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Brigitte Nerlich has published a chapter on metaphors and the coronavirus in a book on Metaphors and Analogies in Sciences and Humanities

Nerlich, B. (2022). Metaphors in Times of a Global Pandemic. In: Wuppuluri, S., Grayling, A.C. (eds) Metaphors and Analogies in Sciences and Humanities. Synthese Library, vol 453. Springer, Cham.


In 2020 the world changed, as SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus, swept through it. Millions of people died of Covid-19 and everybody had their lives severely restricted. People had to learn and invent a new scientific and also ordinary language, from antigens to zoom parties. One way of making sense of it all was through metaphors. In the face of Covid-19, governments, the media, and citizens tacitly and almost unconsciously relied on entrenched and well-structured networks of frames and metaphors to conceptualise problems and solutions, rooted in long-standing talk about ‘disease control’ and ‘fighting disease’. Such war talk was prominent across the globe in the early stages of the pandemic. However, over time, alternative frames and metaphors have emerged in particular in countries that focused more on care for people rather than control over the virus. This chapter examines some of the pervasive and some of the alternative metaphors used during the pandemic in 2020, how they were used by some to try and control the world we live in and by others to create a better world to live in.

Posted on Tuesday 26th July 2022

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