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 ‘Ausgangsperre’ (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 …

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 …

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 …

Science, sanity and sanitation

Lots of things keep happening in this pandemic… Two things, in particular, happened over the last couple of days, which made me and many others sit up and think. The membership of SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, was revealed at last, and we heard that Dominic Cummings attended meetings. At the same time, …

Our pandemic future: A metaphorical exploration

We have reached a point in the pandemic when many people are beginning to yearn for a return to normal life, beyond lockdowns, confinements or sheltering in place. Ed Yong, the renowned science writer, has written some great pieces for The Atlantic on the pandemic. The latest one is called “Our Pandemic Summer” (15 April) …

Being on a journey while staying at home: More about corona metaphors

Yesterday afternoon, I talked to somebody about coronavirus metaphors, which ones were good, which ones were bad etc. Of course, we discussed war metaphors. But I also said that people seem to have overlooked another, less conspicuous metaphor, the ‘journey’ metaphor. The journey metaphor is an important example of a ‘conceptual metaphor’ in Lakoff and …