Friday, 20 November 2020 06:28

The Proliferation of Covid-19 English Neologisms on Digital Media in Kenya

Written by A. Manyasi1* and J. Khaemba2
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A. Manyasi1* and J. Khaemba2

Egerton University Box 436 Egerton, Kenya

Tel: +254722636853, + 254722265757

*Corresponding Author: anne.manyasi@gmail,com


The current global pandemic has not only changed the lives of people globally but also caused language change. Seemingly, there is a parallel language contagion to the pandemic given that some dictionaries have already made unscheduled updates in response to coronavirus-related vocabulary. Since previous research has reported pandemics and epidemics to have given rise to certain neologisms, the study aimed at exploring neologisms related to COVID-19 using data from digital platforms in Kenya. It focused on identification of neologisms and their meaning, word-formation processes as well as the word classes of neologisms related to the pandemic. It is a qualitative study that uses observation and field notes. The study is informed by Pavol Štekauer’s (1996, 1998, 2001b) theory of onomasiology which states that name giving is governed by the needs of language users and any act of naming an object is based on its reflection and processing in human consciousness. Data from the study was coded then presented using tables and discussions. The study provides a synchronic account of COVID-19 neologisms and is useful to linguists and scholars of language change. The findings reveal that the contagion has seen an emergence of new English words, phrases, acronyms and abbreviations in day to day language, with a majority springing from previous pandemics. The new words are chiefly nouns and adjectives and are of medical background.   This paper, therefore, argues that there are multiple neologisms that are currently in use as a result of the coronavirus pandemic or ‘the new normal.’  

Key Words: neologism, coronavirus, COVID-19, contagion, language change


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