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 …

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 …

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 …

Mathematical models, political decision making and public perceptions

On Tuesday, 3 March, Boris Johnson revealed the government’s action plan on how to deal with the novel coronavirus and the spread of Covid-19. Despite doubts about the usefulness of experts expressed some years ago by some of his colleagues, he was flanked by experts, namely Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, and …

Gene drives and Trojan horses: A tale of two metaphor uses

I was reading a recent article on gene drive entitled “Engineering bugs, resurrecting species: The wild world of synthetic biology for conservation” and came across this sentence about a so-called ‘Medea drive’: “This genetic Trojan Horse could then be used to spread elements that confer susceptibility to certain environmental factors, such as triggering the death …