[Lingtyp] coronavirus and Zipf

Peter Bakker linpb at cc.au.dk
Sat May 2 11:17:48 UTC 2020

In Australian English, corona is being clipped to 'rona. That's what Aussies do...

Tony Thorne (London) has an almost encyclopaedic overview of corona terminology on his website:

tony thorne | language and innovation<https://language-and-innovation.com/>
The second part of my Lockdown Lexicon, Covidictionary, Glossary of Coronacoinages. In trying to make sense of our new circumstances, under lockdown, in social isolation or distancing, we must come to terms with an array of new language, some of it unfamiliar and difficult to process, some pre-existing but deployed in new ways.Many of us, though, are empowering ourselves by inventing and ...

mostly from English.

There is also a less serious Covidictionary here:


COVIDictionary. Your go-to dictionary in times of Coronavirus and COVID-19 – Lingoblog<http://www.lingoblog.dk/en/covidictionary-your-go-to-dictionary-in-times-of-coronavirus-and-covid-19/>
Lingoblog.dk goes viral! Ideas worth spreading! Please send this link: all your isolated friends, relatives and colleagues who can be uplifted by some COVID-19 humor. COVIDictionary 20: your go-to …

Peter Bakker

Fra: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> på vegne af Natalia Levshina <natalevs at gmail.com>
Sendt: 2. maj 2020 12:47
Til: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Emne: [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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