Lexicon Valley

Coronavirus: Isolation and Aspiration

Can strongly aspirated consonants increase transmission of COVID-19?

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Episode Notes

Why has Japan been less affected by the global pandemic than the United States? One theory suggests that the Japanese language has weakly aspirated consonants compared with English. Which might mean that Japanese people are less likely to “spray” while speaking and therefore less likely to transmit the virus. Does that make sense? John looks at the linguistic evidence.

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo.

About the Show

If you’ve ever had curious thoughts and questions about the ways we speak, read, and write, Lexicon Valley is the show for you. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

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