Occasionalisms in Social Networks During the Pandemic

Keywords: occasionalisms, COVID-19 pandemic, nonce words, word-formation, social nets, language of the internet, word coinage


Background: This study explores and analyses occasionalisms that were created by social network users during the COVID-19 pandemic. The theoretical framework of this research is based on observing the concepts of occasionalism, neologism and nonce word. 

Purpose: To indicate occasionalisms in the Russian and English languages and compare them in terms of word-formation, frequencies, part of speech and meanings, thus making a contribution to the understanding of how occasionalisms emerge in these languages.

Method: A qualitative and quantitative content analyses are used for data collection. The sample is obtained from different social networks (‘Facebook[1]’, ‘Twitter[2]’, ‘Reddit’ and ‘VK’). Results: Occasionalisms are created mostly through blending, compounding, and affixation. Mixed word-formation methods are also used. The most used parts of speech appear to be nouns and adjectives. The most Russian occasionalisms are ironic, expressive and attract attention, while English occasionalisms are not that expressive as they refer to medical or political concepts. Borrowings from English in the Russian occasionalisms are also indicated. The glossary of 106 occasionalisms in the Russian and English languages is introduced at the end of the study.

Conclusion: The results might expand the knowledge of new vocabulary items in the field of lexicology and stylistics, and have practical implications in language teaching and translations, as occasionalisms may frequently create obstacles for foreign language students and translators. They also may serve as a basis for further studies on neologisms, occasionalisms and nonce words generated during the pandemic and cover the gap in comparative studies of the Russian and English occasionalisms. In addition, the obtained results might be beneficial for future research in sociolinguistics and sociocultural linguistics providing greater awareness of the linguistic and sociocultural factors that impact the adoption and use of occasionalisms in both languages.


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Author Biography

Elena Gabrielova, HSE University, Moscow, Russian Federation

English Language Department for Economic and Mathematical Disciplines

How to Cite
GabrielovaE., & LopatinaV. (2023). Occasionalisms in Social Networks During the Pandemic. Journal of Language and Education, 9(4), 46-60. https://doi.org/10.17323/jle.2023.15946