'It’s a time of new words and big questions'

On Reflection
Picture: Getty ImagesPicture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images

Isn’t it strange how our vocabulary has changed since the start of the year?

You may remember I was trying to make ‘teahydrated’ a word for 2020.

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In case you’ve forgotten (and who could blame you?) its meaning is that you are gasping for a cuppa, which I am, most of the time. But I don’t think it’s going to come anywhere close to an entry in the OED.

No, my predictions for the words we’re most likely to see included this year are ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’, ‘PPE’, ‘WFH’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘covidiot’, and word of the year, whether we like it or not, is probably going to be ‘coronavirus’ (boo, hiss).

I know it’s only May, and these things probably aren’t decided until November at least, but I think we can safely say that these words aren’t going anywhere soon.

Dare I mention the question of face masks? At the time of writing, Ms Merkel in Germany and Ms Sturgeon in Scotland are recommending their citizens wear face masks when they venture out, yet our leaders aren’t saying we have to. They have said the scientific evidence is weak, etc.

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But if it’s recommended for the Germans and Scots, why not the rest of us?

Before there’s a stampede to buy paper face masks - please stop. The NHS, carers and key workers need them more than us who are nipping out for groceries.

Perhaps naively, I assume if they are made mandatory for our use the Government will obtain a supply and make them readily available.

But just in case that doesn’t happen, I have decided to handcraft one.

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I am going to cut a rectangular piece of cotton from an old t-shirt, fold it, attach a couple of elastic bands, place it over my nose and mouth, and look like I might be about to commit a robbery (which I’m not, obviously).

Face masks are not a substitute for social distancing and good handwashing, but they are another line of defence against our invisible enemy, and soon to be word of the year, coronavirus.