Immunity debt: Creating and contesting metaphors

This week I am writing a post about my probably last Covid metaphor: immunity debt. What do people mean by that, I wondered? While trying to find out, I became aware of how slippery a concept this is; so I apologise in advance for misunderstandings. In 2021 a French group of researchers published a paper …

Invasion of the covid metaphor

This post is cross-posted from the i-human Covid-19 blog (University of Sheffield). It summarises a chapter I wrote for the book Being Human during Covid-19. I’d like to thank the editors of the book for both inviting me to write the chapter and giving me the opportunity to blog about it. *** As Milan Kundera said in …

Monkeypox

I recently saw these stats (as of May 31, 2022, there are 606 cases of Monkeypox worldwide, with the UK having 190, Spain 136, and  Portugal 100) and this graph (see featured image). And I thought: Should I write something about monkeypox? Then I thought: Why not, just to get things straight in my head. …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Endemic confusion

A few days ago, I saw this tweet by Bill Hanage and smiled: “For some reason there seems to be a lot of talk about endemicity again. For the avoidance of doubt, omicron is not endemic right now in much the same way that the moon is not a hamster”. I read many of the …

Pandemics, time and learning

I was reading a thought-provoking article by Katherine J. Wu, Ed Yong and Sarah Zhang in The Atlantic, entitled “Omicron is our Past Pandemic Mistakes on Fast-Forward”. As a metaphor-collector, I loved the first paragraph – which was all about speed: “With Omicron, everything is sped up. The new variant is spreading fast and far. …