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In Germany, more than 1,200 new words have been created in age of COVID-19

In Germany, more than 1,200 new words have been created in age of COVID-19

Schadenfreude.

Zeitgeist.

Weltanschauung.

Weltschmerz.

Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän.

A singular German word overflowing with length and precision can flummox an English speaker: from its number of letters to its complex meaning.

In the age of COVID-19, more than 1,200 words in German have been created.

“I can’t think of anything, at least since the Second World War, that would have changed the vocabulary as drastically and at the same time as quickly, as the corona pandemic,” said Anatol Stefanowitsch, a professor of linguistics at the Free University of Berlin. “I can think of many other examples of a huge cultural shift that changed the German vocabulary. But they didn’t happen within a few months.”

The list of new words was compiled by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language.

“When new things happen in the world [we] look for a name,” said Dr. Christine Möhrs, who works at the institute and collects the words. “Things that do not have a name can cause people to feel fear and insecurity. However, if we can talk about things and name them, then we can communicate with each other. Especially in times of crisis, this is important.”

She noted the new words are helping reduce Coronaangst (anxiety about the virus).

“Language has a strong power,” Möhrs added. “We see again and again how important it is to formulate precisely and to be very careful about which words we choose. Words not only convey content, but can also convey emotions and feelings. And speakers should be aware of that.”

Below are more COVID-19 neologisms in German:

  • Coronamüde (COVID-19 exhaustion)
  • Impfneid (vaccination envy)
  • Coronafrisur (corona hairstyle)
  • Kuschelkontakt (cuddle contact)
  • Abstandsbier (distance beer)
  • Glühweinstandhopping (hopping between mulled-wine stands)
  • Balkonsänger (balcony singer)
  • Todesküsschen (friendly smooch on the cheek viewed as a kiss of death)
  • Alltagsmaske (everyday mask)
  • Spuckschutzschirm (mask: spit protection umbrella)
  • Schnutenpulli (mask: snout sweater)
  • Maskentrottel (mask idiot who wears a face covering leaving the nose exposed)
  • Hamsterkauf (panic buying and stockpiling food like a hamster)
  • Mindestabstandsregelung (minimum-distance regulation)
  • Anderthalbmetergesellschaft (one-and-a-half-meter society)
  • Ausgangssperre (going-out curfew)
  • Ausgangsbeschränkung (going-out restriction)
  • Coronadiktatur (COVID-19 dictatorship)
  • Impfzwang (forced vaccination)

About the author

Vicky Sequeira

With more than 6 years of experience working as a media professional, Vicky flaunts prowess in bringing the juicy tit-bits from the entertainment industry for the readers of News Brig.

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