IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …

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 …

Maps, books and jigsaws: The human genome is back

I was recently messing about on the news database Nexis when I came across this pronouncement from 1982!! “Weissmann appealed directly to the delegates for an international basic-research fund to determine how genes function and their relationship to disease. With current technology, he declared, mapping the entire human genome would require some 50,000 man-years and …

From ‘deadly enemy’ to ‘covidiots’: Words matter when talking about COVID-19

This article, by Ruth Derksen, is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here. I thought it would make a great addition to the covid collection on ‘Making Science Public’ and I am grateful to Ruth for her permission to republish it. Dr. Ruth Derksen is a Senior Instructor  …

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, …

Walls, wars and waves: Some more thoughts on covid metaphors

The vaccination of the UK population has gone extremely well. There is still a race though between vaccinating against the covid virus and the emergence or introduction of new virus variants. However, fears of hospitals being overwhelmed by covid patients are dwindling. While this is going on, I noticed a metaphor that I had not …

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 …

A new variant in covid speak

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Reynolds alerted me to an interesting new variant in covid speak, a metaphor used by the Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam in the context of talking about vaccines and variants (a variant is a virus with one or two mutations). As reported by CBC on March …