Social-cultural Dynamics and Language Innovations: A Lexicology of COVID-19 Neologisms in Kiswahili

Safari Ntalala *

Department of Education, Kirinyaga University, Kenya.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, languages including Kiswahili had to adapt to a sudden influx of neologisms and scientific terms as health workers and governments strived to convey necessary advice to the public in order to contain spread of the disease. This article presents a sociolinguistic overview on social cultural dynamics and language innovations. It examines how social cultural undercurrents and society changes necessities language ingenuity to accommodate new morphological expressions, ideas and concepts. The focus is on COVID-19 neologisms in Kiswahili, their sense and usage during the coronavirus pandemic epoch as well as lexis’s re-structuring and practice in Kiswahili. The data was collected from articles, books, online Corpus and social media. Random sampling method was used in creating a corpus for analysis. The study involved establishing a list of common English terms related to COVID-19 and their equivalents in Kiswahili. The findings revealed that social-cultural dynamics impact language innovations as shown in many COVID-19 neologisms and expressions generated during the corona pandemic period in Kiswahili. The neological processes and language innovations involved include borrowing, lexical deviation, blending as well as calquering.

Keywords: COVID-19, lexicology, language innovation, neologisms, neological processes, socio-cultural dynamics

How to Cite

Ntalala, S. (2022). Social-cultural Dynamics and Language Innovations: A Lexicology of COVID-19 Neologisms in Kiswahili. Asian Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 5(3), 276–285. Retrieved from


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