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Coronavirus is wrecking the English language
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Mar 24

To social distance - yes, a verb!

Example: not enough people are social distancing.

Horrors like this are side-effects of Covid 19. One more reason to hope that a cure may be found soon. Which may hopefully also include a cure for the wrecked English language.


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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 04:17
Member (2016)
English to German
Noun to verb Mar 24

I always thought in English every noun could be verbed, and after being coronavirused for a while, you won't feel it any longer.

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 09:17
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
American English Mar 24

In Reddit, Americans say social distancing is not clear. They expect more concrete expression such as personal isolation, physical separation against epidemics.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Noun Mar 24

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

In Reddit, Americans say social distancing is not clear. They expect more concrete expression such as personal isolation, physical separation against epidemics.


"social distancing" as a noun seems OK but "I am social distancing" (as a verb) is horrible. What's wrong with "keeping a distance"?

[Edited at 2020-03-24 09:17 GMT]


Sarah Lewis-Morgan
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:17
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Different concept. Mar 24

Tom in London wrote:

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

In Reddit, Americans say social distancing is not clear. They expect more concrete expression such as personal isolation, physical separation against epidemics.


"social distancing" as a noun seems OK but "I am social distancing" (as a verb) is horrible. What's wrong with "keeping a distance"?

[Edited at 2020-03-24 09:17 GMT]


This is a concept broader than simply keeping a distance, that's why the term you suggested doesn't fit. Keeping a distance only applies to physical distance while "social distancing" in the context of the current situation involves much more such as avoiding spending too much time outside, completing your errands in shortest time possible etc, "keeping a distance" is just one part of it. If a term is functional, it doesn't matter if it is not liked by certain individuals on a subjective level. New concept/new situation, new term coined, it happens all the time.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:17
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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@Tom Mar 24

Tom in London wrote:
Example: not enough people are social distancing.
Example: please tell your friends to social distance.


I agree that this is bad English, but at the same time it is to be expected. No-one has the energy to say "please tell your friends to apply social distancing" or "not enough people are adhering to social distancing".

Tom in London wrote:
What's wrong with "keeping a distance"?


"Social distancing" only means "keeping a distance" figuratively. While social distancing does include keeping a distance, it also includes avoiding situations or reducing activities that involve in-person social contact or personal proximity. Ideally, a translator (or an author) would decide what is truly meant in his text, and apply a phrasing that communicates that meaning most clearly, but cognitive laziness rears its head.


[Edited at 2020-03-24 10:12 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Nothing wrong with it as a noun. Mar 24

(as I previously said)

"Social distancing" as a noun is perfectly acceptable. But "to social distance" as a verb is horrible.

Example: "please tell your friends to social distance".

Ugh


Thomas T. Frost
Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph wanted to button down the hatches two days ago Mar 24

Annotation 2020-03-24 104536
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2020/03/21/britain-will-want-get-back-business-soon-possible/

That sort of horror predates the coronavirus at the Telegraph. They occasionally write about aeroplanes stored in hangers, for example, not to mention 'expense of land' and 'tow the line'.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, but we need the former most for the time being.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Smiling Mar 24

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry


...or smile. Thank you Thomas. You have just reminded me of a comment made by a professor whose English wasn't perfect. He was talking about the behaviour of someone who was acting out of self-interest: "Oh, but he has a cross to grind".


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
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Social distancing Mar 24



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matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:17
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
@Tom Mar 24

Sorry Tom, but at this moment in time and moving forward, if the new term impacts the situation, you'll just have to live with it!
(-;


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
That's another one... Mar 24

matt robinson wrote:

if the new term impacts the situation.



I also detest "to impact" as a verb. It has a terrible impact on my blood pressure. But I know you're trying to provoke me.

[Edited at 2020-03-24 10:59 GMT]


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Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:17
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Maybe. Mar 24

Maybe he's trying to blood pressure you (a verb).

I used to annoy my friends as I would create a verb out of almost any noun (in my native language). The funny thing they would start using my verb after a while, depending on context. Verbs carry actions, they carry more life than nouns. Nouns are static, they are boring.

Please watch your health Tom and don't forum too much if it affects your wellbeing!


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Fatine777
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
OK but Mar 24

OK but watch your commas.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:17
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Actually. Mar 24

Tom in London wrote:

OK but watch your commas.


I though you were going to call me on the exclamation mark at the end of my post asking me why I am shouting.


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