[Lingtyp] R: coronavirus and Zipf

Maia Ponsonnet maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au
Sun May 3 01:01:23 UTC 2020


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> on behalf of Claire Bowern <clairebowern at gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, 3 May 2020 6:22 AM
To: Ernei Ribeiro <ernei8299 at gmail.com>
Cc: LINGTYP LINGTYP <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).

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 only coronga) 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.


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…


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 (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

[Avast logo] <https://www.avast.com/antivirus>

Questa e-mail è stata controllata per individuare virus con Avast antivirus.

Lingtyp mailing list
Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Lingtyp mailing list
Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20200503/c1c79f78/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list