Words for a pandemic

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to write many posts about the COVID-19 crisis, but I thought I’d take a look at the words we’re using to discuss it.

By the end of 2020 we’ll no doubt find coronavirus-related words topping dictionaries‘ ”word of the year“ lists. Words and phrases like unprecedented, lockdown, co-morbidity, underlying conditions, respirator or social distancing come to mind, as well as new words like zoombombing. There’s talk also of “coronial” to describe babies born in 2020, but let’s hope that one doesn’t take off. The word already exists (as I’ve just found out) and means “of or relating to a coroner”.

Coping with the pandemic: a word that might help

One word that I’d include in my own words of the year is ”resilience”. Merriam Webster defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”, Collins as “the ability to recover strength, spirits, good humor, etc. quickly; buoyancy”. So resilience is a desirable quality. It provides a sort of buffer that helps us absorb the shocks we’re experiencing and prevents them from damaging us to our very core. That applies to us as individuals and to society as a whole. And it certainly applies to the economy.

The 2008 financial crisis led to an increased focus on banks’ resilience to economic/financial shocks. In 2020, businesses of all sizes (including tiny translation, editing and interpreting businesses) will need to be resilient to somehow keep ticking over and get back into gear when the coronavirus crisis eases off.

What about you? Are there words being used to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic that set your teeth on edge or that give you a sense of hope, optimism and strength?

And how do you build and nurture resilience?

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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