Volume 7, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN 2032-6904
  • E-ISSN: 2032-6912
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The COVID-19 pandemic situation developed very quickly, driving an urgent and global need to communicate public health information that left relatively little time for traditional and formal language planning activities. This article investigates and compares French-language COVID-19-related terms appearing in linguistic resources developed in Canada and Europe to determine whether this terminology appears to be international or localized. Findings reveal that regional variation exists and that one contributing factor is that de-terminologization is being accelerated by the popular media. Another key factor leading to linguistic differences is the language situation (i.e., majority vs minority situation). Overall, while there is considerable overlap in the terminology used in the two resources, there are enough differences to warrant underlining the importance of localizing terminological content in a situation such as a pandemic in order to ensure that communication of critical information is as effective as possible.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Académie française
    Académie française 2020, May7. “Le covid 19 ou la covid 19.” Available at: www.academie-francaise.fr/le-covid-19-ou-la-covid-19
  2. Authier, Philip
    2019, October8. “Bill 21: Legault lashes out at Trudeau over debate comments.” Montreal Gazette. Available at: https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/bill-21-legault-lashes-out-at-trudeau-over-debate-comments
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Avanzi, Mathieu
    2020, May17. “Le/la Covid ? Réouvrir ou rouvrir ? Les leçons de grammaire du coronavirus.” The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/le-la-covid-reouvrir-ou-rouvrir-les-lecons-de-grammaire-du-coronavirus-138633
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bill 21
    Bill 21 2019, March28. An Act respecting the laicity of the State. Available at: m.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-21-42-1.html
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bouffard, Paula and Philippe Caignon
    2006 “Localisation et variation linguistique. Vers une géolinguistique de l’espace virtuel francophone.” Meta51(4): 806–823. 10.7202/014344ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/014344ar [Google Scholar]
  6. Bowker, Lynne , and Jennifer Pearson
    2002Working with Specialized Language: A Practical Guide to Using Corpora. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203469255
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203469255 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cabré, M. Teresa
    1999Terminology: Theory, methods and applications. Translated by Janet Ann De Cesaris . Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tlrp.1
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tlrp.1 [Google Scholar]
  8. Chan, Nelida
    2015 “Language policies and terminology policies in Canada.” InHandbook of Terminology, edited by Hendrik J. Kockaert and Frieda Steurs , 489–504. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hot.1.24lan2
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hot.1.24lan2 [Google Scholar]
  9. Donanda, Emma
    2020, March19. “Doit-on dire ‘le’ ou ‘la’ Covid-19?” Libération. Available at: https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2020/03/19/doit-on-dire-le-ou-la-covid-19_1782334
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Gorbalenya, Alexander E. , Susan C. Baker , Ralph S. Baric , Raoul J. de Groot , Christian Drosten , Anastasia A. Gulyaeva , Bart L. Haagmans , Chris Lauber , Andrey M. Leontovich , Benjamin W. Neuman , Dmitry Penzar , Stanley Perlman , Leo L. M. Poon , Dmitry V. Samborskiy , Igor A. Sidorov , Isabel Sola , and John Ziebuhr
    2020 “The species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus: classifying 2019-nCoV and naming it SARS-CoV-2.” Nature Microbiology5: 536–544. 10.1038/s41564‑020‑0695‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-0695-z [Google Scholar]
  11. Government of Canada
    Government of Canada 2020 “COVID Alert App.” Government of Canada website. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html
  12. Nantel, Jacques , and Evelyne Glaser
    2008 “The impact of language and culture on perceived website usability.” Journal of Engineering and Technology Management25: 112–122. 10.1016/j.jengtecman.2008.01.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jengtecman.2008.01.005 [Google Scholar]
  13. Jiménez-Crespo, Miguel A.
    2013Translation and Web Localization. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203520208
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203520208 [Google Scholar]
  14. Kupferschmidt, Kai
    2015, May11. “Discovered a disease? WHO has new rules for avoiding offensive names.” Science. Available at: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/05/discovered-disease-who-has-new-rules-avoiding-offensive-names
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Labelle, Mélanie
    2020 “Terminology in Times of Crisis: Glossary on the COVID-19 pandemic.” Online presentation given at theInternational Translation Day Celebrations at the School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa, Canada. October 1, 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Lee, Bruce Y.
    2020 “Trump once again calls Covid-19 coronavirus the ‘kung flu’.” Forbes. AccessedJune 24, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/06/24/trump-once-again-calls-covid-19-coronavirus-the-kung-flu/#7f7bf8651f59
    [Google Scholar]
  17. LOI n° 2010–1192 du 11 octobre 2010 interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public (1)
    LOI n° 2010–1192 du 11 octobre 2010 interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public (1). Available at: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/id/JORFTEXT000022911670/
  18. Louw, Bill
    1993 “Irony in the text or insincerity in the writer? The diagnostic potential of semantic prosodies,” InText and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair, edited by Mona Baker , Gill Francis , and Elena Tognini-Bonelli , 157–176. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/z.64.11lou
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.64.11lou [Google Scholar]
  19. McCulloch, Gretchen
    2020, May31. “Covid-19 is history’s biggest translation challenge.” WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/story/covid-language-translation-problem/
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Meyer, Ingrid and Mackintosh, Kristen
    2000a “When terms move into our everyday lives: An overview of de-terminologization.” Terminology6(1): 111–138. 10.1075/term.6.1.07mey
    https://doi.org/10.1075/term.6.1.07mey [Google Scholar]
  21. 2000b “‘L’étirement’ du sens terminologique : Aperçu du phénomène de la déterminologisation.” InLe sens en terminologie, edited by Henri Béjoint and Philippe Thoiron , 198–217. Lyon: Presses universitaires de Lyon.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Montgomery, Scott L.
    2013Does science need a global language? English and the future of research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226010045.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226010045.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  23. Montpetit, Caroline
    2020, May29. “Covid est un mot à double genre.” Le Devoir. Available at: https://www.ledevoir.com/culture/579840/langue-francaise-covid-est-un-mot-a-double-genre
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Partington, Alan
    2004 “‘Utterly content in each other’s company’: Semantic prosody and semantic preference.” International Journal of Corpus Linguistics9(1): 131–156. 10.1075/ijcl.9.1.07par
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.9.1.07par [Google Scholar]
  25. 1998Patterns and Meanings: Using corpora for English language research and teaching. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.2
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.2 [Google Scholar]
  26. Quirion, Jean
    2003 “La formation en localisation à l’université : pour quoi faire ?” Meta48(4): 546–558. 10.7202/008725ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/008725ar [Google Scholar]
  27. Quirion, Jean , and Jacynthe Lanthier
    2006 “Intrinsic Qualities Favouring Term Implantation: Verifying the Axioms.” InLexicography, Terminology, and Translation: Text-based Studies in Honour of Ingrid Meyer, edited by Lynne Bowker , 107–118. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. 10.2307/j.ctt1ckpgs3.11
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1ckpgs3.11 [Google Scholar]
  28. Radio-Canada
    Radio-Canada 2020, March10. “COVID-19 est un terme féminin, et voici pourquoi on vous a dit le contraire.” Available at: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1657532/covid-linguistique-virus-epidemie-wuhan-usage
  29. Ropert, Pierre
    2020, April8. “Doit-on dire ‘le’ ou ‘la’ Covid-19 ?” France Culture. Available at: https://www.franceculture.fr/sciences-du-langage/doit-dire-le-ou-la-covid-19
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Sager, Juan C.
    1997 “Term Formation.” InHandbook of Terminology Management, edited by Sue Ellen Wright and Gerhard Budin , 25–41. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/z.htm1.06sag
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.htm1.06sag [Google Scholar]
  31. 1990A Practical Course in Terminology Processing. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/z.44
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.44 [Google Scholar]
  32. Schäler, Reinhard
    2010 “Localization and Translation.” InHandbook of Translation Studies, Vol.1, edited by Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer , 209–214. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hts.1.loc1
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hts.1.loc1 [Google Scholar]
  33. Stefaniak, Karolina
    2017 “Terminology work in the European Commission: Ensuring high-quality translation in a multilingual environment.” InQuality aspects in institutional translation, edited by Tomáš Svoboda , Łucja Biel & Krzysztof Łoboda , 109–121. Berlin: Language Science Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Summers, Della
    1993 “Longman/Lancaster English Language Corpus Criteria and Design.” International Journal of Lexicography6(3): 181–208. 10.1093/ijl/6.3.181
    https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/6.3.181 [Google Scholar]
  35. Tam, Theresa ( @CPHO_Canada
    ) 2020, March25. “Physical Distancing is the new Social Distancing.” Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/CPHO_Canada/status/1242916980186927110
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Translation Bureau
    Translation Bureau 2020Glossary on the COVID-19 pandemic. Government of Canada. Available at: https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/publications/covid19-eng.html (accessedOctober 1, 2020).
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union
    Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union 2020 COVID-19 multilingual terminology available in IATE. Available at: https://cdt.europa.eu/en/news/covid-19-multilingual-terminology-available-iate (accessedOctober 1, 2020).
  38. Translators Without Borders (TWB)
    Translators Without Borders (TWB) 2020, June8. “Stay away from me. TWB creates COVID-19 glossary of 186 terms in 33 languages.” Translators Without Borders website. Available at: https://translatorswithoutborders.org/twb-creates-covid-19-glossary/
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Vazquez, Maegan , and Betsy Klein
    2020 “Trump Defends Use of the Term ‘China Virus’.” CNN. AccessedJune 26, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/17/politics/trump-china-coronavirus/index.html
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Vinay, Jean-Paul , and Darbelnet, Jean
    1958Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais : méthode de traduction. Paris: Didier.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. World Health Organization
    World Health Organization 2020 “Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Situation Report 10.” AccessedJune 26, 2020. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200130-sitrep-10-ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=d0b2e480_2
  42. World Health Organization
    World Health Organization 2015 “World Health Organization Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases.” AccessedJune 27, 2020. apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/163636/1/WHO_HSE_FOS_15.1_eng.pdf?ua=1
  43. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
    World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 2020, September22. “WIPO Pearl Adds COVID-19 Terminology to Help Stimulate Innovation to Fight Pandemic; Will be Provided Free for Download and Use by Third Parties.” WIPO website. Available at: https://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2020/article_0021.html
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Wray, Meaghan
    2020 “Stabbing Attack on Asian Family Deemed Coronavirus Hate Crime.” Global News. AccessedJune 27, 2020. https://globalnews.ca/news/6769462/asian-family-attacked-coronavirus-hate-crime/
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Zhang, Sarah
    2020 “A Virus with a Deadly Boring Name.” The Atlantic. AccessedJune 27, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/01/the-virus-that-still-has-no-name/605893/
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Grand dictionnaire terminologique (GDT)
    Grand dictionnaire terminologique (GDT): gdt.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/
  47. Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (IATE)
    Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (IATE): https://iate.europa.eu/
  48. Le Robert Dico en ligne
    Le Robert Dico en ligne: https://dictionnaire.lerobert.com/
  49. TERMIUM Plus

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error