Languaging in COVID19
By Ruslana A. Westerlund, Author of From Borsch to Burgers: Cross-cultural Memoir.
To be human is to language (Who said language cannot be a verb? The same person who said that like cannot be a noun?)
To language is to unite and bring people closer together through words such as “social distancing”, “separate but together”, “six feet apart”, “підтримуйте дистанцію на два метри”, “stay home”, “quedarse en su casa”, “blieben zu Hause”, “залишайтеся вдома”.
To language is to laugh and cry through “where did all the toilet paper go?”, “covidiot and Lysol” (please do not do Oxford comma between the last two words).
To language is to travel back in time, to say things like “let’s get together for coffee” and be instantly transported to your favorite table by the window in your local coffee shop.
To language is to let go of phrases that drag the whole cultural practice with it such as “excuse me, is this seat taken”, “excuse me, I’m going to sneak right past ya”, when grabbing something off the shelf two feet away because you are already six feet apart.
To language is to imagine the future where the new normal doesn’t drag with it the old normal.
To language is to mean without words by using body language to create meanings that words are too loud for in virtual meetings.
To language is to redefine “face to face” by “facetime”.
To language is to reopen again where “we are OPEN” means more than being open 9-5.
To language is to be mindful that not everyone has a family to talk to and walk with and say, “I’ll walk with you because you live alone.”
To language is to be human in times of crisis.