From home office to nose drill test or FFP-2 mask to a walk in the woods: Anyone who asks about one typical Corona word will get many answers. It’s no wonder, because never before have so many new words made it into our daily language so quickly. It is easy to explain that these include many words taken from the English language: “They have a glossing over, concealing function because they just sound more pleasant than sober, German terms such as curfew or home work,” says linguist Oksana Havryliv.
Anyone who believes that only such anglicisms conceal is wrong. This also works very well in German, as a current example shows: the “Easter rest” announced for the coming week: “That just doesn’t sound like a hardened lockdown, it sounds more solemn – Easter rest.”
New words with previously unknown meanings
But clear meanings also shift and suddenly have a different meaning: positive becomes negative. Anyone who presents a positive result of a CoV test has to accept negative consequences. In the same way, terms from technical jargon suddenly penetrate everyday German. Everyone is now talking about antigen tests, about an incidence that should reach 50, but then make it necessary for 400 exit controls.
And one hears doctors time and again in press conferences that in a pandemic it may be necessary to use the triage system. This is a method of disaster medicine with which, in the event of a mass occurrence of sick or injured people, they can be quickly divided into different categories. In the end, it comes down to the question: who can survive and who cannot?
Humor creates distance from reality
Humor is a good means of surviving tense times, for example when teaching distance rules in the form of a baby elephant. And then, when, with the continuation of a pandemic, the minimum distance of one meter has become the minimum distance of two meters, suddenly the “lying barrel man” – alluding to the stately size of the education minister – appears in the language.
“Language in times of crisis is also characterized by creativity and humorous terms. The humorous helps us to create the distance to reality – to the unbearable reality for many ”, emphasized linguist Havryliv. The lockdown hype about banana bread and sourdough is followed by the corona bacon, when you watch alone it is already gallows humor – but you can master that in Vienna anyway.