During the first corona lockdown last spring, there was a temporary boom that can be considered one of the most humane causes of this pandemic: For a while, people hung bags of food on fences. From there, the needy could pick them down for free. This so-called gift fence did not become a lasting trend. Nevertheless, this very nice term made it onto a list of Corona word creations of the Leibniz Institute for German Language (IDS).

The Mannheim Institute documents linguistic developments in German. The IDS has now taken stock of the past ten years in general and 2020 in particular. It turns out that the group of newly created terms that are somehow related to Corona now comprises around 1000 words. This ranges from the so-called “AHA rule” (distance, hygiene, everyday mask) to the “immunity pass” (which still only exists as an idea) to “corona sex”, for which there are two definitions: sex with protective clothing, that is For example with mouth and nose protection, as well as sex, for which you had more time and opportunity during the corona pandemic.

Hotspot, superspreader, lockdown – Anglicisms are booming

What is striking, if not surprising, is the large number of Anglicisms that have spilled into German usage with the Corona waves: “Hotspot”, “Superspreader” or “Lockdown light” neither need to be explained nor translated. Another group is made up of terms that do not always help to describe breaks in society that have not always been caused by Corona, but which have been enlarged by the pandemic: Of course, there have been “anti-vaccinations” before, but with the “hygiene demonstrations” they have received a new platform . The IDS has observed that in connection with these demonstrations established neologisms such as “Reichsbürger” are increasingly being used in previous years. Other terms in this area are “pegidist” or “identitarian”.

Football games in “ghost mode”, i.e. without spectators, also existed before Corona. However, they used to be exceptions, for example as penalties for clubs whose fans had misbehaved particularly badly. Now this mode is standard.

New non-corona words often have something to do with social media

In the past ten years, many new terms have emerged, also apart from Corona. Of course, many of these have to do with social media, for example “phubbing” – “the (excessive) use of mobile communication devices that is perceived as annoying and that interrupts social interactions or prevents them from occurring”. Or the “social bot”, ie a “computer program that reproduces human behavior in social networks and acts as a (false) account, mostly with the purpose of influencing opinion”.

Such bots proved to be particularly effective in influencing the EU referendum in Great Britain four years ago. At that time the terms “Brexiteer” and “Remainer” arose for Brexit supporters and opponents, respectively. They will probably also be used after the UK left the EU at the end of this year – just like the term that emerged during the administration of the current President of the United States: “Trumpism”.

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