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

Frank Miles:

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).