[Lingtyp] coronavirus and Zipf

Randy J. LaPolla randy.lapolla at gmail.com
Sat May 2 23:43:37 EDT 2020


Hi All,
Interesting that people aren’t distinguishing between the coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) and the illness caused by the virus (COVID-19). For those of us who went through the SARS outbreak of 2003 (I was in Hong Kong, the epicentre, at the time), this is just SARS-2. And I have heard other people here in Singapore also call it just “SARS” without the 2. The illness is usually called COVID-19, following the media (we get updates very several times a day from the government, and they are consistent in this usage).

All the best,
Randy
-----
Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)
Professor of Linguistics, with courtesy appointment in Chinese, School of Humanities 
Nanyang Technological University
HSS-03-45, 48 Nanyang Avenue| Singapore 639818
http://randylapolla.net/ <http://randylapolla.net/>
Most recent books:
The Sino-Tibetan Languages, 2nd Edition (2017)
https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324 <https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324>
Sino-Tibetan Linguistics (2018)
https://www.routledge.com/Sino-Tibetan-Linguistics/LaPolla/p/book/9780415577397 <https://www.routledge.com/Sino-Tibetan-Linguistics/LaPolla/p/book/9780415577397>
> On 3 May 2020, at 9:01 AM, Maia Ponsonnet <maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au> wrote:
> 
> Hello, 
> 
> I haven't done any counts, but I feel that my interlocutors in Australia (English) and in France (French) very predominantly talk about "COVID" (without the 19, even in writing). 
> My impression is that "coronavirus" occurs in the media and possibly particularly in more medical articles; and only very rarely "corona". 
> 
> Interestingly, the "corona" truncation makes me feel very uncomfortable, it makes me cringe. I'm not sure why. Perhaps truncation comes with a sense of positive familiarity that my ear finds inappropriate in this situation? Perhaps my romance-native self doesn't like the association with a crown? Probably a bit of both. I prefer the dry, technical, relatively ugly "COVID". 
> 
> Kind regards, Maïa 
> 
> Dr Maïa Ponsonnet
> Senior Lecturer and Chair, Discipline of Linguistics
> Social Sciences Building, Room 2.36
> Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education
> The University of Western Australia
> 35 Stirling Hwy, Perth, WA (6009), Australia
> P.  +61 (0) 8 6488 2870 - M.  +61 (0) 468 571 030
> 
> 
> From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org <mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>> on behalf of Claire Bowern <clairebowern at gmail.com <mailto:clairebowern at gmail.com>>
> Sent: Sunday, 3 May 2020 6:22 AM
> To: Ernei Ribeiro <ernei8299 at gmail.com <mailto:ernei8299 at gmail.com>>
> Cc: LINGTYP LINGTYP <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>>
> Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] R: coronavirus and Zipf
>  
> Around New Haven (Connecticut) I'm mostly hearing COVID, COVID-19, or sometimes CV (and of course the 'rona from Australian facebook). These generalizations about "English" need more qualification. There are also a lot of circumlocutions (not exactly a protective euphemism but somewhat reminiscent).
> Claire
> 
> On Sat, May 2, 2020 at 8:48 AM Ernei Ribeiro <ernei8299 at gmail.com <mailto:ernei8299 at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Dear Natalia,
> 
> In Brazilian Portuguese, the humorous form coronga vírus (or sometimes onlycoronga) is being used. Coronga is a species of fish, but I
> think that the word is unrelated to this. This form is used just because it sounds funny.
> 
> Best,
> Ernei
> 
> On Sat, May 2, 2020 at 8:27 PM Paolo Ramat <paoram at unipv.it <mailto:paoram at unipv.it>> wrote:
> Dear All,
> the short form for coronavirus is Covid-19. As in Russian, Ital. corona means ‘crown’; therefore it is not used as clipping for the virus name;  and there have been jokes like the Russian on Prince Charles.
>  
> Best wishes and take care, without Clorox injections as it has been suggested…
>  
> P.Rt.
>  
> Da: Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org <mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org>] Per conto di Natalia Levshina
> Inviato: sabato 2 maggio 2020 12:47
> A: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> Oggetto: [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 (fromcoronavirus) is becoming increasingly popular in English: https://public.oed.com/blog/corpus-analysis-of-the-language-of-covid-19/ <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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