Hoping for a vocabulary of positivity and optimism

The year 2020 will go down in the annals of history as a year that changed the world altogether. Not only the life of the people changed beyond imagination, but the vocabulary of everyday use also altered noticeably. Words which were earlier unheard of, lying buried in the pages of dictionary surfaced to become commonly used household terms. Many obscure technical terms moved from the jargon of professionals to the glossary of general public.

The world got a new collective vocabulary almost overnight on March 11, the day COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WTO. In 2020 pandemic turned the world topsy-turvy, overwhelmed the life and psyche of people all across the world and also dominated public conversation. Not surprisingly, two premier English dictionaries- Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com- have declared ‘pandemic’ the ‘word of the year 2020’ by. Prior to 2020 most of us were blissfully unaware of pandemic and the havoc it can cause. Of course, we knew about epidemics, but had to           look-up in the dictionary to understand that pandemic is an epidemic that spreads across countries and continents.

Another addition to common vocabulary this year is ‘lockdown’ about which most of us were absolutely clues-less. We came to know about lock-down only after the governments all across the globe started imposing restrictions on the movement of people and activities to prevent the spread of the disease. Talking about my own awareness, as a student of economics I was familiar with lock-out which is stoppage of work by the management during labour disputes but, frankly, I had no idea about lockdown. However, now everyone in the world is familiar with the term.

For reducing the risk of virus transmission, ‘new normal’ is the new reality of the pandemic ravaged world which has not only changed our life-style but also overwhelmed our conversation. Masks have made a dramatic entry into our wardrobe and also our glossary. ‘Social distancing’ implying keeping physical distance from one another is not only a new norm but also a part of our normal vocabulary. As the use of sanitizers zoomed this year, sanitizer has become a part of common man’s terminology which is akin to democratization of glossary. The words which were earlier the preserve of educated elite are now commonly being used by the masses.

The usage of the terms, ‘Covid’, ‘Covid19’, ‘Coronavirus’, and ‘Corona’ boomed in 2020.  According to global Language Monitor, an American-data-research company that tracks word use in English language all over the world, Covid is the top word of 2020. ‘Covid has the most citations ever recorded in the 21st century, where ‘Co’ stands for corona; ‘vi’ is for virus and ‘D’ for disease.  Another word ‘Coronavirus’, that was little used outside medical contexts until this year, rocketed from obscurity to ubiquity. ‘Contact tracing’, ‘herd immunity’, ‘quarantine’ are other scientific terms that have entered everyday language like never before and across the board.

The year 2020 has been a bleak year dominated by a glossary of heavy words. Let us hope the dawn of 2021 brings about a positive change in the world and along with that bring a vocabulary of  easy-breezy words that signifies positivity and optimism.

             (Published in Mompresso 25 December 2020)

28 Replies to “Hoping for a vocabulary of positivity and optimism”

    1. Thanks Pamela.With positive news on vaccination front, we can definitely hope for positive change in the world and also in our terminology.

  1. Wonderful expression and analysis.
    While cheering up one of my Corona suffering friends; I texted ‘ You got to be a fighter… so be bold and remain positive.’ Just a little later, I realised the implication of the term and added the correction saying ‘ I mean positive minded and not corona positive.’

    1. You pen down simple day to day observations in a fantastic manner. Wishing happy new year for all and more constructive days in 2021.

      1. Thank you so much Madhuri. Indeed encouraging…
        Yes ,let hope and pray 2021 brings a positive change in the world .

    2. Thanks kamini for the wonderful comment. ha.. ha.. A different connotation of positive in Covid times !

    1. Just love the way you pen down everything ma’am . You are and will be an inspiration . Hope 2021 brings lot of good fortune and good health to all of us .

  2. Very well elaborated meaning of words most commonly used during Covid. U r right in a way in saying that these terms were very sparingly used earlier. Many ppl were not even aware of these terms.

  3. Very true Ma’am that these words have become part of our daily conversations. We will hopefully soon have the words of positivity .

  4. Thanks Rama for sending this beautiful article…. a middle. Since I don’t get this newspaper I was unawarre of your write up. I have been going through your articles right from the beginning. You have beautiful expression as well as good command over language giving a positive message for the year 2021. I hope this message through choicest words brings cheer and hope to the grieving minds.

    1. Thank you so much Mrs Dhamija. I am so happy not only you read but also left such a lovely comment. Your words are so motivating…

  5. Thanks Preeti. …Humbling
    Towards the year end when various dictionaries came out with ‘the word of year’, I reflected over the vocabulary of 2020 and that became a trigger to write this piece.

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