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Mindestabstandsregelung Is a Thing in Germany

Term refers to social distancing, one of 1,200 new COVID words coined in the nation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2021 8:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The pandemic is changing not only our behavior but our language. The Conversation ticks off familiar examples including "quarantini," "covidiot," doomscrolling," and "zoombombing," while the Cleveland Clinic offers help dealing with "maskne," or mask-related acne. The Economist has a guide to new global slang, including "hamsteren," a Dutch reference to stuffing food in one's cheeks like a hamster that has turned into shorthand for panic buying. And on and on. But as the Washington Post reports, no nation has seen a linguistic influx as much as Germany, where more than 1,200 COVID-related words have been coined over the past year. German lends itself to long, compound words, explains the Post, leading to some real tongue-twisters. For example:

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  • Mindestabstandsregelung: minimum-distance regulation
  • Anderthalbmeter­gesellschaft: one-and-a-half-meter society
  • Mundschutzmode: mouth protection fashion
  • Gesicht­s­kondom: face condom, aka mask
  • Glühweinstandhopping: hopping between mulled-wine stands
"I can't think of anything, at least since the Second World War, that would have changed the vocabulary as drastically, and at the same time as quickly, as the corona pandemic," a linguistics professor at the Free University of Berlin tells the Post. Canada's CTV also takes note of the trend, with a linguistics professor at Western University in Ontario asserting that it isn't frivolous. The new coinages reflect a shared experience and help people cope with what he calls the "new normal." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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