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大疫中的新詞義與新詞匯
公司名稱:聯合水務有限公司 發布時間:2020/4/20 11:25:45

In Pandemic, Word Definitions Shift and New Lexicon Emerges

Matt Sedensky 馬特·塞登斯基

Newscasts bring word of “hot zones” and “lockdowns.” Conversations are littered with talk of “quarantines” and “isolation.” Leaders urge “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” and “flattening the curve.”

In an instant, our vocabulary has changed - just like everything else.

Now, those turning to online dictionaries are parsing the difference between epidemics and pandemics, ventilators and respirators, seeking some black-and-white answers in the face of total uncertainty.

“Words matter,” says John Kelly, a senior research editor at Dictionary.com. “They provide comfort and order amid chaos. They provide solidarity in an age of social distancing.”

A look at the fast-evolving lexicon of the coronavirus pandemic:

WARTIME METAPHORS

Trump is now touting himself as “a wartime president” leading the fight against the virus. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is equating ventilators to “missiles” in the battle. French President Emmanuel Macron has bluntly declared: “We are at war.”

Around the world, words typically used in relation to nuclear fallout, active shooters, deadly storms and war are now being deployed to discuss disease.

John Baugh, a linguist at Washington University in St. Louis, says doctors are desperate to shake the public to attention, using metaphors they think can convey the seriousness of the problem. Politicians may be doing the same - or may be trying to capitalize on catastrophe.

SHIFTING DEFINITIONS

As the virus gripped China, onlookers saw a “lockdown” at the outbreak's epicenter of Wuhan. As COVID-19 moved west,though, the meaning of such terms has morphed, and leaders' definitions of disaster jargon has been as varied as the public's interpretations.

Cuomo created a “containment zone” in New Rochelle last week. The phrase conjured images of mass quarantine even as businesses remained open and people were free to come and go.

Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have subsequently aired different messages on the possibility of more severe restrictions in the biggest American city, with the mayor urging residents to prepare to “shelter in place” and the governor criticizing the idea and the language. Cuomo has dismissed “shelter in place” as a relic of the Atomic Age.

“People are using different terms somewhat interchangeably,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, an expert on disaster preparedness and public health at Columbia University. The tug-of-war over terminology echoes the patchwork of measures that state and local governments have taken, he said.

VIRUS VOCABULARY

Kathleen Hall Jamieson cringes when scientists toss out statements of “morbidity” and “mortality” in the same breath, when public officials warn of “asymptomatic” people posing a threat, and when news conferences are peppered with words like “vector” and “transmission.”

“They are incomprehensible to many in the public,” said the University of Pennsylvania communications expert.

“Public health officials,” she said, “need to translate their technical language into intelligible language.”

That means saying something like “not showing any symptoms” instead of “asymptomatic,” using simple verbs like “spread” versus “transmit,” and opting for the clarity of “hand-washing” over “hygiene.”

But Hall Jamieson marvels at how Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have managed to get the public to grasp a complicated medical concept with the phrase “flattening the curve,” often accompanied by visual hand cues.

And many see “social distancing” to be the greatest pandemic-era addition to the vernacular yet - easily understood phrasing that's helped communicate to millions that they need to keep a safe berth to avoid spreading the virus.

新聞節目中蹦出“熱點地區”“封鎖”等詞語。交談中充斥著“檢疫隔離”“隔離”等字眼。領導人們力勸“拉開社交距離”“就地防護”和“拉平曲線”。

一轉眼,我們的詞匯表就這樣改變了,一如其他的一切。

現在,那些查閱網絡詞典的人們正在分辨流行病與大流行病、呼吸機和人工呼吸器的區別,面對無常世事力求找到一些黑白分明的答案。

詞典網站的高級研究編輯約翰·凱利說:“字字千鈞。它們于混亂中帶來慰藉和秩序,在社交疏離的時代給予相互支持!

且看新冠肺炎大流行病期間快速演變的用詞:

戰爭比喻

特朗普現在自詡為領導抗擊病毒的“戰時總統”。紐約州州長安德魯·科莫將呼吸機等同于戰斗中的“導彈”。法國總統埃馬紐埃爾·馬克龍曾直言不諱地宣稱:“我們在打仗!

環顧全世界,那些通常用在核輻射、行兇槍手、致命風暴和戰爭上的詞語現在正被拿來談論疾病。

華盛頓大學(圣路易斯)的語言學家約翰·鮑說,醫生們迫不及待地想用他們認為能體現問題嚴重性的比喻來撼動公眾引起注意。政客們可能意欲達到同樣的目的——或者可能想借題發揮。

定義改變

病毒肆虐中國時,旁觀者看到疫情中心武漢實行了“封鎖”。而隨著新冠肺炎向西蔓延,這類用語的含義發生了變化,領導人給災難術語下的定義與公眾對它們的理解一樣千差萬別。

科莫上周在新羅謝爾設立了一個“封堵區域”。這個詞讓人聯想到大規模隔離的畫面,而其實商家依然營業,人們仍然進出自由。

隨后,科莫和紐約市長白思豪就美國最大城市會不會實行更嚴格的限制措施傳遞了不同的信息,市長敦促居民準備“就地防護”,州長則批評這一想法和措辭?颇选熬偷胤雷o”斥之為原子時代的遺物。

哥倫比亞大學備災和公共衛生問題專家歐文·雷德萊納說:“大家的用詞雖然不同,但基本上是可以換用的!彼f,術語拉鋸戰與各州和地方政府所采取的措施五花八門如出一轍。

病毒詞匯

每當科學家拋出“發病率”“死亡率”混在一起的聲明,每當政府官員警告“無癥狀”的人一樣很危險,每當新聞發布會上充斥著“載體”和“傳播”這樣的字眼,凱瑟琳·霍爾·賈米森就會尷尬不安。

這位賓夕法尼亞大學的傳播學專家說:“這些詞對很多公眾來說是無法理解的!

她說:“公共衛生官員應當把他們的技術用語翻譯成可以聽得懂的語言!

這意味著要用“沒有癥狀”取代“無癥狀”,用“擴散”等簡單動詞而不是“傳播”,用“洗手”這個一目了然的詞而不是“衛生”。

但霍爾·賈米森驚訝地發現,安東尼·福奇博士和其他人已經想方設法讓公眾理解了一個復雜的醫學概念,他們用的是“拉平曲線”一詞,常常伴以手勢給予視覺提示。

許多人認為,“拉開社交距離”是大流行病時代迄今為止新添的一個最重要詞語——這個簡單易懂的用詞有助于向成百上千萬人傳遞一個信息:為了避免傳播病毒,他們需要待在一個安全的位置。(涂頎譯自美聯社3月20日文章)

本文轉載自《參考消息》



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