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大疫中的新词义与新词汇
公司名称:99手机版免费视频在线观看 发布时间:2020/4/20 11:25:45

In Pandemic Word Definitions Shift and New Lexicon Emerges

Matt Sedensky 马特·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.

新闻节目中蹦出“热点地区”“封锁”等词语。交谈中充斥着“检疫隔离”“隔离”等字眼。领导人们力劝“拉开社交距离”“就地防护”和“拉平曲线”。

一转眼,我们的词汇表就这样改变了,一如其他的一切。

现在,那些查阅网络词典的人们正在分辨流行病与大流行病、呼吸机和人工呼吸器的区别,面对无常世事力求找到一些黑白分明的答案。

词典网站的高级研究编辑约翰·凯利说:“字字千钧。它们于混乱中带来慰藉和秩序,在社交疏离的时代给予相互支持。”

且看新冠肺炎大流行病期间快速演变的用词:

战争比喻

特朗普现在自诩为领导抗击病毒的“战时总统”。纽约州州长安德鲁·科莫将呼吸机等同于战斗中的“导弹”。法国总统埃马纽埃尔·马克龙曾直言不讳地宣称:“我们在打仗。”

环顾全世界,那些通常用在核辐射、行凶枪手、致命风暴和战争上的词语现在正被拿来谈论疾病。

华盛顿大学(圣路易斯)的语言学家约翰·鲍说,医生们迫不及待地想用他们认为能体现问题严重性的比喻来撼动公众引起注意。政客们可能意欲达到同样的目的——或者可能想借题发挥。

定义改变

病毒肆虐中国时,旁观者看到疫情中心武汉实行了“封锁”。而随着新冠肺炎向西蔓延,这类用语的含义发生了变化,领导人给灾难术语下的定义与公众对它们的理解一样千差万别。

科莫上周在新罗谢尔设立了一个“封堵区域”。这个词让人联想到大规模隔离的画面,而其实商家依然营业,人们仍然进出自由。

随后,科莫和纽约市长白思豪就美国最大城市会不会实行更严格的限制措施传递了不同的信息,市长敦促居民准备“就地防护”,州长则批评这一想法和措辞。科莫把“就地防护”斥之为原子时代的遗物。

哥伦比亚大学备灾和公共卫生问题专家欧文·雷德莱纳说:“大家的用词虽然不同,但基本上是可以换用的。”他说,术语拉锯战与各州和地方政府所采取的措施五花八门如出一辙。

病毒词汇

每当科学家抛出“发病率”“死亡率”混在一起的声明,每当政府官员警告“无症状”的人一样很危险,每当新闻发布会上充斥着“载体”和“传播”这样的字眼,凯瑟琳·霍尔·贾米森就会尴尬不安。

这位宾夕法尼亚大学的传播学专家说:“这些词对很多公众来说是无法理解的。”

她说:“公共卫生官员应当把他们的技术用语翻译成可以听得懂的语言。”

这意味着要用“没有症状”取代“无症状”,用“扩散”等简单动词而不是“传播”,用“洗手”这个一目了然的词而不是“卫生”。

但霍尔·贾米森惊讶地发现,安东尼·福奇博士和其他人已经想方设法让公众理解了一个复杂的医学概念,他们用的是“拉平曲线”一词,常常伴以手势给予视觉提示。

许多人认为,“拉开社交距离”是大流行病时代迄今为止新添的一个最重要词语——这个简单易懂的用词有助于向成百上千万人传递一个信息:为了避免传播病毒,他们需要待在一个安全的位置。(涂颀译自美联社3月20日文章)

本文转载自《参考消息》



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