behave in that respect. In particular,

1) Is there a shorter form for coronavirus, like corona? Can it only refer to the virus, or also to the pandemic and the disease?
2) If there is such a form, is it used widely or occasionally (e.g. humorously/creatively/in quotes)? For example, in Russian koronavirus is the preferred form because korona means 'a crown'. There's an untranslatable Russian joke, Prince Charles finally got a crown (korona), but it was the wrong one.
3) Is there a popular everyday (i.e. non-astronomic) meaning of the word that corresponds to corona in that language (e.g. a crown, like in Russian)?


4) Also, are there any other abbreviations or substitutions (e.g. the use of a shorter formally unrelated word, like car instead of automobile) related to the pandemic you have observed?

I promise to post a summary if I get enough interesting data.

Many thanks and stay corona(virus)-free!

Natalia Levshina

--
Natalia Levshina
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Wundtlaan 1, 6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


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