In the last couple of months, coronavirus has fundamentally changed our lives. It has had an impact on school attendance, work, pastime activity, all aspects of our lives. We still come across a number of jokes and cartoons presented on various social media.

The frequency of terms like outbreak, epidemic, pandemic, self-isolating, face mask, quarantine, lockdown, social distancing, transmission, to take measures, have significantly increased in use. Coronavirus has led to an explosion of new words and phrases, both in English and in other languages.

Let us present some completely new words which originated. These include:

  • covidiot – someone ignoring public health advice;
  • covideo party – online parties via Zoom or Skype; covexit – the strategy for exiting lockdown;
  • Blursday – an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time;
  • infodemic – a blend of „information“ and „epidemic“ typically referring to a sudden and excessive amount of information about a problem;
  • Zoombombing– hijacking a Zoom videocall;
  • Quarannteams – online teams created during lockdown who helped people deal with changing work circumstances;

WFH – working from home. Recently, we have across a new term, coming from German, “Kurzarbeit”. It is not common that a German word is adapted by other languages. It is definitely more common that other languages adapt English terms.

In Germany the system of “Kurzarbeit” has been used for a long time.

In English the term “short-time work” is sometimes used. 

In the USA the term used is “furlough” (nútená dovolenka – nucená dovolená”.

 In the United Kingdom this term was used as early as at the beginning of the 20th century and then “furlough” meant a holiday from a military service. When missionaries were not on their mission but at home on a holiday, they also had “furlough”. It was only in 2020, that the London government passed the law on “furlough”. It was because of the situation which was caused by the coronavirus crisis. Before 2020, this term was more or less unknown and unused in connection with “partial work”. Just to demonstrate that the same English words are not used across all English-speaking countries, Canadian English does not use the word “furlough”, but “lay off”. In other variants of English, “lay off” means to fire somebody from work. And to make the situation even more complicated, the Germans use the term “Zwangsurlaub”, which refers to a forced holiday, the end date of which an employee cannot be certain about, however, one gets a complete salary. Teachers also have the so-called “Zwangsurlaub”, i.e., summer holiday which is mandatory, ordered by school authorities.

ACTIVITIES: Now we will provide you with more terms on the basis of which you will prepare a presentation about how you experienced spring 2020 crisis:

Schools were cancelled; Large gatherings were banned; Travel was being restricted; Countries were sealing their borders; People were stacking up on groceries (this is ok) Some people were hoarding goods (this is negative); The vulnerable (older people, weak, sick) were protected and hunkered down (stay in a safe place); People had to maintain social distancing; Washing hands frequently was recommended; We had to avoid touching our face, mouth, nose, eyes, etc. May you and your family stay strong and healthy.

Janka Něničková

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