Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Poll: Pandemic parlance repugnant

| February 16, 2021 1:00 AM

That we’re all sick of pandemic lingo isn’t exactly news, but sometimes a collective venting relieves a little stress. So here we go.

A 2021 online poll of 3,700 adults by communications site PRPioneer.com revealed “flattening the curve is the most detested pandemic-related phrase among Idahoans. We also apparently hate outbreak, second wave, bubble, and the once-innocuous unprecedented — rounding out the dubious honor of top five.

Other unpopular pandemic words included herd immunity, coronacation (boring vacation), and ‘Blursday’ (same as the day before).

Add my personal unfavorite: Quaranteam. Sounds too much like those kitschy, annoying business buzzwords.

To be fair, that’s the mixed blessing of a living language. When something big happens to a lot of us, we develop a vocabulary around it. New words and new uses for old words enter mainstream speech. Those who don’t keep up with these “neologisms” lag behind on the communications highway, but maybe not for long. Some historically added terms stick around, but others tend to fade with passing history.

Other sweeping events have added swaths of new phraseology to English, some not so long ago. Described by historian Dr. L. C. Douglas and reported in Time magazine, the 2008 Great Recession added:

Unbanked: Describing someone without a checking or savings account

Anti-dowry: Student loan debt holding a young person back from getting married or buying a house.

Groupon remorse: Regret after falling for a deal you don’t really need or want.

Financially fragile: If the worst happened and you couldn’t come up $2,000 in 30 days, you’re financially fragile. Research published in 2011 by the National Bureau of Economic Research found about half of Americans fit that description.

Light bulb anxiety: This fear, based on misunderstood legislation intended to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs, led to bulb hoarding and overstocking — mostly by businesses (now we should call it TP anxiety).

Squatter's rent: What a welching (or underemployed) homeowner or renter keeps back when they stop paying the mortgage or rent, estimated in tens of billions in 2020.

Looking farther back in time, World Wars I and II brought a host of new words and catchy phrases still in use. Look for those in Thursday’s column.

See the full pandemic word list at https://prpioneer.com/post/pandemic-related-phrases.

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who relies on Gen Z to keep her in modern parlance. Email Sholeh@cdapress.com.