In coronatime, Slovenian language ushers in coronaidiots

Ljubljana, 8 April - The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly changed life in Slovenia and the rest of the world, a change perhaps best reflected in language, which has reacted fast to put the new reality into words. Slovenian has thus made room for social distancing, coronahumour and coronaidiots.

A special version of Fran, a platform of web dictionaries, dedicated to Covid-19.

A poster urging people to stay at home.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

More than three weeks into the lockdown, Slovenian has a plethora of new words to deal with the epidemic and its fallout, some borrowed from foreign languages, some given a new meaning, some brought back from oblivion and some brand new.

The novel words are so many that the platform of web dictionaries, run by the Fran Ramovš Institute of Slovenian Language affiliated with the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts, released a special version called Fran, Covid-19.

The words admitted range from alpha coronavirus (alfakoronavirus) to helicopter money (helikopterski denar), corona package, corona law and corona bond (koronapaket, koronazakon, koronaobveznica) to corona crisis (koronakriza) and corona time (koronačas).

Slovenians have embraced the corona greeting (koronapozdrav) and even various types of isolation (samoizolacija, samokarantena, samoosamitev), while they look down on corona idiots (koronaidiot) and corona panic (koronapanika).

Interestingly enough, the Slovenian word for infectious (kužen) derives from plague (kuga), which is perhaps why most have been so good at keeping their distance from each other.

© STA, 2020