Effects of COVID on Language

December 22, 2021

As we wrap up 2021, we thought we would do a brief round-up of some of the effects the pandemic has had on language research, so that you don’t have to! Linguistic studies continue apace as the pandemic wears on and on.

  • The jury is still out on the impact that mask wearing had had on young children’s language development. At four months babies focus on the eyes of the speaker while by 8 months the focus shifts to the mouth. Many researchers believe that the normal face time babies have with parents should overcome any negative effects.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary word of 2021 is vax. This is not surprising of course. Medical terms that were previously obscure have brought into every day vocabulary. Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is vaccine. Time moves at a glacial pace in the dictionary industry. Merriam-Webster decided to do something it had never done before, much like the speedy development of the vaccine, they released a pandemic update in 34 days.
  • The very scholarly Degruyter says that the task of making crucial information available to all is urgent. Translation plays a vital role in crisis communication – particularly in a global crisis. A negative side effect is the potential risk of the spread of misinformation. (Degruyter Mouton, March 11, 2021)  



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