What is it about?

By incorporating discourse analysis with statistical analysis and online surveys, Charteris-Black analyses daily press briefings, UK national newspapers, and British TV shows to identify and navigate common or impactful metaphorical framings of Coronavirus or the response to it. The findings are separated by chapters, each structured around distinct patterns of metaphorical frames. Three chapters are dedicated to frames of the pandemic itself; introducing the most common of the pandemic – war – before navigating “Fire and Force of Nature” and the allegorical “Zombie Apocalypse”. The four chapters explores how metaphor structured official communication of science, as well as understanding methods of containing the virus. Interestingly, in a move away from official discourse, Charteris-Black offers critical insight into the role of metaphorical thought the “Anti-Vaccine Movement”, as well as the official vaccination discourse. Finally, a discussion of “Honesty and Dishonesty” adds a complex normative layer to understanding the language of the pandemic – leaving the reader with plenty of food for thought, grappling questions such as the future of democracy.

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Why is it important?

In Metaphors of Coronavirus, Charteris-Black aims to offer insight into the use and impact of metaphor in the British public’s experience of the pandemic. Grounded in cognitive linguistics, this book explains the powerful realities of metaphors used in public health communication. Charteris-Black’s work contributes to the established filed of cognitive linguistics. Whilst there are interesting books on health metaphors (see Sontag, 1989), the metaphors of Coronavirus are thus far limited to discussion in few journal articles and blog posts: Metaphors of Coronavirus is an exceptional contribution to fill that space.


With his latest contribution, Charteris-Black has cemented his place as a leading expert on metaphor in yet another genre of political discourse.

Emily Faux
Newcastle University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Review of Charteris-Black (2020): Metaphors of Coronavirus, Journal of Language and Politics, February 2022, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/jlp.21082.fau.
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