[Lingtyp] coronavirus and Zipf

Natalia Levshina natalevs at gmail.com
Sat May 2 10:47:03 UTC 2020

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:
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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