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 …

Lockdown fatigue: A tale of two discourses

A while ago I wrote a brief post on ‘lockdown words’, amongst them ‘lockdown fatigue’. At the time I hadn’t noticed all the other quasi-synonyms, apart from ‘lockdown lethargy’. Over time more words crept past my horizon: behavioural fatigue, pandemic fatigue, isolation fatigue, quarantine fatigue and so on. In the UK, we are now in …

The social and metaphorical life of viruses

Metaphors are an essential part of science, from doing basic science to engaging in popular science communication. They can be used sporadically; they can be used more systematically to conceptualise a topic, for example the structure and function of DNA; or they can be used in a veritable firework sprinkled across one article. I once …