The "Ellenbogengruß" - German corona vocab

by Barbara Classen

How the pandemic changes the way we speak (German)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic  approximately 200 new coronabedingte words have been collected in order to be "under observation" by the Leibnitz Institut für Deutsche Sprache. Strict criteria will apply when it comes to whether or not they actually enter the Duden, the official German dictionary. Let's start: Coronabedingt is an adverb and means "due to corona". Coronabedingt is very useful, you can use it in nearly any sentence at the moment: Coronabedingt dürfen die Kinder im Moment nicht in die Schule. Coronabedingt haben viele Menschen jetzt eine Coronafrisur (f);  hairdressers reopened in Germany two weeks ago, but remain closed in the UK and other parts of the world.

Germans are by nature not very good at queueing and the Abstandslinie (f) ensures that we keep at a distance of 2 meters. Balkonkonzerte (n, here plural) were very popular recently to break the isolation and to celebrate the heroes and heroines of the pandemic. The Ellenbogengruß (m) has replaced dangerous handshaking, hugging and kissing. Mundschutzmode (f) refers to the fact that we see many pretty patterned masks around. The Wohnzimmer-Work-Out (n) has replaced gym visits and many of us have met friends at virtuellen Dinnern.(n, here dativ plural).

The term Maskenflickenteppich (m, literal translation: patch work rug of mask wearing) is not quite as self-explanatory as the other words. It needs to be explained in the context of Germany's federal state, the Bundesländer, each of them regulating the COVID-19 crisis very differently. For instance, Thüringen considers ending compulsory mask wearing in shops as early as 6 June while Baden-Würtemberg has no official end date yet.

A lot of us will zoomen for many months to come, but we are already  more than familiar with the concept of Zoomfatigue (d). The last example shows that many of the concepts work in English too. In fact we use more anglicisms than before. A lot of parents struggle between doing homeoffice and supervising homeschooling, the latter has no German corresponding word, possibly because the concept was illegal in Germany prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. And finally, there is a lot of speculation, but no one really knows to what extent our world will have changed once we have reached the Post-Corona-Zeit (f). 

If you have found my article interesting why not have a look at the complete list of words.

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