Coronavirus transmission and infection rates have shown variety in different countries. Question is, why? There are many factors that can affect the rate of infection such as: climate, density, movement within the country, genetics, age distribution in the country and more. One of the factors examined in a study published in early 2021 is the verbal speech factor. Can the language spoken in different countries, that is, the degree of use of different consonants and the aspiration (inhalation and exhalation) when making those sounds, be a factor that explains the different levels of infection and morbidity between countries?
Studies have shown that the number of droplets produced by respiration is much more common in the air than any other droplets. Coughing also produces many droplets exhaled at once, yet coughing occurs less frequently than speaking and breathing. In addition, the World Health Organization has reported that a third of people infected with COVID-19 do not suffer from a cough at all, so it is far more likely that the mechanism of infection is largely based on droplet emissions that contain virus particles through speech or respiration.
The researchers created a database that contains all the vowels, consonants and movements in common languages. They also sorted them into types of sounds like the strength of puff when speaking, aspiration, throated consonants or those that are produced on the tongue or lips. Based on the fact that the mechanism of infection of the Coronavirus is droplets, and is therefore emitted by breathing or speech, one can expect a difference between the consonants such as B, D, C, P, T that produce droplets versus other vowels and consonants. The study was based on the daily vocabulary in different countries with different morbidity levels, and whose linguistic repertoire includes a language spoken extensively in the daily communication of individuals.
The results, surprisingly, did not show a significant effect of aspiration (inhaling and exhaling) for the different languages when compared for infection levels .For Morbidity levels, a positive correlation was found for the consonant / p / p pronounced as in the word Power or Pent. This may indicate that languages that use / p / frequently may spread the virus more easily.
As mentioned, there are many factors that can affect infection rates and many more studies are needed to create a clearer picture and account for the difference in morbidity in different peoples and countries.