Research Article | | Peer-Reviewed

Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics

Received: 30 December 2023    Accepted: 22 January 2024    Published: 17 April 2024
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Healthcare, societal structures, the economy, education, and communication have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its impact extends to the various language aspects. This study aims to explore how the pandemic has influenced language use in communication, education, and technology, especially in Arabic language. The research investigates the semantic changes that occur in certain expressions due to the pandemic. Moreover, this study examines how translators navigate challenges when translating new English terms and expressions into Arabic using the Skopos Theory. Utilizing a qualitative approach, data were collected from various social and mass media sources. In conclusion, the research findings suggest the creation of new vocabulary and semantic shifts. Additionally, Arabic, like all languages, evolves in translation, leading translators to use various methods for accurate rendering of terms and expressions.

Published in International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation (Volume 10, Issue 1)
DOI 10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12
Page(s) 9-20
Creative Commons

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is properly cited.


Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Science Publishing Group


Sematic Shift, Skopos Theory, Coronavirus Pandemic, Translation, Communication, Technology, Education

1. Introduction
The novel Corona virus appeared in Wuhan - China in December 2019, and the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020 . Countries have established their precautionary programs to preserve the health of their citizens and residents on their lands, with a call to stay in homes to prevent the spread of the epidemic. Since the outbreak, the acceleration of the spread of this disease started in lifestyles. The epidemic has forced societies to take a series of procedures, since the spread of Corona virus which caused a global crisis and threatened human race with infection of millions and death of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, according to (WHO) the number of infected people reached nearly 17 million people around the world, and the number of reported deaths exceeded 100,000. This serious situation has forced the entire world to face a series of challenges which require the adoption of some polices to prevent or at least delimit further damage by the virus. However, corona pandemic has revealed the importance of scientific research to advance and confront potential crises and disasters in creative ways. Where Japanese researchers, for example, increased their production by 51%, which is higher than their production before the pandemic, Al-Ani, . One of these policies is the language use during the pandemic which has led to a linguistic change. Language, by its nature is dynamic and not static, it is changing over time according to the need of societies. The Corona pandemic has also caused a major linguistic change and has acquired a unique dictionary, as there was a need for specific words and vocabulary to confront the threat of this virus. Accordingly, some old words have been recalled, and a shift in the meanings has occurred to use of some of the other words which already existed, whereas other expressions that did not exist were introduced. This article deals with the mechanism of linguistic development in general, and the features of this development in times of specific crises that afflict people from time to time, whether they are societal, political, economic or scientific crises, with a focus on the most prominent innovations and lexical linguistic additions in the countries of the English-speaking world during Corona pandemic, and that is based on the main assumption that linguists should participate in confronting the crisis in order to seek clarity and transparency. Hence, the significance of this study is to shed light on the impact of Corona pandemic on the Arabic language and its interaction with reality through the acquisition of new expressions and words in social, educational, and technological aspects of human life as well as the semantic shift to some expressions in use during the pandemic time. This study also focuses on the challenges that translators have encountered while translating some of English coronavirus words/ expressions into Arabic. The Data was gathered from a variety of sources, including social media, articles, and papers. Additionally, the research employed a descriptive methodology to assess the influence of the coronavirus on the Arabic language. Scopes Theory of translation is adopted to examine and deliberate the methods of translating coronavirus-related expressions into Arabic. The study is structured with an introduction, three sections, and a concluding section that encapsulates the most significant findings and recommendations.
2. The Problem
This study aims to investigate the repercussions of COVID-19 pandemic on Arabic language, examining how it has dynamically interfaced with real-world developments. The study will explore the assimilation of novel expressions and vocabulary within the social, educational, and technological spheres of human existence. Furthermore, it will scrutinize the semantic transformations that certain expressions have undergone throughout the pandemic. Additionally, this research will investigate specific challenges faced by translators when translating English coronavirus-related terminology and expressions into Arabic.
3. The Aim of the Study
Research on COVID-19 is rapidly expanding, with most studies concentrated in the domains of medicine, mental health, and public health. However, there is a limited body of work examining the pandemic's impact on linguistics and translation, especially concerning the Arabic language and translations from English into Arabic. Accordingly, this study aims to:
Assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on various aspects of the Arabic language in different life contexts.
1) Examine the semantic changes that have occurred during the pandemic, elucidating how terms and expressions have taken on new meanings, diverging from their prior synonymous usage.
2) Investigate the strategies employed by translators to tackle the challenges inherent in translating the new expressions and terms that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic into Arabic.
3) To answer the first two questions (1) and (2) a descriptive analysis is conducted to test the changes that have happened to the language in use. Whereas a theoretical framework is designed namely, Schjoldager’s model and Baker’s model are utilized for the analysis to answer the third question i.e., to test the translation of coronavirus language at macro and micro levels.
4. The Methodology
To address the above initial two questions (1) and (2), a descriptive examination is carried out aimed at assessing the alterations in language usage. Simultaneously, a theoretical framework derived from Schjoldager's model and Baker's model is adopted for the examination of translation aspects in response to the above third question. This comprehensive analysis delves into the translation of coronavirus-related language at both macro and micro levels.
5. Theoretical Background

5.1. The Relevance of Applied Linguistics in the Era of the Coronavirus

Human language is dynamic and evolves over time, as Crystal points out, "in historical linguistics, it is a broad term that refers to the changes occurring within a language over an extended period. This change is seen as a universal and unpreventable process. It was initially systematically studied by comparative philologists towards the end of the 18th century and further explored in the 20th century by historical linguists and sociolinguists. All aspects of language are subject to this phenomenon, with particular attention given to phonology and vocabulary due to the noticeable and frequent changes in these areas." Human languages continually develop alongside the progress of societies. Consequently, the process of change may seem somewhat unavoidable and foreseeable, although often imperceptible, leaving its mark over a specific time frame .
On the other hand, general linguistics or theoretical is the science that studies language following a scientific approach, providing a linguistic “theory” and a “description” of language phenomena. When sciences such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, and other linguistic sciences emerged; “Linguistics” has become the umbrella for all these sciences, and an affirmation of its original nature as an “independent” science that aims to describe human language in a “scientific” way, regardless of the “practical” benefits of this description, which are often ignored.
When there is a language “problem” then “applied linguistics” tries to find a “solution” for. Therefore, applied linguistics is the science that represents a bridge linking different linguistic sciences. Hence, applied linguistics is a science with multiple sources and tributaries, from which it derives its material to solve the problem it undertakes, and since the human “language” has a close connection with the cognitive activity of man, these sources cannot be limited to sciences in themselves.
The importance of this science is evident by answering the following question; How can we benefit from applied linguistics or linguistics in understanding and analyzing medical terminology, in understanding and analyzing health media work, and in understanding and analyzing what is happening with the novel coronavirus pandemic in particular?
In contrast, theoretical linguistics, also known as general linguistics, is the scientific study of language that adopts a systematic approach, aiming to formulate linguistic theories and provide a comprehensive description of language phenomena. With the emergence of various linguistic disciplines such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and applied linguistics, among others, "Linguistics" has evolved into an overarching field encompassing all these sciences. This reaffirms its inherent nature as an "independent" science focused on scientifically describing human language, regardless of the practical applications often overlooked.
Applied linguistics, however, tries to find a “solution” when there is a language-related "issue" to address. It endeavors to find "solutions" to linguistic challenges, serving as a bridge that connects various linguistic sciences. Applied linguistics draws from diverse sources and influences, relying on a range of fields to address the problems it tackles. Given the close connection between human "language" and cognitive processes, these sources cannot be confined to individual disciplines.
The significance of this discipline becomes apparent when we consider how applied linguistics or linguistics can aid in comprehending and analyzing medical terminology, dissecting the communication strategies used in healthcare media, and providing insights into the language dynamics during events like the COVID-19 pandemic .
As discussed in the previous response, applied linguistics is the discipline that investigates the role of language across various aspects of life, including education, healthcare, media, law, tourism, politics, and more. Its significance lies in the fact that linguistic communication is the means through which people interact and understand each other. Many misunderstandings and problems between individuals arise due to language-related issues. Therefore, applied linguistics explores any context in which language serves as a tool for comprehension, communication, and interaction.
This study particularly concerns language interactions in various settings, such as those between doctors and patients, judges and defendants, investigators and the accused, teachers and students, parents and children, and so on. Language plays an indispensable role in all areas of life, underscoring the importance of the study of language and its impact on the processes of understanding, cooperation, and influence.

5.2. Language Growth in Times of Crisis

During significant crises, there arises a necessity to introduce new terms or adapt the existing vocabulary to accurately describe emerging developments when the current language becomes inadequate. This process leads to significant linguistic changes, especially when the conventional terminology no longer effectively conveys the required meanings, particularly in the face of profound social transformations brought about by external pressures.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, linguists have been closely observing a growing collection of vocabulary and terms directly linked to the emerging virus and its widespread impact across various aspects of life. This surge in terminology necessitated the frequent updating of well-known dictionaries. What's remarkable is that in today's coronavirus crisis, this new vocabulary is being officially recognized much more swiftly than in the past, where it could take decades. English dictionaries like Oxford and Merriam-Webster have swiftly adopted many of these terms before they become firmly established in common usage, largely due to their extensive coverage in mass media and social platforms.
In the Arabic-speaking world, there has been some debate about certain terms, like "pandemic," which haven't yet become universally ingrained in the collective consciousness, despite their widespread use in media and by official institutions. To address this linguistic gap, the Arab Organization for Education, Culture, and Science (ALECSO) released a trilingual scientific dictionary (Arabic, English, and French) focused on COVID-19, titled "Dictionary of COVID-19 Terms," and "The Dictionary of Coronavirus Culture," which explores various aspects of life during the pandemic.
This dictionary, a collaborative effort, includes a comprehensive selection of terms and their scientific definitions, adapting them to the Arabic language. It covers a wide range of topics related to the virus, encompassing scientific, medical, psychological, and social dimensions, along with the virus's history, origin, transmission, and methods of combat. Furthermore, it delves into the virus's relationship with the environment and its impact on human beings both physically and psychologically. A glance at the dictionary's list of terms demonstrates the breadth and depth of its coverage, highlighting its commitment to presenting all aspects of the coronavirus topic with a scientific approach .
In 2020, the global education systems faced an unprecedented upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data provided by the UNESCO Statistics Organization, over 1.0 billion students, which accounts for more than 90% of the total student population, found their schools and universities closed until May 2021. During this period, 26 countries had full school closures, while 55 countries had partial openings. UNESCO's estimates suggest that in certain areas and classrooms, up to 90% of school-age children were unable to access education .
However, to curb the spread of the virus among students, who make up a significant portion of society, educational methods transitioned to remote learning as schools and universities shut down. Within a mere two weeks of lockdown, measures were implemented to ensure the continuity of essential services and the functioning of government and private institutions. China spearheaded a series of online conferences, established comprehensive platforms, and launched the largest digital education initiative ever seen by humanity. This initiative brought together over 200 million students, enabling them to continue their studies from the safety of their homes with high efficiency. Students received their academic content through screens, ensuring that the academic year progressed as if there were no pandemic, regardless of the external circumstances.
Table 1. Examples in the fields of education and technology.

The concept

English Meaning in use

Arabic Meaning in use

Direct Translation into Arabic

Contact tracing

The identification and location of persons who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Tracing can be managed digitally through smartphone apps or be conducted manually through telephone calls and snail mail such as EHTIRAZ app.

تحديد وموقع الأشخاص الذين تعرضوا لشخص ثبتت إصابته بـ COVID-19. يمكن إدارة التتبع رقميًا من خلال تطبيقات الهاتف الذكي أو إجراؤه يدويًا من خلال المكالمات الهاتفية والبريد العادي على سبيل المثال تطبيق احتراز في دولة قطر..

تتبع جهات الاتصال

Digital contact tracing

Some companies, governments, and others are experimenting with using smartphone apps to complement public health workers’ contact tracing efforts.

تقوم بعض الشركات والحكومات وغيرها بتجربة استخدام تطبيقات الهواتف الذكية لاستكمال جهود تتبع جهات الاتصال للعاملين في مجال الصحة العامة.

تتبع الاتصال الرقمي


Technologies such as cloud services, or hardware and software that enable better collaboration and collaboration. In education, game learning will integrate more social skills and community learning.

تقنيات متطورة مثل الخدمات السحابية ، أو الأجهزة والبرامج التي تتيح العمل المشترك والتعاون بشكل أفضل. في التعليم ، سوف يدمج التعلم باللعبة المزيد من المهارات الاجتماعية وتعلم المجتمع ،.

تسريع التكنولوجيا


‘the period of shutdown or that long quarantine sleep’; coronaviva which means ‘an oral examination or thesis defense taken online during the lockdown’; and zoom

"فترة الإغلاق أو فترة النوم الطويلة في الحجر الصحي" ؛ Coronaviva والتي تعني "فحص شفهي أو دفاع عن أطروحة يتم إجراؤها عبر الإنترنت أثناء الإغلاق"

فحص شفهي


The ability for an employee to complete work assignments from outside the traditional workplace by using telecommunications tools such as email, phone, chat and video apps.

قدرة الموظف على إكمال مهام العمل من خارج مكان العمل التقليدي باستخدام أدوات الاتصالات مثل البريد الإلكتروني والهاتف وتطبيقات الدردشة والفيديو.

العمل إلكترونيا


(Remote workers using the well-known business communications platform Slack.)

سلاكرز (عُمال عن بُعد يستخدمون منصة الاتصالات التجارية المعروفةبسلاك Slack).

عمال عن بعد


Security exploit in which a threat actor hijacks a video conference to deliver pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language. To prevent Zoom bombing, security experts recommend users make all meetings private, set screen-sharing options to "host only," and avoid sharing Zoom links on social media.

استغلال أمني حيث يقوم ممثل التهديد باختطاف مؤتمر فيديو من اجل التهديد باختطفاف شخص او التهديد باستخدامه لعرض صور اباحية او مشاركة الرابط مع اناس غير مرغوب بهم في الاجتماع.

قصف / تهديد زووم

Digital divide

At a high level, the digital divide is the gap between those with Internet access and those without it.

على مستوى عالٍ ، فإن الفجوة الرقمية هي الفجوة بين أولئك الذين لديهم إمكانية الوصول إلى الإنترنت والذين لا يملكونها.

تقسيم رقمي

Post-normal science

(Situations in which economic, political, or social decisions must be made despite uncertainty about relevant scientific insights).

(الحالات التي يجب فيها اتخاذ قرارات اقتصادية أو سياسية أو اجتماعية رغم عدم اليقين بشأن الرؤى العلمية ذات الصلة).

ما بعد العلم القياسي

Remote learning

An opportunity for students and teachers to remain connected and engaged with the content while working from their homes. It refers to eLearning in which students and teachers utilize electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of the traditional classroom.

فرصة للطلاب والمعلمين للبقاء على اتصال ومشاركين مع المحتوى أثناء العمل من منازلهم. يشير إلى التعليم الإلكتروني الذي يستخدم فيه الطلاب والمعلمون التقنيات الإلكترونية للوصول إلى المناهج التعليمية خارج الفصول الدراسية التقليدية.

التعلم عن بعد (من المنازل)

Beyond classroom learning

Learning at home in which students and teachers utilize electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of the traditional classroom.

حيث يستخدم الطلاب والمعلمون التقنيات الإلكترونية للوصول إلى المناهج التعليمية خارج الفصول الدراسية التقليدية.

ما وراء التعلم في الفصول الدراسية

Virtual meeting

It is a gathering of at least two individuals for a discussion that takes place online. It is sometimes referred to as a video conference.

الاجتماع الافتراضي هو تجمع لشخصين على الأقل لمناقشة تجري عبر الإنترنت. يشار إليه أحيانًا باسم مؤتمر الفيديو.

اجتماع افتراضي

Blended learning

is an educational model for teaching students in both a traditional classroom setting and an online learning environment thousands of schools and universities, all around the world, have shifted to blended learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

التعليم المختلط هو نموذج تعليمي لتعليم الطلاب في كل من الفصول الدراسية التقليدية وبيئة التعلم عبر الإنترنت ، وقد تحولت الآلاف من المدارس والجامعات حول العالم إلى التعلم المدمج استجابةً لوباء COVID-19.

التعلم المختلط

Hybrid learning

model of

online and in-person education


التعليم عبر الإنترنت وداخل الصف الدراسي.

التعلم الهجين

Miss Rona

(slang word that originated in teen forums online as a description of coronavirus; the prefix miss refers to rude behaviour or speech, thus the meaning of the term can become rude coronavirus, as the personification of the current circumstances in which the virus has disrupted our lives, cancelled our plans, tested our relationships, and watched us to ourselves and by others.

ميس رونا (كلمة عامية نشأت في منتديات المراهقين على الإنترنت كوصف لفيروس كورونا؛ وتشير البادئة Miss إلى السلوك أو الخطاب الوقح، وبالتالي يمكن أن يُصبح معنى المصطلح فيروس كورونا الوقح، كتجسيد للظروف الحالية التي عطَّل فيها الفيروس حياتنا، وأدى إلى إلغاء خُططنا واختبار علاقاتنا ومراقبتنا لأنفسنا ومن قبل الآخرين.

الانسة رونا

Safety distancing

Putting physical distance between yourself and other people. maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.

مسافة الامان،ضع مسافة جسدية بينك وبين الآخرين. الحفاظ على مسافة (حوالي 6 أقدام) من الآخرين عندما يكون ذلك ممكنًا.

مسافة الامالن


Isolation involves keeping people with confirmed cases of a contagious disease separated from people who are not sick. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, for example, you may be put into isolation for public health purposes—it may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders.

العزل ، تشمل العزلة إبقاء الأشخاص الذين يعانون من حالات مؤكدة من مرض معدي منفصلين عن الأشخاص غير المرضى. إذا كانت لديك حالة مؤكدة من COVID-19 ، على سبيل المثال ، فقد يتم عزلك لأغراض الصحة العامة - قد يكون ذلك طوعيًا أو ملزمًا بموجب أوامر الصحة العامة الفيدرالية أو الحكومية أو المحلية.



Basically a voluntary agreement, which means that a person remains at home and not go to work or school to limit the movements outside (s/he can go for a walk and go shopping, though) and monitor his/her health for 14 days after returning from travel to a place known to have high numbers of COVID-19 infections.

العزلة الذاتية في الأساس اتفاق طوعي ، مما يعني أن الشخص يبقى في المنزل ولا يذهب إلى العمل أو المدرسة للحد من تحركاته بالخارج (يمكنه / يمكنها الذهاب في نزهة على الأقدام والذهاب للتسوق ، رغم ذلك) ومراقبة صحته / صحتها لمدة 14 أيام بعد العودة من السفر إلى مكان معروف بوجود أعداد كبيرة من إصابات COVID-19.

عزل ذاتي


Involves separating and restricting the movements of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. The government may impose a quarantine on someone who was exposed to COVID-19 to avoid spread of the disease to others if they get sick.

الحجر الصحي ،ويتضمن فصل وتقييد تحركات الأشخاص الذين تعرضوا لمرض معد لمعرفة ما إذا كانوا مرضى. قد تفرض الحكومة حجرًا صحيًا على شخص تعرض لـ COVID-19 لتجنب انتشار المرض للآخرين في حالة مرضه.

الحجر الصحي

Hand hygiene

A key strategy for slowing the spread for COVID-19. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the most important steps to take to protect against COVID-19 and many other diseases.

معقم اليدين ، وهو استراتيجية رئيسية لإبطاء انتشار COVID-19. يعد غسل اليدين بالماء والصابون لمدة 20 ثانية على الأقل من أهم الخطوات التي يجب اتخاذها للحماية من COVID-19 والعديد من الأمراض الأخرى.

معقم ايد


Corona literature (literature produced during the pandemic period and/or inspired by the Corona crisis. The letters Lit are short for the word Literature, i.e. literature).

أدبيات كورونا (الأدبيات التي تم إنتاجها خلال فترة الجائحة و/ أو المستوحاة من أزمة كورونا. والحروف Lit اختصار لكلمة Literature، أي أدبيات).

ادبيات كورونا

Coronavirus has especial impact on communication language to make informed decisions on how to take care of people health and to prevent enormous and misinformation to protect themselves and others from the infection of COVID-19. Below are some examples in the field of communication and society.
Table 2. Examples in the field of communication and society.

The concept

English Meaning in use

Meaning in Arabic in use

Direct Translation into Arabic

Active monitoring

daily assessment of an infected person at least once a day by authorized healthcare or public health staff

التقييم اليومي للشخص المصاب مرة واحدة على الأقل في اليوم من قبل موظفي الرعاية الصحية أو الصحة العامة المعتمدين

المراقبة النشطة

CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

the U.S. government agency responsible for tracking and confirming the spread of COVID-19.

مراكز السيطرة على الأمراض والوقاية منها

مراكز السيطرة


isolating patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the same designated area of a healthcare facility.

عزل المرضى الذين ثبتت إصابتهم بـ COVID-19 في نفس المنطقة المخصصة لمرفق الرعاية الصحية.


Community spread

some people in a specific area have been infected with the virus without being able to trace how or where they became infected.

أصيب بعض الأشخاص في منطقة معينة بالفيروس دون أن يتمكنوا من تتبع كيف أو مكان الإصابة.

الانتشار المجتمعي


a person who has been exposed to someone else who has tested positive for COVID-19.

المخالط/ شخص تعرض لشخص آخر ثبتت إصابته بـ COVID-19.



disparaging term often used in social media to describe someone who fails to honor health and safety guidelines.

غالبًا ما يستخدم مصطلح مهين في وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي لوصف شخص لا يحترم إرشادات الصحة والسلامة.



a temporary layoff, after which people will return to the job they held before being furloughed. Typically, furloughed employees are not paid during the shutdown period, but do retain healthcare benefits.

تسريح مؤقت للعمال ، وبعد ذلك يعود الناس إلى الوظيفة التي شغلوها قبل إجازة المغادرة. عادة ، لا يتم دفع رواتب الموظفين الذين تم إجازتهم خلال فترة الإغلاق ، لكنهم يحتفظون بمزايا الرعاية الصحية.

تسريح مؤقت للعمال

Deep cleaning

the neutralization and removal of a dangerous pathogens; it involves first washing and then disinfecting all surfaces that could potentially spread the contagion.

تحييد وإزالة مسببات الأمراض الخطيرة ؛ إنه ينطوي أولاً على غسل ثم تطهير جميع الأسطح التي يمكن أن تنشر العدوى.

التنظيف العميق

Direct contact

the result of coming within six feet of an infected person. In some areas of the world, tests for coronavirus are only given if the person in question has been in direct contact with another person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

نتيجة الاقتراب من شخص مصاب بمقدار ستة أقدام. في بعض مناطق العالم ، لا يتم إجراء اختبارات فيروس كورونا إلا إذا كان الشخص المعني على اتصال مباشر بشخص آخر ثبتت إصابته بفيروس COVID-19.

اتصال مباشر

Drive through testing

a strategic approach in which Individuals remain in their vehicles while medical staff in protective gear administer a swab test for COVID-19.

نهج استراتيجي يبقى فيه الأفراد في سياراتهم بينما يقوم الطاقم الطبي في معدات الحماية بإجراء اختبار مسحة لـ COVID-19.

القيادة خلال الاختبار


an inanimate object or surface that a virus uses as a temporary host.

كائن أو سطح غير حي يستخدمه الفيروس كمضيف مؤقت.


Gig worker

synonym for freelance worker. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act includes unemployment benefits for independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed.

. يشمل قانون المساعدة والإغاثة والأمن الاقتصادي لفيروس كورونا (CARES) مزايا البطالة للمقاولين المستقلين والعاملين في الوظائف المؤقتة والعاملين لحسابهم الخاص.

العامل المستقل

Herd immunity

a well-established medical protocol for hand washing in which soap and/or alcohol-based sanitizer is used to reduce the transmission of harmful pathogens.

بروتوكول طبي راسخ لغسل اليدين يستخدم فيه الصابون و / أو المطهرات التي تحتوي على الكحول للحد من انتقال مسببات الأمراض الضارة.

مناعة القطيع


(Monitoring the incidence of infection in the population).

(مراقبة حدوث العدوى بين السكان).

رصد حيوي


Corona corridor (an area through which people are allowed to travel to reach a certain destination as the lockdown measures are gradually eased during the pandemic).

(منطقة يُسمح للأشخاص بالسفر عبرها للوصول إلى وجهة معينة تخفيفًا لإجراءات الإغلاق خلال الجائحة تدريجيًا).

ممر كورونا

Corona shaming

Defamation related to the Corona crisis (public criticism of those who violate public health rules during the Corona crisis, especially celebrities).

: تشهير متعلق بأزمة كورونا (انتقاد علني لأولئك الذين ينتهكون قواعد الصحة العامة خلال أزمة كورونا، وبصفة خاصة المشاهير منهم).

عار كورونا


(forced leave from work due to the Corona pandemic). The term is composed of two syllables: “Corona” and “vacation”.

عُطلة كورونا (إجازة قسرية من العمل بسبب جائحة كورونا). والمصطلح مؤلف من مقطعين: «كورونا» Corona، و«عُطلة» أو «إجازة» Vacation

عطلة كوروما


Quick to anger due to the Corona crisis.

: سريع الغضب بسبب أزمة كورونا.



Corona cuts (hair cutting and styling at home during the Corona pandemic, which seems unprofessional).

(قص وتصفيف الشعر في المنزل خلال جائحة كورونا، والتي تبدو غير حرفية).

قصَّات كورونا


Corona generation (a person born during the Corona pandemic,

(الشخص الذي وُلد أثناء جائحة كورونا،

جيل كورونا


(cases of separation of spouses / divorce that took place as a result of the pressures of self-isolation and the spouses spending a long period of time together in home isolation during the Corona pandemic).

(حالات انفصال الزوجين التي تمت نتيجة ضغوط العُزلة الذاتية وقضاء الزوجين فترة طويلة معًا في العزل المنزلي خلال جائحة كورونا).

طلاق كوفيد


(a nickname given to those who sang and played music from balconies to boost morale), then applied to the seven critical care hospitals England has set up as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

عنادل، جمع عندليب (لقب أطلق على أولئك الذين كانوا يقومون بالغناء وعزف الموسيقي من شرفات المنازل تعزيزًا للروح المعنوية، ثم تم إطلاقه على سبعة مستشفيات للرعاية الحرجة، أنشأتها انجلترا كجزء من الاستجابة لجائحة كورونا.

المغنيين والعازفين في زمن كورونا

Social Bubble

an action taken by one contemporary family, another family, another family, a family of no more than ten, the restrictions of the Corona pandemic).

(بمعنى أي إجراء تتخذه أسرة معينة بالاندماج مع أسرة أخرى، وبما لا يزيد عن عشرة أفراد، لتخفيف قيود الإغلاق خلال جائحة كورونا).

فقاعة اجتماعية

During this time, military terminology is commonly employed as a powerful means of capturing the attention of those who listen or read. As a result, certain military terms are utilized as a means of influencing public perception during the pandemic to emphasize the gravity of the situation and encourage individuals to reduce the risks associated with this virus, as illustrated in the table provided . In terms of societal shifts, experts have compared the severity and danger of this virus to military threats, impacting both civilians and illustrated in Table 3 .
Table 3. Examples in the field of military .

The concept


Translation into Arabic

war on the virus

Fight against the enemy

حرب على الفايرس


a regulation requiring people to remain indoors

حظر التجول

Shelter–in-place order

People to stay in their homes with exceptions that include going out for essential needs

البقاء في المنازل وعدم الخروج الا عند الضرورة القصوى.

Friday curfew

Muslims must pray at home on Fridays (prohibited to pray in Mosques)

حظر صلاة الجمعة للمسلمين في الجامع

white army

Medical workers) doctors, nurses, lab, etc.)

الجيش الابيض من اطباء وممرضين ومحللي مختبرات ومساعدين الخ

Recruit every citizen

enlist (someone) in the armed forces.

تجنيد كل مواطن

Vaccine safety

A vaccine without side effects

مأمونية اللقاح


a device that makes a loud prolonged sound as a signal or warning:

"especially in war time"

صافرات الانذار

Common invisible enemy

A common invisible enemy, (a description used by NATO of the virus that causes coronavirus, as an invisible enemy that threatens humanity).

عدو غير مرئي مشترك (وصف استخدمه حلف شمال الأطلسي «ناتو NATO» للفيروس المسبب لمرض كورونا، كعدو غير مرئي يُهدد البشرية).

fight the virus

take part in a violent struggle involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons to kill or prevent the spread of the virus.

محاربة الفايروس

The extensive lists continue to feature numerous fresh terms and acronyms linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Readers are encouraged to explore these terms, along with their regular updates, in the "COVI Dictionary," an online dictionary accessible on the "Lingoblog" website. "Lingoblog" is an electronic platform dedicated to disseminating information on language and linguistics, both locally and internationally .
The newly developed language can aid individuals in grasping the extent of the ongoing deteriorating crisis. However, it also has the potential to heighten tension and confusion when it comes to comprehending the technical, economic, and political terminology widely circulated in the media and among experts. Consequently, the need for expert assistance, including linguists, becomes apparent. As a result, a new field has emerged, known as "Emergency Linguistics," as part of the rapid response to disasters.
The primary goal of this discipline is to emphasize the involvement of linguists in addressing COVID-19 pandemic to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunication, as well as to manage language-related disparities that may arise during public emergencies. The Chinese experience during the crisis underscored the importance of linguists playing a vital role in facilitating communication between medical personnel, patients, their families, and government authorities, while also helping the Chinese government communicate clearly and credibly with both domestic and international public opinion .

5.3. Semantic Transformations the Pandemic

Semantic shift, as defined by , involves a transformation in the meaning of words compared to their original definitions. The process of semantic shift is explored in relation to various factors, such as the need for new terminology, abstract concepts, sociocultural changes, close relationships between concepts, lexical complexity, and emotionally charged concepts .
In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, language underwent significant transformations as journalists and content creators worldwide grappled with medical terminology previously unfamiliar to them. This was evident in the naming of the virus (the new coronavirus or COVID-19) and the disease it caused. Military metaphors and semantic changes became apparent as the virus was described using war-related terms, like "invades" or "wages war." These war metaphors extended into the language of biologists, referring to viruses as "invading," immune cells as "killer cells," and emphasizing "biological security."
Healthcare professionals and officials also adopted war metaphors, with terms like "frontline" for hospitals and descriptions of a "hard war" against an unknown enemy. "Herd immunity" experienced a semantic shift, relating to the concept of protection, like how a herd of buffalo shields the weakest members within.
One noticeable shift occurred with the concept of "social distancing," which evolved into a term used as a verb rather than a noun. Originally rooted in psychology, anthropology, sociology, and linguistics, it was initially adopted by French President Emmanuel Macron and subsequently spread globally. Although it aimed to prevent the spread of the virus by canceling gatherings and maintaining physical distance, it led to concerns of social isolation, prompting some to prefer "physical distancing."
In crisis situations, new words and expressions often emerge and make their way into dictionaries to facilitate communication. However, the impact of crises can extend beyond introducing new terms; they can also bring about substantial semantic shifts in language as shown in Table 4.
COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in several semantic changes in language, and below are some examples of coronavirus-related terms that demonstrate these shifts.
Table 4. Examples of semantic shift .



Arabic Equivalent

Friday ban) for Muslims)

Pray at home, Muslims are waiting for the hour to "lift the ban" to pray.

حظر الجمعة


makes a loud prolonged sound as a signal or warning. (normally used in war time), It portends a serious outbreak of disease in a particular area.

صفارات الإنذار




The test result is "negative" and not "positive". Contrary to what is familiar, where positivity is a desirable characteristic, and negativity in life usually repels people.

النتيجة سلبية


The scientific (medical) name of the new Corona virus, officially in February 2020 AD (11-2-2020), is “COVID-19” (COVID-19), which is a compound name with capital letters from “CO” in “corona” and “VI” is in “virus,” “D” is in “disease,” and “19” is from “2019” (2019) (the year in which the epidemic occurred).

كوفيد 19

Flattening the epidemiological curve

This term has become a kind of reassurance and hope, especially with the "societal spread of the epidemic", which was touched by everyone, as there are infected cases in most neighborhoods and regions.

تسطيح المنحنى الوبائي

Pray at home

Don’t pray at Mosques but at home to avoid infection.

صلوا في بيوتكم / في رحالكم


Its normal meaning is ‘beat up’. It is a military slang word used by pilots during World War II. However, it is used in coronavirus time to mean ‘crash the disease’ or ‘beat it’.


Herd Immunity

To mean the “Community Immunity”. It has immoral connotation, and if others suggested “communal” immunity as a substitute for it, it remained rejected because it means negligence in protecting people, and that whoever survives the epidemic will have immunity in the hope that the disease will disappear.

مناعة القطيع/ حصانة القطيع

As we have discussed, it is evident that a multitude of words have experienced alterations and adaptations as required. Therefore, the answer to the second question has been provided.
6. Language Interpretation and Communication During Crisis
Translation serves as a crucial tool for conveying scientific and cultural information, sharing opinions, and disseminating ideas on a global scale. Linguists have actively collected terms, concepts, and glossaries related to COVID-19, translating them into various languages to provide information about the pandemic. This role of translation and translators has significantly contributed to raising awareness about health and mitigating the rapid spread of the epidemic.
Given that language remains our primary medium of human communication, it naturally evolves over time in response to the continuous advancement of cultures, sciences, and civilizations. This evolution can manifest in various linguistic levels, including phonetics, morphology, syntax, and semantics, but it is most evident in the latter, especially during crises, when new words emerge to fulfill the evolving needs of daily communication. Whether language is natural or artificial, new words are formed through derivation, composition, or by giving existing words new meanings to express novel events.
This section delves into the strategies employed by translators to render the vocabulary associated with the coronavirus outbreak and highlights specific challenges and issues tied to translation. The functional/Skopos Theory (2008) guides the analysis and discussion of the provided data.
Table 5. Micro-Analysis Taxonom .




Direct transfer

Transfer something unchanged.

العزلة الذاتية self-isolation


Transfer the structure or makes a very close translation (resulting in unidiomatic language).

Coronavirus كورونا فيروس

Direct translation

Translate in a word-or-word procedure (resulting in idiomatic language)

Social distancing التباعد الاجتماعي

Oblique translation

Translate in sense-for-sense procedure.

MASK /MASQUE الكمامة


Make implicit information explicit.

Corona-corridorممر كورونا


Translate rather freely.

Had slap التحية دون التلامس المباشر بالكف


Translate in a shorter way, which may involve implication. (Making explicit information implicit).



Re-create the effect, entirely or partially.

كؤتمر عبر الفيديو video conference


Add a unit of meaning

CORONA=Fiقصص كورونا الخيالية


Change the meaning.

Hybrid التعليم الشخصيًي عبر الإنترنت


Leave out a unit of meaning

It may occur in context


Translate in a different place

It may occur in context

Table 6. Macro-Analysis Taxonomy .

Source -Text Oriented Macro-strategy

Target-Text Oriented Macro-strategy

1) Focus on source –text form and content.

2) Communication of somebody else’s communication. Overt translation

1) Focus on target-text effect Mediate between primary parties in a communication.

2) Covert translation.

Throughout the pandemic, journalists, and content creators from around the world found themselves grappling with a multitude of medical terms that were previously unfamiliar to them. This included the name of the virus itself, referred to as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 (كورونا الجديد أم الفيروس التاجي), as well as the disease it caused (مرض كورونا or مرض كوفيد-19). Moreover, there were discussions about the distinctions between an epidemic and a pandemic, as well as the translation of "Social Distancing" (التباعد بالمسافة or التباعد الاجتماعي), with options like "social distance," "social spacing," or simply "distance" being proposed by translators. Additionally, numerous other specialized terms, such as "super infectious vector" (ناقل العدوى الفائق) and "basic reproduction number" (عدد التكاثر الأساسي), emerged, raising the need for accurate and responsible handling through consultation with specialized dictionaries and medical professionals.
As the pandemic extended over several months, an increasing number of new words surfaced in various languages, particularly in English. These words may present significant challenges for translators in different languages, particularly Arabic, should their usage become widespread and necessitate finding suitable equivalents in the target language. In the case mentioned above, translators employed two distinct methods: direct translation at the macro level and target-text-oriented strategies at both the micro and macro levels.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as people increasingly turned to online platforms for work and education, the electronic application "Zoom" (زووم) gained significant popularity. It became synonymous with the term "video conference" (مؤتمر عبر الفيديو) and was even verbed in English, as in expressions like "Let's zoom at four o'clock" (لنلتقي على زووم في الرابعة, meaning "let's meet on Zoom at four o'clock"). The term "Zoombombing" (زوومبمبنك or زوومبمب) emerged to describe the unwanted intrusion and disruption of video meetings by uninvited participants, drawing a parallel to the term "Photobombing" which involves spontaneous intrusion into photos. The incorporation of the trademark "Zoom" into everyday language was a marketer's dream come true but potentially a legal challenge for trademark lawyers.
In these instances, translators transliterated "Zoom," "Zoombombing," and "photobombing" using Arabic transcriptions because there were no direct equivalents in Arabic. The translators applied an adaptation strategy at the macro level and a source-text-oriented strategy at the micro level.
At times, translators also had to make implicit information explicit. For example, "Biosurveillance," which literally means "رصيد حيوي," was translated as "(مراقبة حدوث العدوى بين السكان)" to ensure that the concept was readily understandable to a broader audience. In this case, the translators followed an explication strategy at the macro level and a target-text-oriented strategy at the micro level.
Abbreviations and acronyms linked to the current COVID-19 situation have become a part of everyday language and are now included in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. For instance, the abbreviation WFH, which originally meant "Working from Home" and was commonly used in digital communications to inform colleagues about remote work, gained widespread use during the COVID-19 crisis to prevent the virus from spreading among people. Similarly, the acronym PPE, which stands for "Personal Protective Equipment" (referring to protective gear like clothing, helmets, and goggles), was initially confined to healthcare and emergency professionals but is now widely recognized by all.
Furthermore, as stated by WHO, diseases like MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) have been given names like "Lassa fever," and terms like "shelter-in-place" (SIP), originally meant for seeking safety during emergencies, have been adapted to advise people to stay home to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 epidemic.
Regarding the translation of terms, "informational pandemic" or "Infodemic" was coined to describe the flow of information during the SARS crisis, and it is now used to describe the surge of news related to COVID-19. Translators often use an explication strategy to make implicit information explicit for readers or listeners.
Translators sometimes face challenges when equivalent words are unavailable in the target language, as seen with the term "Coronacoaster" (fluctuations in feelings during COVID-19 crisis). In such cases, condensation strategy at the macro level and source-text-oriented strategy at the micro level may be employed.
Additionally, calque translation, such as "coronavirus" being translated into Arabic as "فايروس كورونا," is used to maintain consistency. Rhetorical language is also used in the translation of serious terms like "confinement," which may be replaced with more reassuring expressions like "stay at your homes."
Overall, the analysis and discussion reveal that translators encounter challenging issues when translating terms due to linguistic, social, and cultural differences between English and Arabic. To address these challenges, translators use various approaches and techniques, such as calque, transliteration, paraphrasing, addition, and adaptation, to ensure a consistent and coherent Arabic translation that closely aligns with the original. The translator's orientation may vary, with some focusing on source language and acting as communicators, while others emphasize target language and serve as mediators. This analysis and discussion address the third question of this study.
7. The Conclusion
After winging this presentation, it becomes evident that Arabic language and its users share a dynamic relationship, dispelling the notion of Arabic being rigid or unchanging. On the contrary, Arabic exhibits the capacity to evolve with the passage of time. COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on languages in general, with Arabic being no exception. The rapid emergence of new words and expressions, previously undocumented in dictionaries, along with the semantic shifts and altered usage of certain words, poses a significant challenge for translators. Therefore, translators must exert considerable effort to identify precise equivalents, a task that is far from straightforward.
Based on the findings of this research, it is advisable to monitor and record the emergence of new words and their evolving usage across different domains within Arabic language. It is also suggested to transform the language dictionary into an interactive resource, regularly incorporating the latest additions. Such a proactive approach will greatly support translators in achieving greater precision in their rendering and translations.
Author Contributions
Muna Ahmad Al-Shawi is the sole author. The author read and approved the final manuscript.
Conflicts of Interest
The author declares no conflicts of interest.
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    Al-Shawi, M. A. (2024). Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation, 10(1), 9-20.

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    Al-Shawi, M. A. Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics. Int. J. Appl. Linguist. Transl. 2024, 10(1), 9-20. doi: 10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12

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    AMA Style

    Al-Shawi MA. Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics. Int J Appl Linguist Transl. 2024;10(1):9-20. doi: 10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12

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  • @article{10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12,
      author = {Muna Ahmad Al-Shawi},
      title = {Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics
      journal = {International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation},
      volume = {10},
      number = {1},
      pages = {9-20},
      doi = {10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12},
      url = {},
      eprint = {},
      abstract = {Healthcare, societal structures, the economy, education, and communication have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its impact extends to the various language aspects. This study aims to explore how the pandemic has influenced language use in communication, education, and technology, especially in Arabic language. The research investigates the semantic changes that occur in certain expressions due to the pandemic. Moreover, this study examines how translators navigate challenges when translating new English terms and expressions into Arabic using the Skopos Theory. Utilizing a qualitative approach, data were collected from various social and mass media sources. In conclusion, the research findings suggest the creation of new vocabulary and semantic shifts. Additionally, Arabic, like all languages, evolves in translation, leading translators to use various methods for accurate rendering of terms and expressions.
     year = {2024}

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  • TY  - JOUR
    T1  - Emerging Problems in Language and Translation, and Related Solutions During Epidemics
    AU  - Muna Ahmad Al-Shawi
    Y1  - 2024/04/17
    PY  - 2024
    N1  -
    DO  - 10.11648/j.ijalt.20241001.12
    T2  - International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation
    JF  - International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation
    JO  - International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Translation
    SP  - 9
    EP  - 20
    PB  - Science Publishing Group
    SN  - 2472-1271
    UR  -
    AB  - Healthcare, societal structures, the economy, education, and communication have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its impact extends to the various language aspects. This study aims to explore how the pandemic has influenced language use in communication, education, and technology, especially in Arabic language. The research investigates the semantic changes that occur in certain expressions due to the pandemic. Moreover, this study examines how translators navigate challenges when translating new English terms and expressions into Arabic using the Skopos Theory. Utilizing a qualitative approach, data were collected from various social and mass media sources. In conclusion, the research findings suggest the creation of new vocabulary and semantic shifts. Additionally, Arabic, like all languages, evolves in translation, leading translators to use various methods for accurate rendering of terms and expressions.
    VL  - 10
    IS  - 1
    ER  - 

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Author Information
  • Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Doha, Qatar