Here is the transcript of series 1, episode 2: Corona and German.
LG = Luke Green
BS = Barbara Soukup
FR = Frauke Rüdebusch
Note: Where I’ve written [ka] or [kva] next to the word Quarantäne, I’m marking whether the beginning of the word is pronounced as [ka] or [kva] respectively.
LG: At the time of this episode going out, it has been roughly one year since COVID-19 first started to spread across the world. In that time, our lives have changed drastically. The way we interact with people has changed, the way we behave in public has changed, there are face masks and hand sanitisers, conspiracy theories and national lockdowns. Such a drastic transformation of our everyday lives has naturally had a sizeable impact on the language we use. In English, words such as quarantine, furlough and pandemic itself have become commonplace, and we’ve seen new words enter our lexicon like “covidiot” for someone who acts irresponsibly or recklessly in the context of the corona crisis. Of course, not only English has seen changes, but many languages, including German. And that’s what this episode is about. We’re going to be looking at how this pandemic has changed or affected the German language over the past year. So let’s do it, let’s crack on with the show.
This is Yellow of the Egg, the podcast where we form a social bubble with the German language. I’m Luke Green, and this is episode 2, Corona and German.
BS: Has language changed? Well, yes. Because language changes all the time. Whenever we enter new life circumstances, immediately that triggers a language change. Why? Because language is the way we do things and we interact, right? So that’s always a reflection of our activities, and it’s actually also a mode of carrying out activities. So immediately when there’s a change in life circumstances, we change our language.
LG: Barbara Soukup is a sociolinguist working at the University of Vienna. She has an assistant professorship for the sociolinguistics of Austrian German, and is currently working on a project investigating strategic language use in public space and the linguistic landscape. With the arrival of the new coronavirus in the German-speaking countries and regions, the language you hear and see started to change in accordance with these new circumstances.
BS: So, you know, there’s a list of vocabulary that has entered the language just for the reason that we need words to describe a new situation. We need new words or we adapt old words. But, you know, as long as we’re doing new things, we need new words to describe them new concepts, or you know, new terminology. As long as you’re, sort of, you know, a specialist in something, or you’re really into some activity, you’re gonna have special words for it. And now we’re specialising in coronavirus, so we’re gonna have a lot of words for that. And we’re going to, or hopefully not going to, corona parties, so Coronapartys. You know, that was not a thing, but now we know that’s a thing. And it’s not about the beer, right? It’s about the virus. Now we actually know that, you know, corona is also a virus and not just, kinda, a beer brand. We’re back to doing Hamsterkäufe. That was a thing of, you know, the post-war years or something. We didn’t know that was gonna come back, but, you know, eventually it did. We have new things that we couldn’t imagine even a year ago, like Ausgangsbeschränkungen, and Maskenpflicht. Like, even just a year ago if you told us this was gonna happen, we were like, “yeah, no… Like, nobody’s gonna do that”.
LG: It’s likely not many of us would have predicted what 2020 was to bring. And as such, we couldn’t have seen this influx of new vocabulary coming. While language changes all the time and we gain new words and lose others, 2020 was decidedly coronacentric when it came to lexical novelties. This is reflected in the German Wort des Jahres, the word of the year, which is announced annually by the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache, the Association for the German Language.
FR: We are collecting words all over the year because at the end of the year we are voting for or choosing a word of the year.
LG: This is Frauke Rüdebusch, a research associate at the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache. In addition to her role as an advisor on matters concerning first names, she conducts research into various aspects of the German language. The corona pandemic dominated the German language, as with many other languages, to such an extent in 2020 that over half of the top ten words in this collection were related to corona in some way or another. There were words such as Lockdown and Triage, with Corona-Pandemie coming out on top as the word of the year. There were so many words to choose from though, with a sizeable proportion of them being to do with corona.
FR: And within this selection of words, we have about one or 2,000 words that we have at the end of the year. We collect them in newspapers, in radios, in everything that we see around us every day.
LG: Among the words that have become popular over the past year are completely new words, or new uses of old words.
FR: Like frühlingshaft. Which is actually an adjective, it’s like ‘spring-like’. But frühlingshaft has become a noun this year in the context of: In the spring we had to stay at home. So it’s kind of a Haft, when you go to jail, you are in Haft. So Frühlingshaft is a new word which is converted from the adjective frühlingshaft to a noun with a completely different meaning, and only understandable in the context of corona.
LG: Of course, who’s to say these words will actually last, especially if they already existed as a word in other contexts like frühlingshaft.
FR: You never know when corona some day will be passed, and we will think of it, yes, as, back then, maybe no one will know what Frühlingshaft actually meant. Then it will be back to its old meaning and back to being only an adjective. But now, in this context, it has this new meaning, and everyone will know about it.
LG: We have seen the introduction of a lot of words formed with the word Corona itself.
FR: There are quite a lot of new adjectives, not only formed of Corona and a second word or Corona and a suffix, but also like Corona itself formed into an adjective. So you have coronabedingt, coronamäßig, coronafrei, then there’s coronahaft, coronageplagt. But also you have, which is maybe not in a standard context but more like in a comedy context, which is coronös. It’s formed like skandalös. Or you have coronig, so Corona is combined with the suffix -ig. Which is a suffix in many many adjectives, lustig, and so on.
LG: How would you use coronig in a sentence?
FR: Well, I wouldn’t. I think it’s really more like used in a context of comedy, or playing with words. Coronige Erfahrungen, maybe, coronige Zustände. Coronöse Zustände. Maybe something like that.
LG: In addition to these brand-new words, we have also seen the introduction of words that might have been a thing before, but now they’re just everywhere, and everyone knows what they mean.
BS: We have, you know, travel restrictions, Reisebeschränkungen. We watch for the coronavirus updates every day like for sports results. So, you know, we’re like, kind of, looking, is it going up, is it going down. We’re watching this, so that’s a new activity and we have new words for that. You know, the Neuinfektionen, that’s a thing now. And we all know what’s meant, right? It’s not even confusing, we all know a Neuinfektion, you just throw at that word, and we don’t even- We have the context. The context is omnipresent. So we know how to interpret that. Even when you say “the virus”. There’s no question what virus we’re talking about, right? It’s the coronavirus. It’s always there’s like this linkage between language and context. But within the context we’re in now, we know how to interpret even old words in new ways. We know what a, you know, which virus we’re talking about. We’re knowing which kind of infection rate we’re talking about. We’re wondering whether we are a Risikogruppe. We kinda learnt the word, the Vulnerablen. So that’s a fancy word for saying we’re part of the Risikogruppe, if we are.
FR: Yeah, then like zoomen, a verb, which stems from Zoom, obviously. We didn’t have that before. And actually before the pandemic, I didn’t know what Zoom is.
BS: And it’s not connected to photography any longer. You know, it used to be zoomen was something you did to get a close-up of something. But now it’s an activity, and the only way to see your grandparents, sometimes.
FR: Then there are many funny words like Krisenfrisen. When the hairdressers couldn’t open, we all had to grow our hair. So we had new haircuts, which were called Krisenfrisen, like in a crisis you have a haircut that you actually don’t want.
LG: A Frise being a short, very colloquial form of the more standard Frisur, a haircut or a hairstyle.
FR: Then there are words like Hust-und-Nies-Etiquette. So there is an etiquette for how you have to cough or how you have to sneeze. So actually, well, maybe we knew before that we had to sneeze into our elbow. But now there is an etiquette for it. You have to do it if you want to be nice. If it’s ok around people to cough or sneeze, you have to do this.
LG: Of course, along with these social rules on how to cough and sneeze appropriately, we have these by now all too familiar rules on how close we can even get to each other. And naturally this has brought with it a host of new words to describe what we’re doing now. Just think of when we greet people.
FR: You don’t hug each other anymore, you just wave your hand, which is Coronawinke. Or you do a greeting with your feet, so it’s Fußgruß.
LG: And of course there’s the whole social distancing thing in general, whereby phrases such as social distancing itself seem to have been adopted into German as anglicisms to a certain extent.
BS: Well, the social distancing one I actually, I feel like that’s- that’s one we like because Abstand halten, to some extent, it just sounds old- I mean, there is this thing, if you do the research on language attitudes and anglicisms, you do find that anglicisms and English sounds more modern, and you, sort of, maybe even progressive and global and international. And if that’s something you want, then you go with the English word, right? So, you know, even, maybe it’s even cooler or younger. I don’t know why we need to be cool and young about this. But I also think it’s this, you know, I’m gonna use the word distancing, but it’s also a sort of like a personal distancing from a word. Words that you don’t like are maybe easier to handle if you use them in a foreign language. I certainly find myself swearing more easily in English, and I’m sure I use worse language than I ever would in my native language. Because I have this certain- you know, I didn’t grow up swearing in English, so I don’t have this innate horror of certain terms, the f-word for example. So I would probably never use the same terminology in German for swearing that I use in English. And I think it’s a little bit of that effect as well. If you’re saying social distancing, maybe you have an easier time facing it than Abstand halten.
LG: But in addition to English words perhaps being easier to deal with than the German ones for many German first language speakers, there is also the component of the German equivalents not quite capturing the same essence of the English terms.
FR: Social distancing is a little difficult because social has a very complex meaning in German. In German it’s not this gesellschaftlich, it’s also a ranking factor, sozial. So it’s, ah, it’s a bit difficult to translate it. Maybe you can say Abstand halten, but that’s not quite the same. Because you can socially distance yourself from others by secluding yourself at home. But if you want to go on a distance, like Abstand halten is keeping your distance from another person, it can be one and a half metres, or two metres. And that’s not the same as social distance. Not quite the same.
LG: The adoption of anglicisms into German is nothing new. In fact, anglicisms are pretty much commonplace all over the world nowadays.
FR: English is the lingua franca for cultures and languages and countries. So most people learn English, most people in the world will understand English. I have no figures, but it’s a language that is understood everywhere. Maybe not by everyone, but everywhere. So if we have a worldwide phenomenon, English is the language to use to describe what’s going on.
LG: And as such, there are plenty of other anglicisms that have been adopted into German in addition to Social-Distancing. We have Home-Office, Lockdown, and Distance-Learning to name just a few of the more common ones. Again, we could find German equivalents, but the question is whether they would really have the same meaning. Home-Office is perhaps one of the easier ones to find a German term for, at least perhaps in German German.
FR: There are so many equivalents for Home-Office, that’s no problem. Like Heimbüro is a very common German word actually. It’s no problem to understand it, everyone will know what it actually means. Then there’s a new word which is Kammer-Office, which is a hybrid, obviously. Kammer for room, Office stays the same.
BS: Certainly in the terminology of the university where I teach, we did use to talk about Home-Learning, which wasn’t a thing, I guess, in English. I think Home-Learning was not a word or like an expression. So now we’re talking about Distance-Learning and we’re talking about digitale Lehre, actually, and we know what Hybrid-Teaching is.
LG: It seems sometimes the German equivalents make it to some extent, like digitale Lehre, but sometimes the English terms seem to prevail, like with Home-Office or Distance-Learning. And of course, there’s the big one: Lockdown. Even governments of German-speaking countries are using this one, perhaps because there simply isn’t a nice convenient German equivalent that truly captures all there is to this word.
FR: Lockdown, another word which is a little difficult to translate because there’s only a verb actually which describes it in Germany, which is herunterfahren. To shut down, to lock down everything, you- du fährst herunter. You shut your shops, you lock down your economy. It’s much easier to describe it with a noun in English than in German. So maybe Ausgangssperre would be a word but it’s not the same as Lockdown.
LG: Ausgangssperre essentially being a ban on going out. Which only really covers part of lockdown, the staying-at-home part, not the shutdown of the economy, for example. In Austria we refer less so to an Ausgangssperre and more to Ausgangsbeschränkungen, so restrictions on going out. Still not capturing the whole essence of lockdown. And then there’s simply the way the word lockdown sounds that might make it more appealing to use in German.
BS: Because, I mean, a lockdown, even, like, it has a certain severity to it, right? It’s not just a closure. It’s like a- it’s a thing. There’s like a machinery that does this. So there’s like all these locks and bolts kinda that, in the metaphor, that get, like, you know, closed and locked. But, you know, even I myself, I just used it to describe what my kindergarten is going through. They’re in lockdown. And that’s it, you can’t get in.
LG: But sometimes the anglicisms are used just because it allows for word play that isn’t possible in German. Such as one of my favourite anglicisms in the context of corona.
FR: The mask has become a Mask-Have.
LG: Get it? Because the mask is a must-have? So it’s a mask-have? Puns aside, the masks that we all have to wear nowadays are a great source of new language material. In German you can refer to them in everyday speech as Masken, just like the English masks. But we can hear a whole range of other terms for them, depending on the context and the region.
FR: There are so many words for the mask, which is like Schnutenpulley. Schnute is a word for the mouth in northern Germany, in the dialect up there. Pulley is a word for the sweater. So it’s a sweater for your mouth, actually.
BS: Trying to be funny you’d might even call it Gesichtsfetzen or something.
LG: Which translates to something like a ‘face rag’.
BS: But that’s probably when you’re just annoyed with it, right?
LG: This is of course very different to how these items are referred to in official settings. In the UK, a mask is often called a ‘face covering’ by the government, which is perhaps a little misleading since you’re only supposed to cover half your face. The German-speaking world is a little more specific in this context.
FR: We do have the word Maske, of course. It’s the most common, I think. But we do also have a lot of new and other words, like Mund-Nase-Bedeckung.
LG: Which is a mouth-nose-covering.
FR: And I think, as you said, it’s more specific as Maske. But, well, it’s also not only more specific, but it’s also used in a more standardised context. So if we talk about what we have in our faces, I would never say I have a Mund-Nase-Bedeckung with me. I would say I have my mask with me. So I think it depends on where you use it, how it’s used, if it’s used to describe the Mund-Nase-Bedeckung compared to FFP-2-Maske, for example, which is a more medical thing.
LG: This Mund-Nase-Bedeckung is the more common official term in Germany. In Austria we have Mund-Nasen-Schutz, which rather translates as ‘mouth-nose-protection’. Which still specifies that the mouth and the nose specifically should be covered. Which you would think would make it clearer to people that both the mouth and the nose should be covered and that you shouldn’t have your nose poking out the top of the mask. I guess there’s no telling some people. Perhaps this is one reason why settings such as public transport opt for the more specific Mund-Nasen-Schutz as opposed to something like a face-covering or a mask.
BS: If you go on the Wiener Linien, I think what they’re saying is: “Sehr geehrte Fahrgäste, tragen Sie einen Mund-Nasen-Schutz.” Though I couldn’t vouch for that for the German version. The English version definitely is: “Dear passengers, cover your mouth and nose”.
LG: As things developed over the course of 2020 and it became clear that the second wave in autumn was much more severe than the first, any remnants of colloquial language in spaces such as public transport started to disappear.
BS: And we have come away from August where they’d have all these jokey kinds of, “Naserl hinein, so muss es sein”. You know, there’s like a kind of campaign where it’s like “Oh we’re gonna make this cute”. No it’s not cute anymore, it’s like, “you do this”. We’re not even asking you to please do it. They’re not saying please. And that’s noticeable to me. Because usually when they’re telling you to get up from your seat and give it up to another person or something, they’re asking you “please do this”. But here, no please, no bitte. It’s just, “you do this”.
LG: It’s interesting to see how the seriousness of the language goes in waves along with the seriousness of the situation. In the summer when the numbers were relatively low, or even during the first wave when it was important to keep people’s spirits up, there was a more light-hearted approach to public language use. In Austria for instance, people were initially told to maintain the distance of a baby elephant between each other.
BS: The baby elephant is a nice one because it’s kinda also tongue-in-cheek. So they’re trying to make it, you know, like a fun thing. Even though it’s a very serious thing, and I’m not sure it would be as fun to think about, like, a shopping cart or something, which might come out to the same kind of distance. And then of course the zoo in Schönbrunn picked it up, and they actually had, like, ads saying “Come see our baby elephant” and “It’s cuter than the one that you’re imagining”, or something like that, I don’t know exactly what it was. So that was definitely some kind of ad campaign that somebody ran.
LG: There were many advertising campaigns that played on things like keeping one’s distance, like this baby elephant example.
FR: Or something like Sie sind mit Abstand der beste Kunde.
LG: Which means “You are by far the best customer”. Again, we love the puns. Word plays and jokes played a big part in coping with the crisis last year, and will likely continue to do so.
FR: That is something that you can see in every crisis. Not only the severe part of it, but also the part of it where this tension has to find its way out by making fun of it. To make people smile about something that’s not actually very funny.
LG: The crisis seems to have put a magnifying glass over some aspects of language and has allowed us to create puns and jokes that wouldn’t have worked before. In a similar vein, while people have always been interested in language and there have always been disagreements and disputes about what might be correct or grammatical, certain disputes have moved into the spotlight now that they have become more relevant. Such as the correct grammatical gender for the word Virus, ‘virus’. Some say das Virus, neuter, some say der Virus, masculine. You’re likely to hear both in many contexts, but which is definitively correct?
FR: Das Virus is correct in the specific context.
LG: So for instance in a context among specialists,
FR: But it’s also correct to say der Virus in a more colloquial language.
LG: Of course, the question as to which version is correct is itself not uncontroversial. Both der Virus and das Virus are given in various dictionaries as equally possible and correct, while some resources seem to prefer das Virus and give der Virus as a colloquial variant. Another dispute that has come to the forefront is the correct pronunciation of the German word for quarantine. Is it Quarantäne [kva] or Quarantäne [ka]?
BS: Oh I’m 100% Quarantäne [kva]. That’s where I’m coming from. I was so surprised to learn that there’s even another possibility. I didn’t know. I was like Quarantäne [kva] all the way. And I can actually vouch for my parents, what they say or where I took it from. I know at least, I feel like surrounded by Quarantäne [ka] people. Even like my own husband is a Quarantäne [ka].
LG: It seems to be a bit of a scone-scone debate. You say tomato, I say tomato, you say Quarantäne, I say Quarantäne.
BS: So we’re at 68% Quarantäne [ka] and about 30% Quarantäne [kva] right now.
LG: That’s the proportion of the different pronunciations of the word in Austria according to an online study Barbara conducted last year.
BS: The remaining 2% are, most of the time, they just have different orthographies for one of these pronunciations. So there was no clear pattern of regional distribution and a very beautiful age effect where you have the under 18s, it’s like 80:20 Quarantäne [ka]. And then it starts changing. And then you get to the 41-to-50-year-olds, so that’s my age bracket, and we’re sort of half, almost half-and-half. Or at least, you know, around age 50, this is where it flips over. And then the 51-to-60-year-olds, all of a sudden you have more /kvara/ than /kara/. And then you go to the 71+ and they’re 80:20 the other way round.
LG: So it seems in Austria at least, younger people are more likely to say Quarantäne [ka] and older people more readily say Quarantäne [kva].
BS: So that’s just beautiful from a sociolinguistic perspective. You’re like, there’s this, you know, that’s language change right there.
LG: The distribution of /kara/ versus /kvara/ looks a little different in Germany though.
BS: But it’s funny because a colleague of mine in Germany, he loved my study, so he decided to replicate it in Germany. And they have a lot more /kara/ than we do. They’re like a quarter /kvara/ and 75% Quarantäne [ka]. But then you get to Bavaria and Saxony and they have a lot higher rate of /kvara/ than in the rest of Germany. So there there’s a regional, definitely a regional difference. In Austria I didn’t find that.
LG: What about if we look to the etymology of the word? While this might not have much of a bearing on what people actually say in everyday speech, it might give us a clue as to how it was originally pronounced when it entered German. So etymologically speaking, Quarantäne [kva] or Quarantäne [ka]?
FR: Quarantäne [ka]. It’s not Quarantäne [kva]. It’s Quarantäne [ka] because it’s a French word.
LG: The pronunciation of qu as [k] isn’t common in German though.
FR: No, no no. You say Quebec [k] because it’s a French city in Canada. But you wouldn’t say “Kalle” for Qualle. So no, no, definitely not. It’s just because it’s French, and we know that it’s French, and has come from France to us.
LG: Even so, there are some sources which also report the possible influence of Italian in this context, which would speak more for Quarantäne [kva]. While this may potentially play more of a role in Austria as a neighbouring country to Italy, it shows that there is at least some basis for both pronunciations. Perhaps this is something that simply cannot be definitively settled. After all, it is now a German word, even if it entered the language as a foreign word at first. Since other German words with qu are pronounced as [kv], like Qualle, jellyfish, it stands to reason that many people would pronounce Quarantäne [kva]. Although it’s strange that the younger generations are now increasingly saying Quarantäne [ka].
BS: But it’s so fun actually because you can endlessly talk about languages. Nobody’s gonna be right or more right than the next person, right? It’s all just gonna be like, these feelings about language, this Sprachgefühl, whatever and wherever you picked it up. But this Quarantäne [ka] – Quarantäne [kva] thing is a really, it’s a fun thing to investigate because it was so under the radar, right? We didn’t have any use for the word, or at least a lot of use for the word for the longest time. So it’s not like people had social affiliations, or at least that we know of, that determined which way they were gonna go. But, you know, who knows what underlies this kind of variation.
LG: When we first started hearing about the possibilities of quarantine and lockdown, a certain sense of panic started to set in. And when the first lockdowns were announced, we saw all over the world as people started to panic buy and hoard items such as toilet roll, flour and yeast. In German there is a great word for this: Hamsterkäufe. But what does panic buying have to do with hamsters?
FR: We do have quite some verbs which actually derive from what animals do. Like schlängeln is the movement of the snake. Or tigern is the slow walk of the tiger. And then you have hamstern, which is actually collecting things in your cheeks. That’s what hamsters do, they collect food in their cheeks. So they go around and collect everything they can find. Then they have cheeks like big balloons. But as soon as they are home, they can empty their cheeks and have a lot of food and they don’t have to go out very often to collect new food because they have their food at home. So that’s what people do today, and in the springtime, we have experienced that as well. People go and buy what they need will be important to survive for the next few weeks or even months. So that’s where the word Hamsterkäufe or hamstern derives from. And actually it’s not a new word. The concept of hamstern is known for quite some time. And I think it was around after the first World War that it became part of the vocabulary in German.
BS: Well, I’m trying to think when we had the last Hamsterkäufe. I guess, in the 70s there was, like, the oil crisis, there was some going on where they had a little bit of, maybe, difficulty of delivering goods. But it was really something that we’re- I guess, in my generation, we’re not thinking about the second World War, we’re thinking about eastern Europe where they didn’t have access to a lot of things all the time. But right now, you know, did we think a year from now we’re gonna buy toilet paper by the ton? I don’t think we did.
LG: There are a lot of things we didn’t imagine we’d be doing. And there are ways that we’re interacting that we wouldn’t have imagined before. Think of the ways we talk on the phone or write messages to each other nowadays.
BS: So we’re asking about each other’s health more, and it’s sort of expected. My husband actually, he works in a tech firm. He used to sign off on the phone, he was like, you know, “stay healthy”. That’s not something we did a year ago. It was like “Bye now”. But it was not like “g’sund bleiben” or something like that, right? Or you wouldn’t even write that in an email necessarily, but now it’s all pertinent.
LG: The phrase bleiben Sie gesund can now pretty much be seen or heard in any interaction where you need to say goodbye at the end. Although it’s not new.
FR: Well, you have heard it before, definitely. Maybe, well, if your pharmacy had a writing to you, or these magazines from the pharmacy, if you bought a medicine, or if you went to the doctor, or whatever, or if you had an advertisement on the TV, it said bleiben Sie gesund in the context of medication. But now bleiben Sie gesund is an everyday phrase. You have it everywhere. You- Instead of saying Bye, you say bleiben Sie gesund. Instead of ending your emails with viele Grüße you say bleiben Sie gesund. So it has taken on in every context.
BS: And you almost feel like there’s a gap if you don’t put any reference to health and staying healthy in your emails.
LG: Of course, there’s always the question of whether this will last. Will we be saying bleiben Sie gesund to people in emails five years down the line? Will we be talking about Replikationsfaktoren or Triage when this is all over? Will words like exponentiell and Viruzid fall back out of the mainstream vocabulary and go back to being specialised language? Will people know what is meant when we talk about baby elephants?
FR: Definitely some words will last, we don’t know which ones that will be. Like Infodemie, I think, is something that might last.
LG: An Infodemie being an infodemic, a pandemic of information, some being accurate, and some being not-so-accurate.
FR: But then, other words will disappear. As soon as the pandemic is over, as soon as we don’t have corona anymore, maybe we will know what the words mean and what they stood for, and that we needed them back then to describe our everyday circumstances, but as soon as we won’t need these words in our everyday circumstances anymore, they will have no hold to last on for another fifty years or so. Yeah of course there’s words that will go back into their specific areas, like Viruloge or Viruzid, or whatever. They will be used there as well. But not in everyday language.
BS: As long as the activities and things that we use and do stay, then the language stays. And it’ll still change because there’s fashion and there’s always gonna be, like, new waves of language use coming in. Just because, you know, people feel like the old ones got too specific or too tied to a certain context and we need new words or new nuances, even, of words to come in. But, you know, if we’re keeping up the habits and the activities and the things, then we’re keeping up the language. And if those change, then it just all goes out the window. And I guess a lot of the things that we have acquired we’re very happy to see go. Like, you know, I don’t need to know- I don’t need my grandchildren to know what a Gesichtsvisier is. But maybe they will have to, I don’t know.
LG: I guess all we can do is hope that soon words like Gesichtsvisier, Triage and Neuinfektionen will no longer be necessary in everyday language. Well, we can hope, and of course keep wearing our masks, washing our hands, and keeping that baby elephant between us.
LG: Thank you so much to Barbara Soukup of the University of Vienna and Frauke Rüdebusch of the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache for joining me for this episode. You can find information about Barbara’s work, including her Quarantäne-Quarantäne study, as well as lots of links to pages all about corona language recommended by Barbara on the podcast website, yellowoftheegg.com. Barbara is also collecting data for another project she’s involved in, and she is looking for any interesting artefacts from the Austrian linguistic landscape – language use on signs, on rubbish bins, on posters – so if you want to send her anything you find interesting, she’d be grateful for the contributions. I’ll put all the information on the website. Definitely have a look.
On this page you can also find information about Frauke’s work and links to the website of the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache, including to some of the articles that Frauke has written. The article series about the language of the coronavirus pandemic on the GfdS website was partly the inspiration for this episode, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
If you want to get in touch with me, you can find me on Instagram at YOTEPodcast, that’s Y-O-T-E-Podcast, or you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to subscribe and leave a nice five-star rating so this podcast series can get out to as many people as possible, that would make me very very happy indeed.
So with all that being said, thank you so much for listening, and until next time, machts es gut, bleibts gesund, servus aus Wien.