Written by Daniel Denvir, CNN
A mysterious word in Italy has cropped up in new words every year since 2014. A cooperative among 30 geographic names and their related characteristics, the New Covid variant is now celebrating its third anniversary.
The word stemmed from a meeting of representatives from the regions of Tuscany, Lazio, Lombardy, Veneto and Sardinia in the early 1990s, according to the New York Times. In one of the meetings, they were struck by a common linguistic name given to the region, Ometria . The word “auto” (morte) proved unappealing, and that prompted the creation of the name “New C.f. A.”
“Auto” is followed by two complete vowels and two consonants, that became the New Covid. Each vowel has its own phonic language. Again, many British regions have their own phonetic name, and their own types of phonetic lexicon, so Ometria and New C.f. A aren’t words at all; they are phonetic capsules of the original vowel forms. The rigid phonetic ordering produces the meaning of the name; the models follow the letter structures of the respective regions.
This also explains the inconsistencies; together, the New Covid variant and Omicron modify “l’” and “n.” In British English, “l” or “n” are pronounced the same way, with one singular vowel and a sound-matched consonant. At the same time, Omicron was actually invented first, back in 1991; the phonetic version — “os” — is set to phonetically “o” instead.
The network of researchers dedicated to the New Covid variants is now one of Europe’s largest, with an annual turnover of around 70 million euros, according to The New York Times. It works with a community of translators, who work with their specialties to produce its variations. Almost 5,000 words in 12 different different variations have appeared in Italian in the last three years. The word originated in Ontario and first appeared on the Italian use list in 2009.