[Lingtyp] corona, crown and languages

Claude Hagège claude-hagege at wanadoo.fr
Tue May 5 16:51:25 UTC 2020

Dear Natalia, Danqing, Randy , Jeremy  and all,


Not only  are  xīnguān  fèiyán (新冠肺炎), i.e. ? corona  pneumonia ?
and  xīnguān  bìngdú (新冠 病毒), i.e. ? corona virus ?,  clearly
distinguished in mainland China, as stressed by Danqing, but in addition, as
far as I can  see  in  Chinese newspapers, xīnguān  (新冠) alone, to refer
to the illness,  is  less often used than    xīnguān  fèiyán (新冠肺炎),
and even   xīnguān  fèiyán yìqíng (新冠肺炎疫情) ? corona pneumonia
pandemic ?, in which yìqíng  疫情 ? pandemic ?  is added . Thus, the
illness is more properly referred to, in Chinese newspapers,  as what it
actually is, i.e. a pneumonia (fèiyán :  肺炎, literally ? lungs
inflammation ?).

Furthermore the ? crown ?  metaphor which describes the virus shape is not
new in Chinese : just as English says ? coronary artery / arteries ?,
describing the shape of this artery and its branches, which supply blood to
the heart muscle and look like a crown, in the same way, Chinese refers to
the coronary artery by the compound word  guānzhuàng dòngmài (冠状动脉),
which means, literally, ? crown-shaped artery ?.

It should be stressed, also, that the 冠  which means ? crown ?  is  guān
(first tone), and thus  does not have the same tone as the冠 which means ?
championship ?, i.e. guàn (fourth tone).


The frequent use of a longer expression might contradict Zipf’s correlation
between frequency and length. Moreover, I would suggest to Natalia that the
impact of the corona virus pandemic on language, or, rather, on languages,
is illustrated by the proliferation of jokes and puns which appear in this
web discussion. More generally, when a threat or a danger shows up, speakers
use their languages, and humorous manipulations thereof,  as means of



To  NATALIA : по-итальянски или  по-испански,  оч
ень  легко  перевестн русскую  шутку  каса
ющуюся    князя  шарла,  потому что  в этих я
зыках,  корона _  тоже…  corona !



With best wishes


海然热 (=Claude Hagège)



L'absence de virus dans ce courrier électronique a été vérifiée par le logiciel antivirus Avast.
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