每日英語跟讀 Ep.K346: Our Ever-Expanding Virus Vernacular
The coronavirus pandemic has upended all kinds of human behavior, including speech. Conversations are mediated by masks and screens, their sentences strung together with new vocabulary: medical terms, political mandates and slang devised to take the clinical edge off.
This new vernacular has many people playing virologist in the group chat, with talk of contact tracing and antibody tests; planning “socially distant” activities like Zoom birthday parties and drive-by greetings; and tweeting about life under “quar,” a pet name for “quarantine”.
“‘Self-isolation,’‘social distancing,’‘abundance of caution’— pairs of words I'd never seen together in a sentence back in January have become ubiquitous,” she writes. These phrases are moving “even faster than the virus, eye to mind, ear to mouth, disseminated by our iPhone screens and televisions.”
The proliferation of neologisms and jargon was significant enough to merit updates to the Oxford English Dictionary in April, beyond the dictionary's standard quarterly updates.
“Social change brings about linguistic change,” said Fiona McPherson, a senior editor at the OED. “These are permanent additions to our vocabulary.”
She noted, though, that many of the words aren't new; rather, their use has become more frequent, their meanings shifted in the new context of the pandemic. “Social distancing,” “self-isolation” and “coronavirus” date back decades, even centuries.
McPherson said a lexicographer's job is to be “descriptive, not prescriptive. We're telling the story of what the words mean, but they only mean that because that's how people are using them. And the stories are never completely finished.”
Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and the author of “Because Internet,” raised the example of “face mask,” which a few months ago may have called to mind an at-home skin care treatment. Now, the phrase immediately evokes the protective mouth and nose covering people have been encouraged to wear to prevent viral transmission.
語言學家、《為何網際網路》（Why Internet）一書的作者格雷琴·麥卡洛克（Gretchen McCulloch）舉了一個“口罩”的例子，幾個月前，這種面膜可能讓人想起了一種家庭臉部護理。現在，這句話立即喚起了人們被鼓勵戴上保護性口鼻罩以防止病毒傳播的防護服。
This evolution in the language can be seen as well in the rhetoric of care providers and politicians, which varies by region. The states are“on pause”or working to“flatten the curve,”their residents told to“stay at home,”“shelter in place”or remain“healthy at home.”
The World Health Organization has recommended that“physical distancing”replace“social distancing” because it more accurately describes the goal of keeping a physical distance while still encouraging safe, remote social connection, which is imperative for mental health.
世界衛生組織建議“保持身體距離”取代“社交距離”，因為它更準確地描述了保持身體距離的目標，同時仍然鼓勵安全，遠端的社交活動，這對心理健康至關重要。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/4602077