Corona glossaries: language can protect

Corona glossaries: language can protect

Communication plays a key role in times of pandemic. Health professionals and the public alike need the latest information on the virus. However, language barriers often make it difficult to access important information. Freely accessible corona glossaries are the first step in making this information widely available and tailored to target groups. This not only requires data, but also clearly defined terminology. Coordinated collaboratively and available online, corona glossaries can contribute a lot to the success of protective measures.

Understand crisis vocabulary in order to protect

Companies, authorities and associations around the world are struggling to find the right vocabulary for the crisis. In the face of a raging global pandemic, communication has to work. People have to understand hygiene rules and distance requirements. You need to be informed about the symptoms of the disease and what to do if you suspect an infection. They need to know where to get support – in the event of job loss, financial emergencies and quarantine. Without access to reliable and understandable information, non-native speakers in a society in particular run the risk of missing important steps to protect themselves and others. Corona glossaries are vital.

Corona glossaries on international platforms

The virus speaks its own language. So we have to adjust ours. Terms that are new or that become acutely relevant need suitable, uniform names – and that multilingual. There are plenty of initiatives for corona databases: The Texas Medical Center published 50 English terms with definitions on its website in March 2020. The translation agency Erikson also provides a Covid-19 glossary with the 150 most important terms in 18 languages ​​as an Excel table that can be freely downloaded. As early as May, a single blog post cited 41 sources for corona glossaries, which are constantly being expanded.

Corona databases in Germany

In Germany, media companies were initially primarily active in the field of corona terminology: Deutsche Südwestfunk with a publication of 51 German terms including contexts and Norddeutscher Rundfunk with 161 terms with synonyms. The Federal Language Office followed suit in August with the publication of a database containing 1,600 terms in seven languages. Authorities such as the RKI are also required to explain relevant terms in an easily understandable manner. There is even a corona glossary for children.

Coordinate Corona terminology collaboratively

In order for Corona glossaries to lead to correct translations that can be understood by the target group, they must be based on clearly defined terminology. The available language data collections were created in parallel and independently of one another. They do not offer any space for synthesis – and public dialogue. However, both are necessary in order to provide a really useful corona glossary. The “” project of the International University SDI Munich wants to do just that: with a worldwide freely accessible discussion portal on which a wide range of participants can vote on Corona terminology. For terminology management, the team relies on termXplorer, a web-based coordination tool with collaboration functions. TermSolutions provides the platform for this project free of charge.

Corona glossaries and projects such as, which collaboratively coordinate corona terminology, can make a decisive contribution to ensuring that our crisis communication works – and protective measures reach more members of our society.

Would you like to coordinate your company terminology collaboratively and online? Then we would be happy to introduce you to our termXplorer terminology management.