Language use during the pandemic

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya - The Freeman

Even if we are obsessed with COVID issues, life must find a way to accept and embrace other issues in order to achieve some kind of normalcy. As in the case of Language Month celebrations. Government agencies, such as our education sector, have a means of honoring this by coming up with a variety of activities, but with a twist so as not to jeopardize the health and safety of their personnel.

The fact that language is dynamic is a significant and lasting feature worth exploring. Dynamism is manifested in the way it is being applied. In the event of a pandemic, language assumes the form of its dependability. It doesn't matter whether it's in English, Filipino, or our mother tongue; what matters is how it's communicated.

As the pandemic has developed, the clarity of messaging has faltered. Some people, for example, are still unsure about the differences between "enhanced," "modified," and a variety of other terms. Is it better to work from home or go to the office? Should we adhere to the "rule of six," isolate ourselves, or "eat out to help out"?

In the field of public health, language is crucial. It's important because every public health campaign's aims must be clearly defined, especially when the campaigns contain policies that restrict liberty, harm the economy, or alter our way of life. War parallels have naturally come to the fore during this pandemic, and powerful language can be utilized to urge action. SARS-COV-2 has been identified as a shared threat that can be defeated by world leaders.

While war analogies can be useful in illustrating why drastic measures like isolation and social separation are required, conflicts stretch on for a long period, and the parallels get stale. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they frequently employ war metaphors similar to those being used now to describe SARS-COV-2.

In a pandemic, using battle terminology reduces those who succumb to illness to "the weak," while praising those who recover as "the strong." The elderly, those with underlying diseases, the poor, those living in underprivileged areas, and certain Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities all experience more severe symptoms as a result of SARS-COV-2 infection. In approximately 20% of cases, SARS-COV-2 can cause long-term chronic symptoms. It is clearly divisive and incorrect to label all of these people as weak.

This linguistic abuse has recently increased. To be more specific, the language and imagery being used by some world leaders during this pandemic portends doom for global efforts to contain it. Political ambitions of leaders with global clout are set to muddle and undermine important public health messages.

In an era of breaking news and social media, language is more important than ever. Millions upon millions of people in every country on earth can see a single statement made by a strong leader.

Effective communication is critical to the efficacy of public health measures to fight COVID-19. COVID-19 prevention efforts are being hampered by politicians, celebrities, and influencers who use controversial rhetoric for personal gain. All of our authors and readers are encouraged to correct misinformation and debate linguistic misuses that hamper pandemic control.

We may not be able to control every aspect of life, such as the pandemic, but we can choose not to be enslaved by it. As a result, we have control over how we use language, and we may use it to help humanity rather than deceive or damage others.


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