Is it an apple? Is it a potato? No, it’s an earth apple!
We humans are linguistically inventive creatures. Whenever new circumstances arise, we create new phrases and expressions that describe and refer to the new reality around us. These newly coined words are called neologisms 1, they are inherit to every language, and one language in particular has been extremely productive lately.
According to the Leibniz-Institut für deutsche Sprache (IDS), Germans have come up with more than a thousand neologisms since the pandemic started. I find German compounds fascinating, so today I’m bringing you my favorite five pandemiebedingte Neologismen! 2
What happens to your social life when bars, clubs and restaurants have been closed for ages? You can meet a friend for an Abstandsbier and enjoy each other’s company from a safe distance. Too bad it’s too cold to actually enjoy being outside!
The Corona-Frisur is the stork nest that builds up on your head after months of not being able visit a hair professional. Your corona hairdo is an uncanny forest of tangled knots, split ends and uneven sides due to DIY-haircuts. You may even find some tumbleweed and mice up there.
We all know the type: blatantly refuses to wear a mask or wears it below the nose 3, relentlessly complains about the corona measures and basically is in dire need of revisiting 5th grade biology. If you bump into this guy, Maskentrottel is your word to go!
A Geisterspiel is a match in which the players perform the game without an audience in the stadium, and the game is broadcast for viewers at home. I’m not a fan of football, but imagining ghosts chasing a ball certainly makes me chuckle.
Hamsters are known for collecting and storing food in their large cheek pouches. This habit might be adorable in animals, but not so appreciated in humans. Hamsteritis (Hamster + itis 4) refers to the unhealthy tendency to panic-buy and stockpile unnecessary amounts of food and supplies in your household. A good example of Hamsteritis is the worldwide toilet paper shortage of March 2020.
Das war’s! Do you have a favorite neologism? If you liked this article, let me know and I might draw a second batch of pandemiebedingte Neologismen.
Stay safe, folks!
Tell someone you love them today, because life is short.
But tell them in German, because life is also terrifying.
This is the brain on multilingualism. We try to keep all our languages going, and the more we practice, the more they wrestle for space. The eternal question: how can we keep our languages in good shape while welcoming new ones? Should we just sit back and enjoy the learning process, while being cognizant of our neuroplasticity?
This lovely illustration is available as print, sticker and further stationery on the Expat Gone Foreign Store! ✨