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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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Firebreak

About a month ago, when I thought the government was about to announce a ‘circuit breaker’, I wrote a blog post about that metaphor. Now the Welsh government has announced a circuit breaker but has called it a ‘fire break’. That means that I now have to write a quick post about the ‘fire break’ …

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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 …

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Poxpics: The visual discourse of monkeypox

Last week I talked about the coronavirus as an invisible killer and discussed some shortcomings of that metaphor. However, despite the nefarious uses of that metaphor, we should not forget that the coronavirus IS indeed an invisible threat and can be an invisible killer; no way around it. It wafts through the air unseen and …

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Monkeypox

I recently saw these stats (as of May 31, 2022, there are 606 cases of Monkeypox worldwide, with the UK having 190, Spain 136, and  Portugal 100) and this graph (see featured image). And I thought: Should I write something about monkeypox? Then I thought: Why not, just to get things straight in my head. …

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Omicron: From Frankenstein to Hurricane

When threatened by anything from AIDs to zoonoses, we unconsciously use war metaphors and natural force metaphors (storms, tsunamis, fires, avalanches, volcanoes etc.). We can also use more consciously created metaphors, such as Frankenstein (created in the 1990s). Such old and new metaphors help us understand and mitigate old and new risks and threats. War …

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Lockdown, freedom and responsibility

Two years ago, we learned a new word: ‘lockdown’. This was in fact an old word which acquired a new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic. That new meaning gradually changed over time. Now ‘lockdown’ has more or less lost its meaning and just stands for something to be avoided at all cost or something that …

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Superimmunity

From the start of the pandemic in the distant spring of 2020 linguists and communication researchers have kept an eye on language. They observed the emergence of new words, such as ‘covid’ and ‘covidiots’ and the increase in use and understanding of older or jargon words, such as pandemic, coronavirus, lockdown, social distancing, bubbles, and …

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