Influence of COVID-19 on the Lexical Features of English in Pakistan

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Hafiz Nauman Ahmed
Muhammad Islam

Abstract

The study presents a corpus-based analysis of the influence of COVID-19 on the lexical features of English in Pakistan. News on Web Corpus (NOW), managed by English-Corpora.org, formerly known as BYU Corpora, with a specification of English language used in web news of more than 70 websites form Pakistan, was used data analysis. The section of the corpus of English in Pakistan news on the web contains approximately more than one billion words. The usage of 58 keywords, including the top 20 collocated words given by Oxford Dictionary (OED, 2020a), following COVID-19, from 2017 to 2019, was compared to 2020 till June 17, 2020. The analysis shows an exponential rise in the use of some new words and acronyms (e.g., self-quarantine, nCoV, and SARS). Many words that existed previously were used in media discourses to a great extent after COVID-19 (e.g., self-isolation, social-distancing, pandemic, and virus). Moreover, the trends in using such words are different in Pakistan from the trends in the other part of the World. The findings of the study may be used to expand the existing knowledge about language change, viewing coronavirus pandemic (and similar events) on the wheels of technology as another possible socio-psychological factor of language change.

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