Volume 29, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-9971
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9994
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What happens when terms are used, translated and coined under the pressure of a global pandemic? By analyzing corpora from the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission (EC), Spain and France, as well as Spanish and French press, this corpus-based study aims to identify the extent to which the WHO influenced and contributed to the standardization of COVID-19-related terminology in French and Spanish during the pandemic.

Publicly available speeches from January 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 delivered by these four institutional leaders were compiled and analyzed using corpus linguistics techniques. Use frequencies in the media provide contrasting data on term use in selected French and Spanish newspapers.

Results indicate that terminological variation was less pronounced for more established terminology and more widespread for terms coined during COVID-19. Furthermore, in some cases the analyzed supranational and national institutions and the press failed to adopt standardized WHO terminology. The study concludes that national institutions and the press did not rise to their potential as agents for the standardization and harmonization of WHO’s COVID-19-related terminology.


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