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Social Science Popular Culture


How the Language of the Pandemic Defined Our New Cultural Reality

by (author) Wayne Grady

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Popular Culture, Infectious Diseases, Social History, Lexicography
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Did you keep a list of the words coined by Covid? Wayne Grady did! They're deftly woven into a journal/timeline, taking us through two years of surrealism and limbo.—Margaret Atwood

This exploration of the many new terms of the Covid-19 pandemic provides insight into the ways an ever-evolving vocabulary helped us cope with our anxiety and adapt to a new reality

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, Wayne Grady started collecting the words and phrases that arose from our shared global experience. Some, such as "uptick" and "pivot," had existed before but now took on new meaning, and others, such as "covidivorce," "quarantini," "covexit," and "shecession," appeared for the first time, their meaning instantly clear. Through this new vocabulary, we became more able to adapt to change, to domesticate it in a sense, and to reduce our fears.

Moving from the very beginning of the pandemic (the "Before Times") and our early response to it through the peaks and troughs of the various waves in countries throughout the world, and ending with a contemplation of what the "After Times" might look like, this book takes us on a journey through the pandemic and illuminates both how this new language has unfolded and how it has changed the way we think about ourselves and each other.

About the author

Wayne Grady is the general editor of this series of literary anthologies devoted to the world's natural wonders. One of Canada's foremost popular science writers and the winner of three Science in Society awards from the Canadian Science Writers' Association, he is the author of twelve nonfiction books on such diverse adventures as hunting dinosaurs in the Gobi Desert, investigating global warming at the North Pole, and discovering the wild in an urban metropolis. His books include the bestselling Tree: A Life Story, written with David Suzuki, and Bringing Back the Dodo. His most recent book is the award-winning The Great Lakes: The Natural History of a Changing Region. He lives near Kingston, Ontario.

Wayne Grady's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Did you keep a list of the words coined by Covid? Wayne Grady did! They're deftly woven into a journal/timeline, taking us through two years of surrealism and limbo.
—Margaret Atwood

"I've been waiting for a book like this to come out and Wayne got there first. Is it jinxing things to say it's over? Maybe this is only Volume One."
—Douglas Coupland

"Pandexicon could be our first real monument to the Covid-19 years—an erudite work of memory that brings together language, history, and data so powerfully you might even experience nostalgia. In the battle over the words we used to make meaning of the pandemic, Wayne Grady emerges victorious."
— J.B. MacKinnon

“This is so much more than a lexicon or dictionary. Grady has given us a travelogue documenting our journey through the rough seas of the pandemic, examining the words we have used to talk about the contradictory cross-currents of jokes, opinions, laboratory data, heart-breaking personal anecdotes, and political rants.”
—David Waltner-Toews, author of On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases from Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus

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