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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Question Social Distancing

    Hello,

    Why was social distancing called so, if it entails only physical distancing? People can be 1 meter apart and can still talk and socialize.
    That's how the terms sounds to me. But I'm a non-native speaker, so there might be another perspective from which to see this term.
    Calling it physical distancing makes more sense.

    What do you think?

    Thanks.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Social Distancing

    It had to be called something. "Physical distancing" could relate to things. "Social" implies people.
    It could have been personal distancing, personal spacing, or many other things.
    No, I don't know the real reason.

  3. Moderator
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    #3

    Re: Social Distancing

    In this context, social means "relating to people". Since the goal is to maintain a certain distance from other people, social distancing is a perfect term for the practice. Early in the pandemic I saw a number of complaints that physical distancing would be a better term. It's not; as Raymott notes, "physical distancing" says nothing about what is supposed to be distant from what.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Social Distancing

    Yes to both of the above. It's okay to socialize or be in society as long as we don't get too close.

    I've also read somewhere that the social became the word of choice in this context because, thanks to the term social media, the word is popular. It has a trendy and friendly connotation.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  5. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: Social Distancing

    Thanks all for your input.

    I see your point about not using physical distancing.
    How about corporal distancing?

    I'm not saying they should change the term, social distancing is the de facto term now, but this is only brainstorming.

    I think it is strange, that people became more prolific with social media, while keeping social distancing. That's why I think social is not the best term.

  6. VIP Member
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    #6

    Re: Social Distancing

    Corporal distancing would not work at all. Most people would have no real idea what 'corporal' meant,
    Typoman - writer of rongs

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Social Distancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Iliaa View Post
    Thanks all for your input.

    I see your point about not using physical distancing.
    How about corporal distancing?

    That would be much worse. To most people, corporal is just an army rank.


    I'm not saying they should change the term, social distancing is the de facto term now, but this is only brainstorming.

    I think it is strange, that people became more prolific with social media, while keeping social distancing. That's why I think social is not the best term.
    You're right, it's an oxymoron. But remember, native English speakers like oxymorons.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  8. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #8

    Re: Social Distancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Iliaa View Post
    How about corporal distancing?
    That sounds like not having sexual intercourse to me.

    I see your point about social media, but who seriously cannot tell the difference between Twitter and a bus queue?

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    #9

    Re: Social Distancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Iliaa View Post
    But I'm a non-native speaker, so there might be another perspective from which to see this term.

    NOT A TEACHER


    1. I have just stumbled across an article from the Guardian, a British newspaper.

    a. It explains that the term "social distancing" was coined in the 1950s by a social scientist.
    b. He meant it in the sense that the upper classes kept their distance (both literally and figuratively) from nobodies like me.

    2. When you get time, just google these words to read the short article: "Social distancing. How a 1950s phrase came to dominate 2020. The Guardian." (Excuse this computer-illiterate senior citizen [old man] for not linking to it.)

  10. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Social Distancing

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    He meant it in the sense that the upper classes kept their distance (both literally and figuratively) from nobodies like me.
    Right. That truly is social distancing, as it relates to the notion of social distance.

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