I) A battle, a tsunami or a raging fire? Metaphors for Covid-19 and why they matter
Since the beginning of the current pandemic, Covid-19 has been talked about through metaphors, for example as an enemy to be beaten, a marathon to be completed, and a tsunami overwhelming health services. Some of these metaphors have proved controversial, however. For example, war metaphors – such as “the battle against Covid-19” – have been criticised for potentially causing excessive anxiety; and the metaphor of the “second wave” has been described as inaccurate, because, in the words of a representative of the World Health Organization: “We are in the first wave. There is going to be one big wave”. In the first part of this lecture, Professors Veronika Koller and Elena Semino (Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University) discuss how metaphors have been used to communicate about different aspects of the pandemic, and why it matters that metaphors are used sensitively and effectively.
II) Pandemics and Infodemics: The language of disinformation during Covid-19
The pandemic has created a melting pot of medical, political, social and economic factors that have allowed falsehoods online to spread through all sectors of society. A combination of mistrust, fear and people’s desire for information during a crisis has led some people to embrace conspiracy theories in a search for the “truth”.In the second part of the lecture, William Dance (Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University) looks at how people online talk about ‘truth’ and ‘facts’ differently in relation to Covid-19, explores how disinformation has adapted to the pandemic and discusses how policymakers, educators and others can develop strategies to stop the spread of falsehoods online.