I was settling in to watch the first Formula 1 race of the year, the long-delayed Austrian Grand Prix, when Sky Sports’ commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said something about how he had a little “coronaspeck,” the new German word for that extra little belly fat that we all have because we’ve been sitting around so much. I’ve got some of that too. Shared experiences like the current pandemic always give rise to new words and expressions, and I think the Germans have outdone themselves with this word. The BBC website defines coronaspeck not as belly fat, but rather “stress eating amid stay-at-home orders.” I guess maybe it’s both the overeating and its resultant expanded waistline.
The BBC has listed several other words that have been invented recently. They refer to “the ubiquitous WHF,” which I’d never heard of (I think it’s “Working From Home,” probably a British usage or else I just missed it) and PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, which we say here in the U.S. They report that in Spanish there are two words that can refer to people who don’t wear masks, socially distance, and so forth: “covidiota” (a covidiot – it sounds better in Spanish) and “coronaburro” (comparing such a person to a burro, or donkey). We’re used to “zoombombing” (joining a Zoom video conference uninvited, especially with nefarious intentions), “doomscrolling” (incessantly reading bad news on the internet), and even one I’ve mentioned before without realizing it, “stay-at-home orders,” which is self-explanatory. Apparently, this term is not used worldwide; in Malaysia it’s “movement control order” and in the Philippines it’s “enhanced community quarantine.” I wonder if the Philippine government came up with that one. It doesn’t sound like something that the average person on the street would say.
So here we all are, trying to do social distancing, which isn’t social at all. It’s physical. In the process, we look at our computers too much, and now optometrists are getting worried that we’re going to have eye problems. The people who are really going to have a hard time are the ones who engage in “quaranstreaming,” or streaming videos for hours on end when they’re in quarantine. Or “quaz” as Australians say, short for quarantine. They use “sanny” a lot in Australia too; that’s sanitizer. If you’re quarantining, you can have a “quarantini” while you “quarantine and chill.” More than anything, you shouldn’t engage in “öffnungsdiskussionorgien,” the German word defined by the BBC as orgies of discussion related to reopening policies – literally “opening discussion orgy.”
As it happens, there’s no orgy of discussion here with my job at a small college in Iowa. We’ll be fully open for the fall semester. Our federal government in Washington has decided that all ESL programs have to have face-to-face instruction, so I’ll be putting on a mask and fogging up my glasses along with everyone else next month. I wonder if there’s a word for that?