The Coronavirus Corpus: Learn How Language is Changing During Covid-19

During Covid 19, we’ve all been using a new group of words to describe the pandemic and its impacts.

The Coronavirus Corpus is actively tracking and collating the language we use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Using the corpus, you can see how the English language is changing under the influence of a global pandemic.

It’s a huge database already. When it was released in May August 2020, it contained 512 million words. Its creators estimate that 3-4 million more have been added each day since.

Why Have We Created a New Language for Coronavirus?

During the pandemic, we’ve all had to adjust to new ways of life, and new ways of working.

A year ago, the average person on the street wouldn’t necessarily have known what PPE was. They also probably wouldn’t have heard of a local lockdown, headed out for a curbside test, or stockpiled toilet paper.

But the Oxford English Dictionary was updated in April to include new words and phrases like:

  • Self-isolation
  • Flatten the curve
  • Social distancing.

The OED also added shortened versions of coronavirus, including corona and covid.

Keywords about coronavirus completely consumed the top 20 keywords in March, pushing out terms like bushfire, airliner, and impeachment.

Rather like Brexit, coronavirus is changing the way we speak. But with Covid-19, the effect is global.

Graph from the OED, licensed under Fair Use

Search or Download the Coronavirus Corpus

The Coronavirus Corpus allows you to search for any term and see how its usage has changed during Covid-19.

You can also compare between time periods and countries to find out which words are spreading, and which are more localised.

Search or download the Coronavirus Corpus on the website now.

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