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Delectus - Scientific Journal, Inicc-Perú - [ISSN: 2663-1148]




Vol. 5 No. 1 (2022): January-June [Editing deadline: 01/01/2022]

RECEIVED: 06/09/2021 | ACCEPTED: 06/10/2021 | PUBLISHED: 01/01/2022

Suggested quote (APA, seventh edition)

Jaén, F. E. (2022). Linguistic orality in COVID-19 times. A theoretical contribution to formal discourse. Delectus, 5(1), 12-19.

Linguistic orality in COVID-19 times. A theoretical contribution to formal discourse

Franklin E. JaÉn

Universidad de Panamá, Panamá.

The purpose is to analyze linguistic orality in times of pandemic and the theoretical contribution underlying formal discourse. The qualitative approach is considered, type of documentary theoretical research, supported by a bibliographic design of analytical and interpretative character. The data collection techniques and instruments used are documentary observation, content analysis and a registration matrix of the secondary information sources reviewed. As final considerations, the impact of the current sanitary crisis has generated those terms such as covid-19, coronavirus, confinement, or Coronavirus Molecular Test (CMT) are part of a covidic language of daily use, making the language adapt to the new lexical panorama. On the other hand, the characterization and importation into Spanish of words from other languages, the transfer of terms from specialized languages to everyday use, the creation of new words with ironic motivation, as well as the exacerbated technicism of common use.

Keywords: orality, linguistics, pandemic, paradigmatic interpretation, formal organization.

Orality corresponds to the process of communication whether verbal, vocal or corporal/non-verbal, between two or more interlocutors present in the same space. Arnoux Puentes (2015) points out that among the factors that characterize it are:

The linguistic, referring to clear articulation, the precise use of words and the correct construction of sentences. The extralinguistic, indicating intonation, cadence, rhythm, pauses and voice volume. Discursive, which is oriented to the construction of the discourse according to an intention. Socio-linguistic, which frames the knowledge of the cultural context in which the verbal fact is produced, and cultural, which refers to the general and understanding of the subject matter (p. 22).

In this way, it represents a symbolic system of expression, that is, an act of meaning directed between humans of interest for life in society, in its different scenarios, formal and informal. Therefore, it is considered an efficient means of communication that facilitates socialization and the transmission of knowledge, among others.

In a study developed by Barrios Cuevas (2016) called "Language and communication in the twentieth century", indicates that the transmission of the spheres of knowledge is given in a high percentage orally. Hence, the basic and fundamental social function of this consists of enabling social relations. However, despite the above, the author emphasizes that writing is the most prestigious system of expression, without taking into account that the concepts of orality and writing only refer to two different modes of language production, each with its own characteristics and, above all, its own rules of operation.

When referring to orality and discusive planning Ferrari Muss (2016), in his research entitled "The richness of the multi-focus of linguistics in oral language", points out that spoken language is spontaneous and instantaneous, considering conversation as the most natural form of orality, finding in this rules that guide its discursive coherence from the grammatical imbrication. It is interpreted that orality acquires different nuances in its formal discourse depending on the scenario in which it is developed. Therefore, its prototypical genres can be used in academic, media, political and judicial, business, religious, among others.

In consideration, Bolívar Acosta (2017) refers in "A theoretical approach to communicational linguistics in postmodernity" that the general characteristics of formal orality are the contextual, discursive and linguistic features that prevail in the communicational system that is generated, which will be impacted by the various manifestations in the social and cultural that play a fundamental role in the construction of identities.

Understanding the social communicational character of orality and the relevance of discourse according to the context, the impact that COVID-19 has generated on it currently becomes important. Adames Ponce (2020) points out:

The pandemic has left everyone bewildered. The cultural change that has taken place in communication and ways of speaking has affected people all over the world. And that means that new words have been added to everyday language, which were previously only used in a professional and technical context (p.45).

This is how words, until now unknown to the vast majority, have managed to make the record of conversations, as a representative medium of orality, go from being colloquial to formal. Similarly, Puertas Nance (2020) states that:

Orality was a challenge before the pandemic; the arrival of the coronavirus crisis has made it even more complicated. It coexists between webinars, online classes, work meetings, doctoral presentations, videoconferences, or any type of meeting. All these events are held, with the impersonality that this entails (p.77).

Therefore, both the language and the media through which communication is generated in this pandemic, they have wanted to develop from the formal linguistic heterogeneity an orality of unification of criteria to approach a correct terminology of collective use. As an example of this, Velandria Martínez (2020) states:

The disease caused by the pandemic has been labeled as COVID-19 and is known to be induced by the COVID-19-associated coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, from the English acronym SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome), in order to differentiate it from SARS-CoV, identified some seventeen years ago (p.12).

As referred to by the author, as an example, there is no doubt that in orality, the use of language and terminology deserve a place and reflection, since not only a new social discourse has been generated, but in some cases, because of the speed at which the message is produced by the interlocutors, the so-called oral vices have developed. These are defined as the inadequate use of the lexicon or the incorrect construction of phrases and sentences that hinder the interpretation of the message (Terrado Herrera, 2020, p.12).

From this worldview, the interest and purpose of this study arises in analyzing linguistic orality in COVID-19 times and the theoretical contribution underlying formal discourse. Understanding that the critical look of the study is oriented to understand the challenges that words have as undeniable power and impact on humanity and its environment, being basic in the construction of a successful communication.

This research uses the qualitative paradigm, the type of documentary research, according to what is referred to by Arias Lozano (2016) corresponds with "a strategy of understanding and analysis of theoretical realities through the review of different documentary sources, through a systematic and organized approach" (p.23). Therefore, the design assumes a bibliographic character, dealing with the review through physical and electronic documentary sources.

The research procedure follows the scheme proposed by Véliz Ancón (2016, p.77) for documentary studies, carried out according to the following steps:

  • Location and survey of bibliographic and documentary sources: texts, forums, seminars, scientific review articles, among others, that would allow obtaining relevant information on the object of study.
  • Selection of appropriate sources to collect relevant data.
  • Validation of the selected sources.
  • Detailed reading of the selected sources, related to the events under study.
  • Location and filing of relevant material.
  • Codification and systematization of the selected information with the registration of this in the analysis according to its contents.
  • Writing and construction of the theoretical aspects that describe and explain the events.
  • Establishment and description of the categories of the events under study for which it is intended to identify relationships.
  • Analysis of the data provided in relation to the events under study, through the classification and description of these events.
  • Generation of the conclusions and final considerations of the research dissertation.

Within the specific stages of the process, the systematization and integration of the data is subsequently carried out, in order to finally triangulate them and generate the corresponding organization of the documentary research product. In this way, it is understood that for the extraction/collection of the literature, the objectives, the theoretical basis, and the main results presented in the identified research were analyzed, taking only the contributions pertinent to the objective of this research. From the analysis of the authors consulted, the theoretical construct that supports the study is developed.

Regarding data collection, the bibliographic search was conducted during the months of January 2020 to May 2021, accessing through the Internet to the literature collected in search engines such as Google and Google Scholar, using the bibliotechnological thesauri in the area of linguistics and orality.

It should be noted that filters were used, obtaining a total of 30 documents. After reading the summary of these, 15 were pre-selected. Subsequently, a detailed reading was carried out and the articles and papers were selected and reviewed through the critical reading grid CASPe (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Spanish) (Véliz Ancón, 2016). Finally, the number of sources analyzed was 11.
About the inclusion criteria:

  • Language: Spanish and English.
  • Timing: 2016-2020.
  • Complete and free open access.
  • All types of articles contributed by the databases previously described protocols, articles, theses on the subject.

Exclusion criteria:

  • The documentary material does not conform to the inclusion criteria already described above.

The techniques used are documentary observation, summary presentation of the text and analytical summary. As instruments: files; computers and their storage units, tables of records and classification of categories; as well as the analysis matrix. The following information processing techniques were used: content analysis and the hermeneutic-dialectic circle of Lincoln and Guba.

From the documents consulted to determine the theoretical status that would allow us to respond to the purpose of the study, these were classified in a chronological sequence, configuring the analysis matrix with four (4) categories:

COVID-19 and orality

From the references consulted, it was possible to concretize in the analysis that:

Orality, from the point of view of different theorists, considers not only the linguistic, supralinguistic and paralinguistic elements related, jointly, with the objective of communication and the intention of the speaker when expressing himself; but also, the socio-linguistic aspect, making mention of the contextual. Therefore, the message is understood to the extent that the listener shares a series of social representations that allow him/her to access the context and the set of linguistic assumptions that he/she handles at the time of oral interaction, in this case with the pandemic situation and the referents that are part of it (Barrios Cuevas, 2016, p.77).

The holistic context of meanings, linked to COVID-19, that support orality underlies in understanding the scenarios from where the process is subscribed, be it social or human. The challenges are oriented to understand that the colloquial and everyday language, which has been filled with specialized terminology, becomes formal as a practice in which the discursive reality is inscribed in the social and cultural contexts. The acceptance of technicality as a feature to respond to linguistic diversity. All this involves expanding the development of pragmatic and sociocultural conventions involved in global and technologized contexts (Corrado Atanacio, 2017, p.42).

Orality conceives a context defined by extra-linguistic parameters that immediately condition the discursive activity, identified as production situation: it includes the elements of the enunciator, the addressee, and the objective of the discourse to refer to a discursive context. Reception situation: this is the space in which the discourse is processed by the addressee, taking into consideration the receiver's own elements with which he/she decides to interpret the message. This is referred to as context of use or situation. Interaction situation: represented as the zone of cooperation where social communication takes place, in which everyone adopts a certain role defined by the type of connectivity in which he/she participates and the understanding of the pandemic (Ferrari Montiel, 2016, p.12).

The discursive construction in the face of COVID-19

Terminologies of almost exclusive use limited to medical-health fields, until now unknown to the vast majority, have managed to become part of the record of conversations in people's daily lives (Arnoux Puentes, 2015, p.33). Examples:

Conversation by Whatsapp:

“Since the alarm situation was declared due to the coronavirus outbreak, I do not leave home without my mask, my gloves and my hydroalcoholic gel with social distancing.”

TV news section:

“According to WHO, the incubation period can be as long as 24 days, during which there is a high risk of community spread due to the pathogenic action of the virus”.

The analysis of the examples shows how these statements, which at first glance would fit in an informal communicative context between friends or colleagues, acquire a more formal and rigorous tone, simply by the fact of using these new words. A whole lexicon that has become an absolute trend in conversations, the media and social networks. There is no longer talk of keeping one's distance, but of social distancing to avoid person-to-person community propagation.

“...We are in a state of public health emergency in the face of a pandemic outbreak, the government indicated."

It does not say that "...the government has decreed a state of alarm”.

"We need to flatten the contagion curve..."

The term curve, which until now was used in contexts such as curves in the road, now acquires another connotation.

Use of euphemisms and formalities:

Substitution of words of everyday and frequent use (Adames Ponce, 2020, p.23). Examples:

Denomination of doctors, nurses and assistants, by health personnel. Their bosses are the health authorities. Refer to the World Health Organization by its acronym, WHO.

You are not locked indoors but confined. A mask and gloves are now protection kits or PPE. In addition, you no longer have aches, pains, coughs, or a feeling of being short of breath. Now you have symptoms, aches, or respiratory insufficiency. If, on the other hand, you have not developed any of these ailments, then you are considered asymptomatic.

Words and inventions:

Neologisms incorporated that expand the novel repertoire of COVID19 terminology.

Covididiot, referring to the one who ignores protocols, does not respect the rules and breaks the isolation, collaborating with the spread of the virus.

Covidarticles and Coviprices. Buy during the week Covidprices and save 19% on all Covidarticles.

Covidmode, when someone decides to spend the weekend quietly and without leaving home.

It is considered that an academic imperative and technicality of areas of knowledge, it was transferred to social orality, in which apart from enjoying the specific knowledge, reinforces and holds the power of the word, which allows sharing knowledge. And in the linguistic context, to make oral communication a pertinent instrument and a tool of action amplitude.

The challenge translates into attending more and more to the modes of participation within the field of linguistics and orality, attending to ask and give answers to the following questions: Are these new words used correctly? Does the common citizen know their meaning? Consequently, only if their exact meaning is known will the appropriate use be made within batteries of terms in the oral context of the pandemic.

From another line of thought, it is indicated that another great challenge presented in orality in pandemic and its link with discourse derives from the double commitment with the advances of this discipline and the changes in society. On the one hand, it is essential to adapt to technologies and enter decisively into transdisciplinarity and; other, it is necessary to articulate theory with practice to improve the explanation of meanings in social dynamics. The challenge remains the confrontation of paradigms, from an epistemological debate that must be faced in a direct way to describe orality in dynamic contexts and linked to social interaction (Malavè Enrìquez, 2015, p.18).

Knowing human oral discourse as a creator of realities and vehicle of social and ideological meanings in order to consider its value in social coexistence. For this, the biggest challenge is to redefine its objective, method and object, since as a consequence of interdisciplinary approaches, often, it is lost sight of what is purely linguistic (Ponte Villareal, 2016, p.34).

Oral vices and COVID-19

The rootedness in oral communication of a discourse with prevalence of linguistic diction vices that generates the use of inappropriate vocabulary is emphasized (D'Sousa Carmet, 2015, p.23), such as:

The goal is to have no more deaths.
The number of cases has tripled.
There will continue to be contagions.
If there were new cases, other strategies would be considered.
Healthcare workers can be seen on the hospital staircase.
There are still measures to be taken.
One out of every three cases of infection occur in the family environment.
30,000 people will be tested.

Presence of vulgarisms, defined as the unnecessary construction of words or alteration of their semantic meaning. Examples: Who induced him not to follow the quarantine? for Who induced him not to comply with the quarantine? (Ponte Villareal, 2016, p.56).

Use of cacophony, indicated as the unpleasant sound produced by the encounter or repetition of the same syllables within a sentence. Examples: drink ginger tea and you will be relieved (Puertas Nance, 2020, p.54).

Redundancy, vicious pleonasm that consists of using unnecessary words, which only repeat ideas already expressed. Example: It is necessary to clean surfaces and clothes with the cleaner. These situations condition oral communication, making it a challenge to overcome lexical poverty (D'Sousa Carmet, 2015, p.23).

In this way, the coronavirus has generated unpredictable consequences in the field of linguistic orality in the so-called Covid-19 language. Rapidly expanding, the pandemic and, in its corollary, it has configured its own semantic field, imposing a lexicon in all the languages of the planet, including that of indigenous people.

Based on the results and the stated objective, as conclusions, it is necessary to initially understand linguistic orality, ceasing to consider language as the only and true object of oral communication, but to understand it integrated in real contexts, as in the case of the pandemic (D'Sousa Carmet, 2015, p.23). Therefore, orality turns out to be cumulative, abundant and redundant, conservative, participant and situational; that is, it is not abstract, it is always present at the moment it is needed.

Consequently, since the pandemic began, an orality began to be configured from a repertoire of specialized terms, expressions and terminologies that became vulgarized and became fashionable. This is articulated with what Adames Ponce (2020) pointed out, when he affirms that what is exceptional in the pandemic language has been the vulgarization of the scientific language that was incorporated in all the languages of the world. This has given rise to a series of expressions with which society, in its daily orality, has become familiar. A semantic corollary with a wide lexicon.

Likewise, a complex situation is analyzed by Puertas Nance (2020) who emphasizes the use of orality and the social context in which the new forms of speech are produced. He highlights the prevalence of three lexical creation phenomena that have prevailed: the importation into Spanish of words from other languages, mainly English, the transfer of terms from specialized languages to common ones, such as PCR or antigens, and the creation of new words with an ironic motivation, such as “cuarenpena” or covididiot.

Regarding technical terms, authors such as Adames Ponce (2020), Terrado Herrera (2020) and Velandria Martínez (2020), explain that there are new words or meanings, such as confine, which may remain after the virus. In other cases, there are creations that are merely passing phenomena, such as “coronabonos”, which will disappear, since they respond to the needs of the moment.

Linguistic orality in times of COVID-19, language is dynamic and it is constantly being updated. On the other hand, there are external factors that condition linguistic change, one of which is the social environment. In this sense, language reflects the thoughts of the speakers, understanding that in the discourse, the lexical component is the most notorious, being constantly updated, according to the speaker and the situation of the existing daily life. Understanding that the pandemic has caused a cultural change that has affected orality and communication at a global level, together with social dynamism, since language is also the way in which society and relationships with people are defined.

Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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