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Word police in time of Coronavirus: avoid war vocabulary

When it comes to the corona virus, there is often talk of "fighting" the pathogen at the moment.

War vocabulary is used in many countries in connection with the Covid-19 pathogen. The presidents of France and the United States speak openly of "war" or "general mobilization". The top US health official compared the corona crisis to the worst attack on the United States in World War II and spoke of a "Pearl Harbor" moment. Nurses are said to work "on the frontline".

Two linguists at Lancaster University are now looking for linguistic alternatives to talk about the Corona virus. Their reasoning: War vocabulary can promote solidarity within a group, but it can also frighten people. There is also evidence from language research that war language is not helpful when it comes to persuading people not to do something - as in the case of exit restrictions, for example, not celebrating together.

Under the hashtag #ReframeCovid, the two researchers are looking for other linguistic images in all languages. An example from Denmark: There the queen described the pathogen as a "not welcome guest". Football vocabulary is apparently often used in Italy.

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