Covid, cowering and cowardice

We all remember Boris Johnson saying in March 2020 that we should take covid on the chin, followed by him saying in April that year that Covid was an invisible mugger that one should wrestle to the floor. This metaphorical framing of the virus as a physical assailant and of those having to deal with …

Walls and covid

A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief blog post about the wall metaphor used during the pandemic. I approved of it, as it highlighted community action: the more individuals get vaccinated, the more protection there is for everybody – one brick doesn’t make a wall, but many do. The metaphor is now being used …

Coronavirus and mental health: Risks, protective factors and care

This is a guest post by Dr Rusi Jaspal who is Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. E-mail: rusi.jaspal@ntu.ac.uk Twitter: @ProfRJaspal *** For several years, my colleagues and I have studied the effects of major social change on people’s sense of identity and psychological wellbeing. We have done so primarily through …

From stigma to sigma? The covid variant naming conundrum continues

On 31 May the World Health Organisation tweeted: “Today WHO has announced a new naming system for key #COVID19 variants. The labels are based on the Greek alphabet (i.e. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc), making them simple, easy to say and remember.” In her retweet of that tweet Alice Roberts said “…delta, epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, …

The coronavirus: A global metaphor

In cognitive linguistics there is a long-running debate about whether some metaphors are universal or near-universal or whether metaphors are more culture specific. I don’t really want to get into that controversy here, but recent work by Ahmed Abdel-Raheem made me think about it again. In this post I argue that it might be good for …

Metaphors and realities: Coronavirus and climate change

We have been surrounded by global disasters this year, inflicted on us by ‘invisible enemies’. These invisible enemies have been made visible in two ways. In the case of the pandemic, disaster metaphors related to floods, fire and storms have made the coronavirus visible. In case of climate change, real floods, fires, storms and droughts …

Images in the time of coronavirus

This post has been inspired by conversations with friends and colleagues on the SCIREPS list, particularly David and Dolores Steinman, Martin Kemp, Pascale Pollier and Roberta Buiani. Added, 10 July, 2020. There are now many more studies of images. Two in particular stand out about images of the virus. One by Rebekah Frumkin for the …

Silence, songs and solace: Music in the time of coronavirus

This post is jointly authored by Brigitte Nerlich (University of Nottingham), Martin Döring (University of Hamburg) and Pernille Bogø Jørgensen (University of Lancaster) *** Almost two decades ago, Martin Döring and I did a project on ‘the social and cultural impacts of foot and mouth disease’. Foot and mouth disease is an infectious and sometimes …

Metaphors in the time of coronavirus

On Sunday, 15th March, Kenan Malik wrote an article on metaphors for The Observer. This was inspired by Matthew Cobb’s new book on The Idea of the Brain which delves into the many metaphors of and for the brain that have been used over time. I have just started to read that book – a …

Coronavirus: Risk, rumour and resilience 

I was just starting to write this post, when I saw a tweet from Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, quoting Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, who said, as widely reported: “This is the time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumours. This is the time for solidarity, …