Ultimately virility is all about helping others express their reluctantly shared feelings while doing so from a safe distance. Words are pale shadows of forgotten names.
By Nazarul Islam
Obviously, the first lesson in constructing the viral content is having the strength, courage, and self-confidence to get in touch with your own feelings, thinking about what has profoundly affects you.
Not many days ago, I was in a queue at the bank when a young man breezed in without a mask. He tried to get ahead of the queue but soon vanished when he was told off. “Covidiot”, muttered the lady in front of me. I smiled to myself, amused that my vocabulary was enriched by another new word, born out of the times we live in.
It all began with the word coronavirus over a year ago, a term I had never heard before. I was aware of Corona beer and Carona footwear. As the virus spread, I learned to distinguish between Coronavirus and Covid-19, the disease caused by the former. Gradually, over the months, my vocabulary expanded as the pandemic took hold and brought in its wake a flurry of new words and phrases that travelled as fast as the virus.
The new words, a combination of medical jargon and newfangled slang, gained entry into my vocabulary by word of mouth, newspapers and social media platforms.
In the early months, the words I picked up seemed a bit daunting – pandemic, quarantine, self-isolating, social distancing, lockdown, asymptomatic, flatten the curve, herd immunity, Covaxin, Covishield, Zoom, etc. Alongside these emerged some abbreviations that initially baffled me – WFH (work from home), PPE (personal protective equipment), BCV and ACV (before and after coronavirus). Now they have become commonplace.
As Covid-19 became deadly and lockdowns became frequent, wordsmiths began to lighten the grim situation, injecting humour and creativity in coining words and phrases. Thus came Covideo party, Covexit, Coronacation, Covid-10, Corona babies, elbow bump and a slew of other words in our day-to-day conversations.
When I heard Covirgin (one not yet infected) and Quarantini (any cocktail you make with Martini during quarantine at home), I could not help admiring the lexical innovation.
Politicians were not far behind to merrily mouth Coronavirus inspired metaphors to drive home their message. Didn’t we hear Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Modi and others utter war metaphors such as ‘dangerous,’ ‘serious,’ ‘we are at war,’ ‘battle,’ ‘frontline,’ ‘fight this deadly invisible enemy’? Moreover, travel and sports metaphors such as “we are all in the same boat in stormy seas” or “this is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” respectively.
Researchers at King’s College, London say more than 1000 new words have been coined since the pandemic began. Even Dictionary.com has created an official Coronavirus lexicon to welcome humour and humility to cope with Covid-19. Much as we all would like to see the pandemic disappear, there does not seem to be any silver lining just yet. So, more new words may come up, further augmenting my vocabulary.
Ultimately virility is all about helping others express their reluctantly shared feelings while doing so from a safe distance. Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. Perhaps is the most impressive language.
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