4 Jul, 2020 @ 11:00
2 mins read

First coronavirus laid waste to our lifestyles, now it’s invading our language, writes Belinda Beckett

Belinda Cuarenpena Goes Better With A Quarantini

HOW’S your New Normal working out? If, like me, you don a visor over your face mask like a medieval knight of old every time you step out of the front door, probably not that normally

Even with these extreme precautions, the world is full of ‘covidiotas’ no matter how socially distanced you try to be. Last week on my dawn hike through the campo I was forced off the bridle path into a thicket of thistles by five walkers and two big dogs marching abreast minus masks or muzzles. I refrained from faking a hacking cough as they passed…

The Spanish have another word – coronaburros – to describe those demonstrating asinine stupidity under the present circumstances (although it’s a bit racist to donkeys). Carallovirus (Galician for f.ckvirus) and cuarenpena (the pain of quarantine) are other neat neologisms here. Globally there has been a viral explosion of new words. The Oxford English Dictionary has already printed an extra edition to include them.   

Belinda Cuarenpena Goes Better With A Quarantini

Covidivorce may not have made the cut but there’s been an explosion of those too. In Saudi Arabia marital breakups shot up by 30% during lockdown when Muslim women got to find out about their husband’s secret ‘other wives’. They’re allowed up to four under Sharia law. 

Being zumped (dumped by your partner on Zoom), possibly after you gave them a dose of Miley Cyrus (Cockney rhyming slang) are unlikely to make the OED but I’d like to see Blursday recorded for posterity – that fuzzy don’t-know-what-day-it-is feeling you have all week instead of just on Sunday mornings. Coronials (babies conceived in the time of coronavirus), is also kind of cute.

The Germans have a great word for the panic buying that laid siege to supermarket shelves at the outbreak of the crisis: hamsterkauf (a merger of ‘hamster’ and ‘buy’). A video of a signer interpreting a government minister’s warning not to hoard food with a twitching nose and clawing rodent paws went viral. 

Belinda Neologisms Have Gone Viral

Coronaspeck (lockdown flab) describes the curve that needs flattening above hamsterkaufer belts and the Germans also gave us geisterspiel – ghost game – coined when their Bundesliga premiered the beautiful game in stadia without fans. I can’t see it catching on even if it solves soccer hooliganism at a stroke.

Out East, everyone’s talking about chao zuo ye, a trending hashtag on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) since Donald Trump called Covid-19 ‘The Chinese Virus’ and, later, ‘Kung Flu’. Literally, it means to copy someone’s homework. In Chinese Covidspeak, it means that the West is copying their pioneering pandemic tactics without giving them credit. 

Personally I wish we’d done a bit more copying and we might have emerged from ‘hibernation’, as Boris Johnson so quaintly put it, a lot sooner.

Me, I’m diving back into my burrow and reverting to Covidmodo (keeping my head down to avoid the covidiotas) with a quart of quarantinis to ease the cuarenpena. Namaste!

Belinda Beckett (Columnist)

Belinda Beckett is a qualified journalist and freelance writer based in the Campo de Gibraltar, specialising in travel & lifestyle features and humour columns.

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