The pandemic isn’t totally over yet, but it has certainly been all over us. And it has been all over the Japanese language, too.

Almost two years into life with COVID-19, this is perhaps a good point to look back and take stock of what the linguistic 副作用 (fukusayō, side effects) have been so far.

It started with a nameless 原因不明の肺炎 (gen’in fumei no haien, pneumonia of unknown origin), as first announced in the NHK evening news on Jan. 7, 2020. The thing itself was soon to be known as the 新型コロナウイルス (shingata koronauirusu, novel coronavirus) in news reports and official documents, but shortened to just コロナ (korona) in conversation, much like it would be shortened to just COVID in English.