Coronavirus in Italy: 29 March 2020

This is a continuation of Andrew’s experience of Coronavirus in Italy, supposedly only a couple of weeks ahead of us.  We need to learn from this:

“Quarantine Day Number……… I have lost track.  First day of daylight-saving time…..but who cares?

I love words, they travel throughout history and countries, their evolution allows you to trace the story of humanity; words change with people, foreign words slide under the carapace of the mother language, and morph in to the spoken language, and later into grammar.  During the last 500 years, at least, Latin, Italian, French and Spanish took turns to lend verbal expressions to the other nations: today it is English (American English most likely) to take its revenge.

I love wordplays, because they denote how brilliant the human brain can be, when it disregards the ordinary meaning of words, and plunges deeper under the surface, plays with the letters, the sounds and maybe more, with the visual aspect of words and phrases.  What I don’t appreciate, is when playing with words means an attempt to fool or mock you; can’t avoid thinking about how the media behave with words and emotions, in order to attract the attention of people (and sponsors).  In this period of Coronavirus, we see this: fake news happily travels through chain letters (“Coronavirus can be cured with vitamin C and D”), conspiracy theories claim to explain why this virus spread (“It’s China that wants to break the economy of the whole world”) and how things all began (“Virus developed in China in 2015, in a laboratory that eventually lost control of it”).  But we all know the origins of Coronavirus are natural.  Panic is induced on purpose; this is a crime, and too often, it causes police and health workers to have to waste their time, having to deal simply with the fear of people.

The three tea towels all have something to do with words.  The one with the hen plays with the verbal expression, notice the two ‘O’s depicted as eggs: it could be chosen as best representation of the current lockdown moment.  I bought the Scottish tea towel because I’m interested in languages and dialects, in the dialects of regions, districts, towns, hamlets and so on.  During my university period, I attended courses about the evolution of idioms.  Mind you….. I must admit a personal thought.  When I was in Liverpool (January 2020), the woman on the reception desk at my hotel spoke to me  in a very strong Scouse accent, and I was a foreigner with low-level knowledge of standard English.  I had to ask her more than once to repeat what she was saying.  I only hope she didn’t think I was being deliberately difficult.

Words are traditionally stored in books, the ‘Notice’ tea towel from Manchester Central Library, straightforward as it is, gives us a 19th century insight of respect and love for the items it preserved”.

Thank you, Andrew for cheering me up in a weird time.  ‘Weird’ seems to be a word I am using a lot, at the time of Coronavirus.

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