by Aaron Cowan
It’s a mouthful to say the Novel Corona Virus Epidemic of 2019. It would be helpful to have another, more convenient term in order to accurately describe it. Many people just call it the “Corona virus”, but there are many Corona viruses already in nature and none so far have been like the current infection. Just calling it this is like calling every smartphone an Android or iPhone. The individual models matter.
People also talk about epidemics and pandemics, but it is not really clear that people know the difference between such terms or that this really matters much. It is enough to say that we are experiencing The Great Covidemic of 2020 or just The Covidemic, for short.
Linguists would classify this type of coined terminology as a “portmanteau”, where the beginning and end of two words are spliced together. It is a pretty common technique that we use fairly trivially, as when we talk about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie being Brangelina. However, it can be used more familiar things like podcasting or weblogs (aka blogs).
Certainly just giving something a name doesn’t always do much. It does little to address the terrible havoc that this disease is inflicting upon our world, the likes of which most of us have never seen in living memory. However, on another level, words are important, and being able to talk about this event with clarity and convenience will be important as we all struggle to pick up the pieces and figure out our next move.