‘Zumping’ or how neologisms in English help to learn the language


After a year before the Covid-19, we have transformed our behaviors in communication and education through telepresence. Immediate information and ubiquitous communication also transcend language, which is still alive, generating neologisms that appear in the press and in the daily use of its speakers.

If we asked ourselves what communication is today, we would probably answer: global, digital. And we would add that it is (tele) face-to-face. It is available 24 hours a day via the Internet. In this changing communication, new terms or neologisms originate through various linguistic procedures .

Neologisms are born from the experiences of their speakers, from the need to express new realities. Let’s consider some neologisms in English, created in 2020. An example arises when communicating a break through social networks during confinement due to the health pandemic (real context).

In the world of dating and relationships, ghosting neologisms have emerged , to end a relationship suddenly and silently, like a ghost, disappearing without any communication or zumping . Zumping , for example, combines the formula Name + Verb (N + V). It refers to the Zoom video calling application , and to dumping , a verb used to end up with someone. So zumping means breaking up with someone on Zoom.

What are the most common word combinations to form new concepts? Could neologisms bring the student closer to the English-speaking sociocultural context? Could they encourage vocabulary learning throughout life? Is a communicative learning environment essential to learning English?

Oral communication first

Learning a foreign language is demonstrated in oral communication, first, and in written communication, later. Lifelong learning facilitates access to (inter) national knowledge and its real context on an ongoing basis.

That learning, like communication, is permanent. Languages ​​are alive and in contact and they are changing. For this reason, unknown realities are presented through new morphological creations or neologisms. Learning English involves discovering and constructing clear messages with simple and compound expressions. Learning English is communicating well with the appropriate vocabulary.

NewWords (from Cambridge Dictionary) and Buzzword (from Macmillan Dictionary) register neologisms that break into society because of their use in the press and because of their frequent use in the communication of English speakers.

In 2020, the neologisms homecation (home vacation, made up of home + vacation ) and Zoomwear ( New Words ), or infodemic , a rapidly spreading deceptive information pandemic ( Buzzword ), were shelved . However, it is not just about its appearance and repeated use in communication. For a neologism to be officially accepted, it must pass through the criteria of dictionarization (high frequency of use, geographical extension of use, stability of use, formation of new words from the semantic or formal point of view, etc.).

The compound neologisms of 2020

In New Words and Buzzword are also identified neologisms compounds in 2020. The most common combinations are formed by Name + Name (N + N: Lockdown tache, Covexit …), followed by formations between Adjective + Name (Adj + N: Anti -masker, Social bubble …).

The least common are the groupings between Adj + Adj and Verb + Verb (V + V: Zoombombing or joining a video call without invitation to interrupt it), as shown in the table below. Different morphological procedures have been used for the formation of these new words. In some cases, a prefix (Pref + N) is added as in teletheraphy or online therapy. In others, suffixes are added as in Quaranteen , a term that refers to an adolescent ( teen ) confined by Covid-19. It also integrates a pronunciation game /ˈkwɒr.ən.tiːn/. This is the same pronunciation for Quaranteen and Quarantine .

Undoubtedly, the most common compound neologisms are made up of at least two terms. Some are united in a single word, Coronavision (vision problems due to lockdown or pandemic), or with a hyphen, Flexi-schooling to refer to school and home schooling. Others are separate, as with Digital nutrition . Finally, Cobot is another example made up of the Collaborative and Robot lexical expressions .

Obviously, and by way of conclusion, the reality of 2020 has been especially different also in linguistics. Last year registered a considerable number of neologisms contextualized in Covid-19.

Elbump or elbow bump ( elbow salute) was selected as the expression of the month of July ( Word of the month ) in the Oxford dictionary to represent the physical salute and, at the same time, avoid social distancing.

According to the annual report of the Oxford dictionary, it has been an unprecedented year, of enormous linguistic adaptation, which makes it difficult to even choose a word of the year , according to its frequency of use. This report distinguishes several expressions of the year 2020: bushfire , Coronavirus , lockdown , social distancing , reopening –reopening–, Black Lives Matter , Superspreader –supercontagator–, …

They are not in the dictionary but they exist

In short, neologisms, even without being registered in the dictionary, represent the current and changing reality of society. They bring the English learner closer to the English-speaking sociocultural context. Recently (May 2021), the neologism BookTokker has been registered in New Words : person who publishes videos about books and readings on TikTok. We will see more neologisms in 2021.

The use and training of neologisms in English contribute to communication and independent and permanent learning for students. They also improve the acquisition of the English language, from the lexical, grammatical and functional point of view.

Author Bio: Soraya Garcia-Sanchez is Professor of the Department of Modern Philology, Translation and Interpretation at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria