Author Post Archive
Brigitte Nerlich

Brigitte Nerlich

View this author's profile

Posts by Brigitte Nerlich

The sky is falling and the trees are crying: Reflections on extreme weather

For some weeks now, I wanted to write something about ‘rain bombs’, a relatively new weather/climate phenomenon and metaphor – but I didn’t get round to it. Then, last week, when I sat down to write, thoughts about strong rain were displaced by thoughts about fire and heat. In the end I decided to write …

Understanding metaphors in the life sciences – a book review

I recently wrote a review of a fascinating little book, Understanding Metaphors in the Life Sciences, by Andrew Reynolds. It appeared as part of the rather excellent series Understanding Life, published by Cambridge University Press and should be read in conjunction with another book in the series by Kostas Kampourakis entitled Understanding Genes, which came …

Covid metaphors: Three chapters and a special issue

When the pandemic began and I listened in to the chatter on the news, I started to think about the metaphors people used to talk about this devastating global event. I wrote quite a few blog posts on language, communication and metaphors. I also began various more academic activities which led to a special issue …

no comments

Covid metaphors: Around the world in eight articles

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, Martin Döring (Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg) and I (Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham) began to assemble and then edit articles dealing with its metaphorical framing around the world (not the whole world, of course!). Covid-19 killed millions of people and caused huge distress …

no comments

Omicron: From Frankenstein to Hurricane

When threatened by anything from AIDs to zoonoses, we unconsciously use war metaphors and natural force metaphors (storms, tsunamis, fires, avalanches, volcanoes etc.). We can also use more consciously created metaphors, such as Frankenstein (created in the 1990s). Such old and new metaphors help us understand and mitigate old and new risks and threats. War …

no comments

Seeing the world as Ukraine

Humans have a profound ability to see something as something else. This enables us to create metaphors, mind and, in my view, consciousness. As the psychologist and philosopher of science Rom Harré once said: “You need an ‘as if’ to look at the world; you need an ‘as if’ to explain the world.” (p.c.) When …

no comments

The IPCC report: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities

When I think about the latest IPCC report, which came out on 28 February, these sentences come to my (German) mind: Eintritt streng verboten! Eintritt strengstens verboten!! Eintritt allerstrengstens verboten!!! (Entry strictly forbidden. Entry very strictly forbidden. Entry extremely strictly forbidden.) These words are written on warning signs that adorn three doors in the classic …

no comments

Lockdown, freedom and responsibility

Two years ago, we learned a new word: ‘lockdown’. This was in fact an old word which acquired a new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic. That new meaning gradually changed over time. Now ‘lockdown’ has more or less lost its meaning and just stands for something to be avoided at all cost or something that …

no comments

Superimmunity

From the start of the pandemic in the distant spring of 2020 linguists and communication researchers have kept an eye on language. They observed the emergence of new words, such as ‘covid’ and ‘covidiots’ and the increase in use and understanding of older or jargon words, such as pandemic, coronavirus, lockdown, social distancing, bubbles, and …

no comments

Chris Toumey (1949-2022)

Chris Robinson has just told me the sad news that Chris Toumey (a cultural anthropologist who worked at the University of South Carolina) has died very suddenly. Chris was a kindred spirit and a fantastic science communicator. So, instead of writing an obituary, I’ll tell you a little personal story about engagement, energy, enthusiasm and …

comments 4