Explaining key vocabulary about the coronavirus (COVID-19) to help you talk about this global pandemic in English.
Episode Notes, Transcripts & Links
Hello ladies and gentlemen, here is an episode about the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), which is the #1 story in the news around the world at the moment. It’s something that we are all facing; me, you, everyone.
In this episode the plan is to;
a) Talk a little bit about the situation where I live and how this might affect me, my family and the podcast.
b) Go through a list of vocabulary items in order to help you learn the right words you need to talk about this situation in English. This will contain various medial words, and also general words being used day to day by people talking about this situation.
c) Go through some language to describe “how to wash your hands”. That’s not public health advice, it’s just quite interesting from a language point of view. How do you describe the process of washing your hands correctly? It’s something many of us are doing, and talking about a lot at the moment. How do you describe it in English?
So, a bit of a ramble and then lots of key vocabulary.
Let’s get started.
I wasn’t planning to talk about this but the situation has just reached a new stage here in France where I live and also people keep asking me to talk about it.
I’d like to echo the comments of Jurgen Klopp the manager of Liverpool FC, which I briefly mentioned in episode 649.
Essentially he said (and I’m paraphrasing) Why do people ask me to talk about it? I’m a football manager, but in terms of the virus, I am the same as you. I’m just a normal person. People should ask experts, not me. I’m just a guy in a baseball cap who hasn’t shaved properly.
I’m a bit wary of talking about the subject because I’m not an expert on viruses. I’m just an English teacher. I’m happy to talk about my personal experiences of it – meaning, what’s going on here in France where I live or back in the UK, but I really don’t want to spread misinformation. I wouldn’t want to get any of the facts wrong. And there are various important facts that I just don’t know, like specific numbers of infected people, where the virus comes from specifically. I understand that it first infected people in the Wuhan area of China, that it probably originated in bats, then spread to an animal called a pangolin (which I had never heard of before this) and then to humans.
Anyway, I’ll talk more specifically later. The point is, I can only talk about it from my own personal point of view, rather than as a really well-informed commentator. I’m just like most of you, probably. Just trying to work out what is going on day by day. I’m wondering if I’m even qualified to talk about it.
Having said that, I think it’s important to address what’s going on. This podcast is for an international audience and this is very much an international thing. We are all united by the fact that we are now facing this global pandemic.
Also I think that most of you don’t really expect me to talk as an expert. You’re probably just interested in hearing about my personal experiences of the matter and learning some vocab.
There are all sorts of issues and questions to discuss. What’s going on? What is the situation in Europe? Why is this such a big deal? How is the UK government responding to this? What is happening in my life? What is going on around me? How am I dealing with this and in fact how might this affect Luke’s English Podcast over the next month or two?
There’s also the question of how to talk about the coronavirus. I mean, how can you talk about it in English? What kind of language is being used in people’s conversations about this?
So here’s what I’m going to do. At least two episodes which I hope to upload over the next couple of days, as long as I can manage my time correctly. I’m actually recording this one at about 11.40pm on 12 March. It’s nearly my bed time! Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I get enough rest.
So, those two episodes.
- A vocabulary episode
- A conversation with my dad
This is the vocabulary episode (you’re listening to it now) and the aim is to help you learn and then use the right words and expressions in English to describe this situation.
The next episode should be a Rick Thompson report. I say should because I haven’t actually had that conversation with my dad yet. It’s scheduled to happen tomorrow. If all goes according to plan I’ll talk to Dad about it tomorrow lunchtime and hopefully will upload it tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow evening.
This is quite a time-sensitive subject, so I really want to get both these episodes published as soon as possible.
I would also like to say, in terms of podcast content that I am uploading, that the situation has suddenly become a lot more serious here in France where I live.
The French President Emmanuel Macron this evening made an announcement that schools, universities and childcare centres will be closed for the foreseeable future. The country is on semi-lockdown. I’ll be explaining phrases like “on lockdown” in the main part of this episode.
So, because the daycare centre is closed it means that my wife and I will have to look after our daughter all the time. That’s not bad in itself. I mean, we quite like her. Haha.
But it does mean that suddenly a lot of our time will be taken up by looking after her, finding things to do with her and so on. It’s going to change everything in terms of our daily routines.
Also there’s the fact that we have to stay fit and healthy ourselves. It’s not completely clear to me what the risk is to our health. Apparently my wife, my daughter and I are not the ones who are in the danger zone. Elderly people and sick people are more likely to be seriously affected by this. So, touch wood, we will be alright even if we catch the disease. In fact, we might even have it already but not notice because it hasn’t really taken hold. So, fingers crossed, touch wood, we will still be fit and healthy and I will be physically well enough to podcast as well. The main thing is the disruption to our lives that could be caused by the daycare centre being closed, and potentially other things closing in the future like the public transport system, shops, and other services. We’re not at that stage yet. There are quite a lot of unknowns. I’ll talk more about this tomorrow with Dad, hopefully.
So I have no idea how this will affect LEP. It might disrupt the podcast, meaning that I won’t be able to upload new episodes. But equally, it might not. I have the advantage of being flexible. My wife also works for herself. So we’re planning to share time with our daughter, so for example I will look after her in the morning one day and my wife will work and vice versa. So who knows, it might not affect the podcast too much.
Premium subscribers, you might be looking at your apps and thinking, where’s the new content? Well, I have the first part of the new series ready and I was planning to upload it today but this coronavirus situation has taken over a little bit, mainly in the form of people around the world asking me to talk about it and I get the feeling that this is just something that I have to talk about.
So, the premium series (P21) will come straight away after I’ve done this episode and the next one with my dad. Premium episodes will arrive.
We don’t know how long this situation will last. In terms of the podcast (which is now my main job) I’m going to take it step by step. I might be podcasting in the evenings, maybe at night, when my daughter is sleeping, when she’s with my wife.
What about you? How is the coronavirus affecting life where you are?
There’s a good chance that in your country the situation is a lot more advanced than it is in France and the UK. I have a lot of listeners in China, Japan, Korea and Italy, which have been on lockdown for several weeks now. There may be other places which are now on lockdown too. I wonder how you are coping. Good luck out there! Keep your chin up!
English lacks exactly the right phrase for this. In French they say “Bon courage”. In Japanese it’s “Ganbatte!”. In English we say things like “ best of luck!” “Keep going!” “Keep calm and carry on”.
But really. This will be a tough time for many people out there. It could be very disruptive and hard. Hang in there. My thoughts are with you.
Right, so let’s get into some vocabulary.
What I would like to do is to teach you some key words and phrases for talking about this situation.
Remember I am not an expert. I don’t think you expect me to be, but still it is worth saying. I am sure I have listeners to this podcast who are more specialised than me in this area. I invite you to give your input in the comment section.
I’m trying my best to be as accurate as possible here, focusing on the sort of everyday words and phrases people use in normal life. For example, if you had a conversation with a friend or colleague about this, what language would probably come up? This is the stuff I’d like to talk about here. It’ll also be interesting to see if any of these phrases come up in my conversation with my dad tomorrow.
Dad will also be able to give commentary on the political situation in the UK, including how the UK’s government led by Boris Johnson is responding to this situation.
Right, so vocabulary of the coronavirus!
Info for this comes from Wikipedia (which includes a full list of information sources), the NHS website and a word list on EnglishClub.com
I am reading some words and definitions from a page on EnglishClub.com, a website that publishes a lot of content for learning English, including vocabulary, grammar, infographics and more. They’re really on the ball because they’ve already published quite an extensive list of words and phrases with definitions and examples. So, I’ve picked out some of those phrases, not that they own the phrases or anything, but because I’m working against the clock here, I will be reading out some of the definitions and example sentences that they’ve added to their list. So, some of these details come from there. It probably doesn’t make that much difference to you, but credit where it’s due: EnglishClub.com
I’ve also added other phrases not in their list which I have noticed a lot.
Information sources used by EnglishClub.com
- Must-Know Vocab For COVID-19 (NPR)
- Coronavirus (World Health Organization)
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (Wikipedia)
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Wikipedia)
What is the coronavirus disease? (EnglishClub.com)
coronavirus (noun): any one of a large family of viruses that can cause disease in the breathing and eating systems of humans and animals (respiratory and digestive systems). Coronavirus diseases can range from the relatively harmless common cold to more severe and potentially fatal diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Seen through a microscope, coronaviruses appear circular with spikes, like crowns 👑, and are named after the Latin for crown, which is corona. Coronaviruses normally originate in animals and usually cannot be passed to humans. But very occasionally a coronavirus mutates and can then be transmitted from animal to human, and then from human to human. This is how the SARS epidemic started in the early 2000s, for example – Did you know that flu is a coronavirus disease?
COVID-19 (noun): official name for the novel coronavirus disease that emerged in China in 2019. COVID-19 = COronaVIrus Disease-2019. All countries are requested to report any new confirmed case of COVID-19 within 48 hours.
Let’s start by going through the first couple of paragraphs on Wikipedia. I’m just going to read through that and explain things as I go.
All sources referenced here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019
Wikipedia page for Coronavirus Disease 2019
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease has spread globally since 2019, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are some of the less common symptoms. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure. The case fatality rate is estimated at between 1% and 5% but varies by age and other health conditions.
The infection is spread from one person to others via respiratory droplets, often produced during coughing. Time from exposure to onset of symptoms is generally between two and 14 days, with an average of five days. The standard method of diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample. Antibody assays can also be used, using a blood serum sample. The infection can also be diagnosed from a combination of symptoms, risk factors, and a chest CT scan showing features of pneumonia.
Recommended measures to prevent the disease include frequent hand washing, maintaining distance from other people, and not touching one’s face. The use of masks is recommended for those who suspect they have the virus and their caregivers, but mask use is not recommended for the general public. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19; management involves treatment of symptoms, supportive care, and experimental measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Evidence of local transmission of the disease has been found in multiple countries across all six WHO regions.
Vocabulary List from EnglishClub.com
How to Wash Your Hands