The pandemic has transformed lives and livelihoods. But it’s changed the little details, too – like the language we use—peppering our everyday speech with scientific terms like “social distancing,” “superspreader” and “asymptomatic.”






Read or Listen:



  • to pepper  – if you pepper a speech or piece of writing with something, you include a lot of that particular thing


American Dialect Society Selected “Covid” as 2020 Word of the Year. Below are some other word nominations. Guess their meaning:

1. doomscrolling

2. bubble/pod

3. PPE

4. oysgezoomt

5. Coronials

6. the rona

7. moronavirus

8. covidiot

a) the coronavirus generation, for the predicted baby boom in the wake of the pandemic

b) a person who foolishly ignores COVID-19 protocols

c) the group with which one remains in quarantine

d) mindlessly scrolling through negative news articles; reading one negative story after another

e) playful term for “coronavirus”

f) personal protective equipment

g) disparaging term for foolish behavior or ideas related to the coronavirus pandemic

h) fatigued or bored by Zoom

ANSWERS: 5a; 8b; 2c; 1d; 6e; 3f; 7g; 4h 

Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the gaps below with articles: a, an, the or  “–“  (nothing).

You can check your answers here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMUv6UWkuWw

Go ahead, make up new words!

My job as 1. ….. lexicographer is to try to put all the words possible into the dictionary. My job is not to decide what 2. …… word is; that is your job.(…) Sometimes when people are trying to decide whether 3. …… word is good or bad, they don’t really have 4. …… good reason. So they say “because 5. …… grammar!”  (…) There’s 6. ….. kind of grammar that lives inside your brain, and if you’re 7. ….. native speaker of 8. …. language (…), it’s 9. ……. unconscious rules that you follow when you speak that language. (…) These kinds of natural rules that exist in your brain, they are not like 10. ……. traffic laws, they are more like laws of nature. And nobody has to remind you to obey 11. ….. law of nature, right? When you leave 12. ….. house in 13. …. morning, your mum doesn’t say, “Hey, honey, (…) don’t forget to obey 14. ….  law of gravity.” (…) Why should you make words? You should make words because every word is 15. ….. chance to express your idea and get your meaning across. And new words grab people’s attention.



ANSWERS:1. a; 2. a; 3. a; 4. a; 5. -; 6. the; 7. a; 8. a; 9. the; 10. -; 11. a; 12. the; 1. the; 14. the; 15. a




  1. Have you recently heard any new word(s) in your language? Did you like it/them?
  2. Have you ever created a new word?
  3. What do you think about the language used by teenagers?
  4. How does it make you feel when somebody makes mistakes in your native language? Do you mind?
  5. Do you think texting is killing language?
  6. Do you think your own language is difficult to learn? Would you be able to teach it to somebody?



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Where do new words come from?

There are over 170,000 words currently in use in the English language. Yet every year, about a thousand new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Where do they come from, and how do they make it into our everyday lives? Marcel Danesi explains how new words enter a language.