Metaphor is well known to be a linguistic and cognitive tool that we use to think and talk about subjective, sensitive and complex experiences in terms of experiences that tend to be simpler and more intersubjectively accessible. Illness is one of the experiences that are often talked about and conceptualized through metaphor. In this lecture, Elena Semino discusses the metaphors used in communication about three different health conditions: schizophrenia, cancer and Covid-19. She shows how in all three cases metaphors are exploited creatively for a range of purposes, including emotional disclosure, persuasion and reconceptualization. She also considers the practical implications and applications of the insights of metaphor analysis for health communication in clinical and public health settings.
This event is organized and sponsored by the Department of English, UBC. For more information, visit the event homepage.
Elena Semino (she/her/hers) is Professor of Linguistics and Verbal Art in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, and Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science. She holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of Fuzhou in China and is a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences. She is Associate Editor of the journal Metaphor and Symbol. She specializes in health communication, medical humanities, corpus linguistics, stylistics, and metaphor theory and analysis. She has (co-)authored over 110 academic publications, including: Metaphor in Discourse (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Metaphor, Cancer and the End of Life: A Corpus-based Study (Routledge, 2018). Her research has been funded by UK Research and Innovation, the British Academy, the National Institute for Health Research and the Wellcome Trust. In the periods 2011-14 and 2015-18, she was Head of Lancaster University’s Department of Linguistics and English Language, which is consistently ranked in the top 15 Linguistics Department in the world.