The Crusca sentence: why saying lockdown is wrong

Say ”lockdown” it’s correct? No, much better to use the word ”confinement“. So sentenced the Accademia della Crusca about the meaning of the term most used during the pandemic and, specifically, during the period of “social isolation”.

Because it is wrong

“‘Lockdown ‘is a full loan from the Anglo-American – explains Claudio Marazzini, linguist and president of the third term of theBran Academyreminiscent of the confinement of prisoners in their cells for an extended period of time, usually as a security measure following unrest. In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, the word ‘lockdown’ was used specifically to indicate containment measures implemented first in the Chinese province of Hubei, then in Italy, Europe and other countries affected by the pandemic. And its diffusion appeared difficult to curb also for us “.

What is the alternative?

According to the academic, the noun that best makes the sense of the term “lockdown” in Italian is “confinement”, derived from the Romance language (Latin). “In Italy nobody has been ready to provide valid alternatives to this Anglo-American term, not even the Accademia della Crusca – admits Marazzini to the microphones of AdnkronosIn hindsight, if I could rewrite history, I would say that it would be appropriate to follow the Spaniards and the French who have correctly resorted to a word that has its roots in Romance languages: ‘confinement’ “.

Where does the term lockdown come from?

The word lockdown has its roots in the Anglo-American language and, in lexicon non-specialist, it contemplates two possible variations of meaning:

1- the isolation of prisoners in their cell as a temporary security measure (in some respects comparable to the so-called hard prison); it is the original meaning that derives from the American verb lock somebody down (confine a prisoner in the cell), not to be confused with lock somebody up (or away) which is about to “lock up in prison”;

2 – emergency measures in a dangerous situation in which, for security reasons, it is temporarily prevented from entering or leaving an area or a building. The word has been recurring for years in the reports of mass shootings in the United States, where every school and public building has a lockdown protocol olockdown procedures to be followed in case of active shooter situation (shooting in progress).

Neologism Covid-19

Anglicism entered the language of common use from January 2020, when WHO announced the draconian measures implemented in China in Wuhan to contain the spread of COVID-19. The term, which received echo through the media, was officially introduced in the Neologisms section of the Vocabulary of Italian language Treccani as of May 2020.

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