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How Covid-19 is Shaping Language

Collins Dictionary have announced their words of the year and, unsurprisingly, Covid-19 has shaped a large part of what has been written over the last 11 months (their analysis is based on websites, books, newspapers and spoken material from other media.

Their word of the year is ‘lockdown’, based on more than a quarter of a million uses during 2020. Collins define lockdown as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”.

In total, seven of the ten words of the year relate to Covid-19, with only ‘Megxit’, ‘mukbang’, and ‘TikToker’. Other Covid-19 related words include ‘social/physical distancing, coronavirus, furlough, key worker, and self-isolate. Helen Newstead, a language content consultant for Collins, says, “… it is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world.” Although it has shaped our experiences this year, this is definitely a word I would prefer not to use again.

Hopefully, 2021 will see some more positive additions to our language!

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