Mediating Functionality of Semantic and Cognitive Components of COVID-19 Terminological System in the Process of Thematic Framing
Mediating Functionality of Semantic and Cognitive Components of COVID-19 Terminological System in the Process of Thematic Framing
The article presents the results of comparative corpus-based research of Russian and English media texts collected during COVID-19 pandemic waves (2020-2021). The research is aimed at the analysis of semantic and cognitive components of COVID-19 terminological system. Taking into account the leading role of lexical means in the development of the structural and schematic foundation of cognitive activity, an attempt was made to identify and describe the composition and content of terminological constructs that nominate conceptual categories in the process of their comprehension, reflected in communicative and discursive practice. Based on the frequency analysis of terminological co-occurrences, core terminological units that predetermine the logical and thematic composition of COVID-19 thematic frame were identified. The analysis of differential and integral semantic features and the fixation of temporal changes associated with the occasional variability of the meaning components of core lexemes were carried out.
In cognitive paradigm frame is one of key concepts that underlies the design of experimentation aimed at analyzing information processing in human beings including perception, storage and subsequent data retrieval . Frame is a mental construct organized according to the principles of higher mental functioning. Related to the world of objects, it is a secondary category that reflects a set of relevant meta-objective aspects and connections that are accentuated due to some substantial reasons by a convention, thus, becoming essentially both socially and individually. Frame is formed under the influence of pragmatic motives that predetermine the course of mutual activity and is viewed as an anticipatory model of creating an image of a commonly significant object, concept or situation .
The sphere of our interest includes those aspects of frame representation that are connected with linguistic patterns of manifesting the results of cognitive activity, i.e. we consider frames to be complex cognitive ensembles mediated by the natural language. It should be noted that the mediating role of language has always been the focus of Soviet and Russian psychology that attempted to explain the origin of human consciousness: "with the appearance of language as a system of codes denoting objects, actions, qualities, relations, a person obtains a new dimension of mentality, he creates subjective images of the objective world available for control, in other words, representations, which he can manipulate even in the absence of visual tangible perceptions" .
Together with that, the cognitive foundations of linguistic ability reflected in semantic meaning viewed as the unit of thought have become the subject matter for cognitive linguistics. The ways of structuring the image of extra-linguistic reality play here the main role, and the analysis of signifying means from the descriptive or nomenclature angle appears to be non-indicative if isolated from discursive practices of their live functioning.
Based on the importance of considering the contribution of lexical means from the point of their functionality, cognitive reflection of significant reality-based aspects, the results of which are incorporated into all levels of the language systems, should be redefined as the process of gradual modelling of reality via naming caused by certain cognitive mechanisms. Central to our study is the mechanism of schematization. Traditionally, schema is seen as the result of mediated retention of information units.
In cognitive linguistics, schema is directly related to the notion of thematic framing. Thematic frame is a compound structure that is formed in the process of cognition to be unfolded in subsequent interaction for the sake of time compression. It is a stereotyped verbalized hierarchical ensemble mediated by linguistic means and extralinguistic categories associated with them. Each particular meaning of the nominating units reflects both the corresponding conceptual representation and the particular knowledge connected with the referent being named, as well as the way of accumulating the knowledge in human consciousness .
Thematic frame is defined as "the restriction of the domain of special knowledge, i.e. the referential domain, the restriction of participants of special communication, the restriction or purposeful selection of language means necessary to optimize communication in the corresponding domain" and is regarded as a functional cognitive model that aims at rapid analysis of knowledge about stereotypical events and situations, carried out with the help of natural language means.
Many linguists emphasize the dynamism and variability of thematic frames: when new information is presented, the entire life experience is involved in the process of its perception and comprehension, so it unfolds divergently: general or hyper-frames are first in a row, then more specific structures or subframes are engaged. The existing lacunae may thus be filled in through novel cognizing or communicative acts. To sum it all up, thematic frames demonstrate “individual experience of readiness to operate a set of versatile prior experience products within the framework of natural and artificial semiosis” . The process of thematic framing is related to all previous cognitive experience and depends on the degree of thematic awareness, which is based, among other things, on practical application of special terminological tools that create the background for specialised thematic frame structuring. According to V. Karasik, a frame is "a gestalt in its dynamics, structure and connection with other gestalts" .
The analysis of atypical situations and ambivalent data confirms the fact that schemas or frames are formed procedurally and heterogeneously. Frames are highly susceptible to the influence of situationally significant factors that set the basis for their recomposition and transformation. Internalization as the general principle of complex mental acquisition of mediating tools is characteristic of thematic framing that is based on external means mastering and further application. It is assumed that profound research into the systemic structure of discursively acquired tool-sets tailored to extra-linguistic influences, which is carried out in retrospection and reconstructed developmentally, gives opportunity for theoretical re-establishment of thematic framing.
To reveal thematic framing mechanism and its contribution to novel phenomenon cognition, the purpose of our study was to analyze the modelling potential of COVID-19 terminological system through its discursive functioning. COVID-19 pandemic is unusual in terms of global social unpreparedness to face and comprehend unfamiliar realities. The spontaneity of its onset, compared to a catastrophic event, provides us with a unique contextual space where thematic framing occurs in parallel with the attempts to cognize the essence and to determine the features of COVID-19 phenomenon, and where cognitive flexibility and mobility of pandemic stadial perception sets up the basis for effective mental functioning in the situation of uncertainty. As a result, we assume that the dynamism of thematic framing shaped by the occasional recomposition of terminological tools should be analyzed longitudinally. The research period covers pandemic waves of 2020-2021 and is divided into shorter temporal stages.
2. Research methods and principles
The above-mentioned assumptions presupposed the framework for our study that reconsiders the definition of a terminological unit as a marking tool of reflecting a socially relevant part of the cognitive conceptual field, being supplemented with a dynamic component. COVID-19 terminological system is, thus, described in terms of its gradual formation and transformation through cognitive activity performed socially and individually and revealed in discourse . Semantic changes that may be spotted at the level of terminological lexicons contradict the idea of the fixed meaning of its units. This enables to carry out the analysis of the ways and mechanisms by which terminological system componential reconstruction occurs and manifests in the occasionality of a contextual field.
The aim of our research was to analyze the features of the functional-semantic surrounding of the key term COVID-19 that predetermines the uniqueness of the global communicative and discursive field. The term COVID-19 is characterized by conventional retention and invariable explicit form and is considered a basic structural unit and a systemic element of a complex dynamic terminological system.
The logics of structural and compositional analysis of COVID-19 terminological system that is predetermined by the properties of its key systemic element corresponds with the task of identifying the materialized foundation for thematic framing, while detecting semantic changes that accompany COVID-19 terminological system functioning specifies descriptors of COVID-19 thematic framework, characteristic for the periods under investigation .
Taking into account the significance of basic cognitive mechanisms contributing to thematic framing implementation and their meta-linguistic specificity that is reflected in lexicon, namely, in terminological means viewed as linguistic repositories for domain-dependent cognitive outcomes, the material for the study is a set of Russian and English media texts, that are sensitive to short-term socially significant fluctuations in local information agenda. Media discourse is toughly connected with pandemic social representation and COVID-19 mass awareness development, presumably dependent on the unique features of the chosen linguocultural communities.
Using the combination of automatized data collection methods and parsing Python algorithms, news articles from official media sources were selected by the keyword COVID-19. Due to preliminary pre-processing procedures performed for text arrays, the data markup for parallel corpora thematic tagging was based on morphological distinction of nominative categories, action models, attributive characteristics and modifying qualities. Collocation tagging was carried out subsequently. Machine-based frequency analysis of lexemic contextual occurrence with the following manual content analysis of nuclear and peripheral collocative sequences, comparative analysis of Russian and English correlates, component analysis of semantic composition aimed at describing content structural changes in top-frequency categories, and structural frame analysis were conducted.
The sample included glossaries from official news sources of the Russian Federation, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada and international websites such as the World Health Organization (WHO), for a total of 716 items. Media texts from official news sources covering the period of 2020-2021 were selected from online media available for automatized uploading, for a total of 2,047 text items in Russian and 2013 items in English.
3. Main results
When substantiating the concept of schema or frame, researchers do not always pay attention to the activity-based nature of framing. The analysis of the discursive field representing pandemic topical issues confirmed the spontaneity of their emergence at the beginning of 2020, where the manifestation of lexical thematic group Coronavirus and the disease it causes, including such terms as SARS-COV-2, COVID-19, COVID, covid, coronavirus, corona, коронавирус, ковид, корона shows the increase in occurrence frequencies by 95% compared to the previous periods of 2019 and before confirmed by online statistic metrics in n-gam viewers. The situation of uncertainty provides a diffused basis for COVID-19 conceptual construct formation viewed through the mental mechanisms of cognizing the novel reality through mastering the purposefully provided framing means that appear in official and public discourse. Considering framing as deliberate activity initially carried out in the materialized form, we emphasize the potential of terminological means of schematic modeling to arrange COVID-19 conceptualized mental framework and underline their heterogeneity, disparity, social conditionality and motive-based pragmatics.
COVID-19 thematic frame is thus seen as a projection of socially, pragmatically, psychologically and cognitively meaningful parameters onto the acquired nominated categories which is reflected through COVID-19 terminological system temporal composition.
As the results of frequency and content analysis have demonstrated, at the initial stage, when the term COVID-19 was conventionally introduced into the signifying discursive realm, the core lexical structure incorporated terminological units that are clustered around symptomatic manifestations of COVID-19. These are primarily lexical-semantic groups connected with the description of the disease onset, namely typical symptoms of an acute viral infection. Along with that, the semantic core includes terms associated with atypical symptomatic manifestations that bring about such semic components as respiratory, connected with breathing, unpredictable, and untreatable. The integral semantic features exhibit a certain affective attitude to the virus that manifests in lexemes with particular attributive components: being dangerous, fearful, threatening and lethal.
COVID-19 thematic frame structure of the mid-2020 can be schematically represented as follows (Figure 1.):
Figure 1 - COVID-19 thematic frame (mid-2020)
COVID-19 hyper-frame includes the descriptors of the virus and disease relevant to its lexical differentiation. These include such attributes as novel, new, contagious, asymptomatic, acute, новый, бессимптомный, острый, заразный, инфекционный. More descriptive characteristics of the hyper-frame are related to the viral forms and are represented by such terms as: мутация, спайк-белок, новый вариант, китайский вирус, Уханьский вирус, Британский штамм (вариант Альфа, Альфа-коронавирус) Alpha strain, Beta variant, strain severty, subvariant. The Russian-speaking corpus is characterised by the presence of adjectives derived from proper nouns denoting countries. This contributes to the development of a stereotypical associative links to COVID-19 national adherence, which leads to stigmatizing affiliated national groups. Semic component of stigma arranges the lexical conglomerate of COVID-19 hyper-frame on the basis of both threatening and protective qualities that are intrinsically connected with foreign intervention and need for consolidating and defense.
Highlighting subordinate frames (or sub-frames) of a hyper-frame gives a clear idea of the conceptual apparatus on which the variety of complex semantic relationships are based.
Thematic composition of the subordinate frame Symptoms is the most unified within the research corpora, which is confirmed by the comparative analysis of Russian and English terminological groups included in the core structure. The lexico-semantic groups of the sub-frame consist mainly of medical terminology, the occurrence of which is the result of both: the COVID-19 domain attribution and the natural need for credible assessment of its potential impact. Frequency and subsequent content analysis revealed the presence of three main groups of nouns in the thematic sub-frame: simple nouns denoting typical symptomatology of acute respiratory disease (cough, temperature, pain) noun groups denoting atypical symptoms associated with COVID-19 (loss of smell, absence of taste, difficulty in breathing) and Latin borrowings characteristic of distorted states or physiological processes (myalgia, augesia, anosomia). The presence of single-word medical terms is 30% higher in the English corpus, than in the Russian corpus, where composite descriptive composites (N+N) are found 40% more frequently and coincide with a less professionally medicalized and more publicly oriented discourse layout.
Thematic sub-frame Prevention is divided into:
1. Basic hygene: профилактика, санитарная дисциплина, гигиена, гигиена органов дыхания, гигиена рук, мытье рук, дезинфекция рук, продезинфицировать руки, cough etiquette, respiratory hygiene, handwashing, wash matters, prevention, safety measures, safety tips;
2. Individual measures: средства индивидуальной защиты, СИЗ, маска, респиратор, перчатки, защитный экран, пневмошлем, защитный костюм, защитный комбинезон, противочумный халат, водонепроницаемый фартук, санитайзер, дезинфектор, антисептик (filtering face piece, respirator, N95, facemask, cloth mask, hand sanitizer);
3. Social preventive measures: воздушно-капельная передача, меры предотвращения заражения, обязательный осмотр, тестирование при выезде за границу, пограничный контроль, меры предотвращения контактной передачи transmission-based precautions, entry control. This thematic sub-frame actualizes cognitive scenarios of public and individual responsibility, preliminary preparedness to face the virus, protective equipment application instructions and directions that is revealed in lexicon. The lexical composition of the sub-frame is based on verbal nouns and adjectives associated with specific functional properties and ways of facility implementation. Both in the English and in the Russian corpus there are approximately 7% of complex nouns consisting of two bases, each of which connect functional characteristics of the signified objects related to prevention.
The spontaneity of data contextual emergence and, consequently, lexical framing potential result in a sporadic structure of frame ensembles, which are characterized by diffusion and heterogeneity. The thematic subframes are interdependent due to the blurred boundaries of terminology occurrence and a variety of occasional collocative sequences and contextual variations. The thematic sub-frame Treatment is closely related to the sub-frames of Symptoms and reveals 45% of lexical overlapping correlates. The basis for segregation of subordinate frames within Treatment subframe is the dichotomy: asymptomatic course – course of severe or critical coronavirus disease associated with atypical symptomatology. The thematic subframe Hospitalization is related to the subframe Life-threatening Symptoms and is subdivided into the following subframes:
1. Severity of the course and characteristics of the treatment: госпитализация, госпитализировать, острое течение, цитоктиновый шторм, цитоктиновая буря, ИВЛ, прон-позиция. (hyper inflammatory state, invasive mechanical ventilation, cytoctine storm);
2. Health facilities and their configuration: стационар, госпиталь, резервный госпиталь, ковидный корпус, реанимация, реанимационное отделение, реанимационная койка, палата интенсивного наблюдения, ковидарий, коронарий, Коммунарка (hospitalization surveillance, COVID-associated hospitalization, hospital admission, resuscitation bed);
3. Medical equipment: аппараты искусственной вентиляции легких, монитор, кислородный концентратор, кислородная маска, реанимационное оборудование (oxygencon centrator, oxygen mask, resuscitation equipment);
4. Patients: ковидный больной, ковидник, плюсанутый, ковид-положительный, ковид-отрицательный (hospitalized patient, probable case, suspect case, confirmed case);
5. Patient routing: чистая зона, грязная зона, красная зона, зеленая зона, ковидная зона, шлюз (warm zone model (WZM), cold zone, hot zone, port of entry, entry screening).
Analyzing lexical variations between corpora, it is worth mentioning that the Russian corpus demonstrates 15% more descriptive characteristics related to medical personnel activity and methods of treatment for patients with serious conditions, highlighting the severity of COVID-19 course as the core factor for COVID-19 semantic uniqueness, while the English corpus is 20% more characterized by the manifestation of lexical groups reflecting medical personnel safety measures and models for intra-hospital patient routing, which manifests the representation of overall involvement into the purposefully elaborated set of mutual activities aimed at reciprocal safety and protection.
The thematic sub-frame Diagnostics is represented by the following subgroups:
1. Identification of COVID-19: забор мазка, мазок (из носоглотки/ротоглотки), ПЦР, ПЦР-тест, ПЦР-диагностика, лабораторное подтверждение, отрицательный (положительный) результат теста, COVID-положительный, COVID-отрицательный, тест-система (PCR-based test, covid diagnostics, test positive, test negative, swab) and
2. Diagnosis of life-threatening conditions: пульсоксиметрия, пульсоксиметр, компьютерная томография, КТ (CT, computer tomography, pulse oximete). The Lethality thematic frame is represented by the sub-frames
1. Risk Group: хронические заболевания, сахарный диабет, пожилой возраст, люди старше 60 лет (obesity, diabetes, asthma) and
2. Statistics: эпидемиологическая кривая, случай заражения, количество заболевших, уровень летальности, flatten the curve, first death, lethality rate. Semantically both sub-frames are arranged according to the above mentioned pragmatic intention of emphasizing the significance of COVID-19 case identification. The core manifests terminological ensembles associated with top-relevant data for raising social awareness in case definition and distinction that predetermine social and individual policy.
Considerable thematic frame restructuring occurs in the mid-2021. This period is characterised by the semantic changes in the core structure and incorporates lexical groups associated with COVID-19 social interaction.
COVID-19 modes of social interaction are manifested within the following subgroups:
1. Social constraints: ограничительные меры (ввести/снять), план по введению/снятию ограничительных мер, ограничение свободного передвижения, зона свободного передвижения, локдаун, закрытие границ, масочный режим, обязательный масочный режим, домашний режим, социальная дистанция, длина социальной дистанции, карантин, самоизоляция, QR-код, цифровой пропуск (COVID restrictions, COVID limitations, lockdown, quarantine, social distance, social distancing, travel status, entry requirements, testing requirements, domestic activities);
2. Type of activity: удаленный режим, удаленная работа, удаленка, дистанционка, дистанционные формы обучения, перевести на дистант, зумить, бесконтактная доставка (distantwork, virtualvisits, virtualtalk);
3. Types of interpersonal interaction: ковидные приветствия, дистанционный привет, привет издалека, приветствия ступнями (social bubble, travel bubble, foot shake, elbow bump, corona party);
4. Participants in social interaction: ковид-диссидент, безмасочник, коронавт, корониал (covidiot, coronial, covid-affiliates, covid-mate).
During this time period, the corpora demonstrate specifically focused COVID-19 characteristics associated with ongoing research into the phenomenon and new data from medical professionals being the guarantee of trust. Differential semantic features typical of the Russian corpus are related to the regulation of specific preventive measures, diagnosis specifications and new treatment techniques, controlling functions of the authorities and governmental structures. In the Russian corpus 25% of the core is manifested through socially marked lexical units associated with the limitation of behavioral patterns and the consequences of non-obedience: ограничение, штраф, обязательное ношение масок, последствия несоблюдения мер, необходимость контроля, контроль за соблюдением, отчет, предоставить список сотрудников, разрешенные виды деятельности.
In addition, social differentiation and segregation among certain social groups is detected. This is due both to the clarification of regulatory measures (risk groups, age specificities, service workers and self-employed businessmen) and to the particularities of COVID-19 spread still associated in the Russian corpus with national groups (Южноафриканский штамм (вариант Бета), Бразильский вариант (Гамма), Индийский штамм (Дельта). Throughout all periods the Russian corpus demonstrates 70% more occurrence frequencies of nationally specific characteristics compared with the English corpus, where the alphabetic names for strains are much more common. This correlates with the data obtained at the initial stage, where the distinctive feature of COVID-19 in the Russian-speaking corpus is associated mostly with China (уханьский вирус, китайский вирус, Уханьский штамм). The conceptualizing idea of "external enemy – fight –social consolidation" is typical of the Russian historical tradition as a whole and is based on the underlying values that contribute to the formation of national identity. This tendency can be traced through the analysis of context-specific linguistic means that provide a familiar way of schematizing and modelling the atypical reality, resulting in national unification during the critical a period.
The English corpus, on the contrary, reveals the idea of the phenomenon global character and demonstrates the lack of reference to specific national communities, highlights the idea of an internationally common crisis and, accordingly, shared responsibility for its consequences. The English corpus accentuates the heroic role of medical personnel which is related to the paramount importance and sufficiency of personal protective equipment in medical settings. The patient-routing model and the division of hospital zones into hazardous, potentially hazardous and non-hazardous for contamination are also contextually related to the need for effective medical personnel protection.
Integral semantic features characteristic for COVID-19 the mid-2021 period are social distancing, digitalization and changes of traditional patterns of social interaction, new formats of communication. The recurrent significance of lexical manifestation of mental health issuers in the English corpus is also worth mentioning. Lexical units denoting psychological well-being are 60% more frequent and include such examples as mental health concerns, mental health outcome, impact on mental health, chronic psychological symptoms, coping strategies. The Russian corpus demonstrates recurrent presence of semantic characteristics associated with the ability to overcome the situation, patience and acceptance:способность вынести ограничения, объединиться и выстоять, оптимистичные планы, пример стойкости, терпеливые российские граждане.
As has been shown in our study, the linguistic reflection of frame structures viewed as anthropocentric categorizing ensembles formed in cognitive activity is based on the contextual composition of lexical-semantic components, that undergo significant changes in temporal perspective.
The process of COVID-19 thematic framing is, thus, realized through the basic cognitive mechanisms, one of which is schematization. Along with that, subject-mattered or aspectual perception implies conscious identification and fixation of socially and situationally significant characteristics related to COVID-19. This results in novel lexical explications and re-established connectivity among terminological elements. The terminological elements under study belong to a specified communicative and discursive field and demonstrate systemic combination of relevant characteristics of the signifying component – terminological means and their purposefully formed unities, and the signified component – occasional semantic features, characterizing the mobility of semantic meaning and temporal shifts in the subject-matter aspectual fixation. This convergence reveals the specificity of COVID-19 thematic framing in every time period under investigation.
The mediation of cognitive activity by linguistic means provides the possibility of continuous mental transformation of COVID-19 thematic framework, which is confirmed by the presence of diversified connotative meanings of terminological units in the analyzed sample, providing the choice of necessary aspects from a number of possible variants, which is not typical for terminology in general. Considering the peculiarities of COVID-19 terminological system, its diffusion and high degree of polysemy, content composition is domain-dependent and occurs differently in public media, official or professional sources which incorporate mismatching lexical-semantic ensembles. Together with that, the interpretation of lexical means is carried out in accordance with the systemic connections, which predetermine the whole structure of a diffused COVID-19 semantic field. It becomes a scaffolding basis for the COVID-19 hyper-frame formation. Mental comparison, which is an integral cognitive mechanism, enables semantic convergence and unifies all the components, contributing to the denotation clarification and further comprehension of both linguistic and conceptual elements.
The mechanisms of categorization and systematization underlie the formation of the structural unity of terminological elements, which, in turn, is confirmed by the presence of the intersecting sub-frames described in the study. It should be noted that thematic connectivity of lexical units is provided not only by occasional presence of particular lexical elements in close proximity to each other, but also by the associative links within the contextual fields, due to the deictic nature of the discourse. Deicticity as “a part of the language space, objectifying peculiarities of identification and functioning of any linguistic unit in the speech interaction” entails semantic enrichment based on culturally specific components, such as spatial and temporal characteristics, implicit conventional knowledge or cultural and historic experience.
The study puts emphasis both on the act of cognizing carried out according to the certain laws of mental functioning and its result, reflecting the logics of its implementation, available for the profound analysis.
Modern terminology studies, emphasizing the anthropocentricity of terminological systems, point out their leading role in shaping perceptual models, linking the obligatory presence of term-elements in the communicative field with the changes in the format and mode of domain-specific speech production. According to this approach, the term becomes a means of revealing the cognitive snapshot within the process of professional cognition and, being a unit of a natural language system, seizes a substantial attribute necessary for the plan of expression. Such single-aspect nature stimulates further cognitive activity and provokes a new circle of terminological system development. Terminological units and terminological systems are then dynamic, discursively formed structures and, as it has been shown in our study, encompass a great transformation potential. The process of thematic framing takes place staidly and sets up a categorizing perceptual network through the convergence of basic cognitive mechanisms, which are aimed at mentalizing discursive elements that become internalized mental tools for further cognitive activity performed at a different level of efficacy.
COVID-19 terminological system is, thus, defined as a complex construct that formalizes not only the knowledge about a certain fragment of the reality, but also as a means of accompanying the representation of socially significant non-linguistic phenomena. Knowledge integration is implemented through the hierarchical structure of COVID-19 terminological units, so the system performs the function of modeling a certain cognitive paradigm. Thematic framing elements are the quanta of novel knowledge and markers of conceptual unities in a non-discrete continuum, that helps to structure the uncertainty.
Furthermore, "precisely because a term is given to us in the form of a lexical unit, a unit of language, we are fully entitled to claim that the term grows on the lexical unit of a particular national language or that, in other words, the lexical unit of that language is the natural language substrate of the term... At the same time ... the features of the term which enable it to denote (express) special concepts form its logical superstrate. In between are the substantive and formal features of the term, which form its terminological essence" . Through the prism of the term content: its semantics, signifying meaning and motivation linguistic, general scientific and special knowledge, historical and cultural experience of their accumulation and use are reflected simultaneously . Thus, the units of terminological systems and terminology as a whole incorporate semantic components reflecting national and cultural specificity, as they are a part of the natural language and function according to certain general laws.
Within the assumptions developed from the research results, the term COVID-19 is identified as a modeling key unit of the terminological system. We understand the latter as a dynamic conceptual ensemble, both a benchmark and a determinant model for conceptual framing. The most significant characteristics of COVID-19 terminological system are its thematic complexity and integrability, socially and temporally predetermined systemic structure, that enables historic, logical, cultural and cognitive coherence; anthropocentrism, transformational capacity and modeling potential. Terminology-based framing is viewed as a gradual process of structuring pandemic uncertainty and provides the background for COVID-19 phenomenon comprehension and further investigation.