Gene drives and societal narratives

Some days ago, I came across an interesting virtual conference (HT @Sarah_A_Hartley) about gene editing which includes a session on ‘societal narratives’. I have written quite a bit about societal narratives of gene editing, but more recently I became involved in the issue of ‘gene drive’, that is, “a system of biased inheritance in which …

The meaning of lockdown

The other day, my father in Germany, who is quite old, phoned me and asked what lockdown meant. ‘Lockdown’ is now used in Germany instead of more native words like ‘Ausgangssperre’ (exit barrier, if you like). He especially wondered about the ‘down’ bit, as he understood the ‘lock’ bit and also had heard about ‘locking …

‘A fire raging’: Why fire metaphors work well for Covid-19

This is a post by Elena Semino, University of Lancaster. It was first published on the website of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) on 1 July, 2020. It provides a thorough and fascinating analysis of fire metaphors used during the pandemic. *** Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, metaphors have been …

Gene writing: Between art and nature

In the past, I have written a bit about genomics, synthetic biology and gene editing, from the perspective of language and culture. So, when Matthew Cobb alerted me to a new thing called ‘gene writing’ at the beginning of July, I pricked up my ears. I told myself that I should write a blog post …

Bubbles: A short history

Last week we heard a lot about bubbles, especially school bubbles and travel bubbles. This metaphor has been bubbling up for a while during the pandemic and I became curious about how and where it emerged. Then I saw a tweet from Gareth Enticott which contained an article about New Zealand researchers who had come …

Lockdown words

I was looking at news articles about the lockdown and it suddenly dawned on me that something similar was happening here to what we observed around 2005 in terms of ‘carbon compounds’. At the time the climate crisis was extensively discussed in the news and people tried to find ways out of it. One focus …

CfP: Covid-19 and metaphors special issue

Call for contributions to Special Issue of Metaphor and Symbol on: Framing Covid-19: Assessing the Socio-cultural Imagery of the 2020 Corona Pandemic Guest-editors: Martin Döring (University of Hamburg, Germany) Brigitte Nerlich (University of Nottingham, United Kingdom) Context: The global Covid-19 pandemic has led to an explosion of metaphors and symbols. Research tracing and examining this …

Moving on and getting on with it

Phrasal verbs are interesting. You have verbs, like ‘move’ and ‘get’ for example. But you also have so-called phrasal verbs, verbs that are made up of a main verb together with an adverb or a preposition, or both, such as ‘move on’, in, out, over or ‘get on’, in, out, over etc., or even ‘move …

Pandemic landscapes: Peaks and tunnels, waves and plateaus

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic I have collected metaphors used to talk about it. First there were metaphors for the virus and for what to do about the spread of the virus and so on. Then there were metaphors of lockdowns, confinement and imprisonment but also more hopeful ones of journeys. Now metaphors …