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“Our country is a freedom-loving country”: the spreading virus as metaphor for ‘People on the move'

“Our country is a freedom-loving country”: the spreading virus as metaphor for ‘People on the move'
“Our country is a freedom-loving country”: the spreading virus as metaphor for ‘People on the move'

Although Covid-19 has been framed using all manner of metaphors, an as-yet under-examined question is how the spreading virus might itself serve as a metaphor and what purpose this might serve. The article redresses this deficit by identifying shared experiences of the mobile virus as the basis for a metaphorical framework for evaluating and judging human behavior, including alleged rule-breaking, during the pandemic. The article traces the appearance of the metaphor spreading across a broad spectrum of sources that includes political speech, the reporting of crime in prosecutorial and local media sources, judicial opinion and poetry. We observe in some limited contexts a straightforward metaphoric transfer or substitution between mobile people and the mobile virus. In a greater number and variety contexts, we find instead more subtle signs of the metaphor: the censuring of bad behavior and the justifying of coercive treatment using the metonymic elements of viral spread: its characteristic unpredictability, speed, agility, irrepressibility, and relentlessness.

1092-6488
140-151
Gurnham, David
f63e1a54-5924-4fd0-a3f5-521311cee101
Gurnham, David
f63e1a54-5924-4fd0-a3f5-521311cee101

Gurnham, David (2022) “Our country is a freedom-loving country”: the spreading virus as metaphor for ‘People on the move'. Metaphor and Symbol, 37 (2), 140-151. (doi:10.1080/10926488.2021.1954858).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Although Covid-19 has been framed using all manner of metaphors, an as-yet under-examined question is how the spreading virus might itself serve as a metaphor and what purpose this might serve. The article redresses this deficit by identifying shared experiences of the mobile virus as the basis for a metaphorical framework for evaluating and judging human behavior, including alleged rule-breaking, during the pandemic. The article traces the appearance of the metaphor spreading across a broad spectrum of sources that includes political speech, the reporting of crime in prosecutorial and local media sources, judicial opinion and poetry. We observe in some limited contexts a straightforward metaphoric transfer or substitution between mobile people and the mobile virus. In a greater number and variety contexts, we find instead more subtle signs of the metaphor: the censuring of bad behavior and the justifying of coercive treatment using the metonymic elements of viral spread: its characteristic unpredictability, speed, agility, irrepressibility, and relentlessness.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 7 July 2021
Published date: 31 March 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: The author would like to thank Dr Haris Psarras, Brigitte Nerlich and Martin Doering for comments on an earlier draft of this article, and also colleagues in the Health Ethics and Law Network at the University of Southampton for feedback on a paper presentation. All errors remain my own. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450387
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450387
ISSN: 1092-6488
PURE UUID: 06c74886-0dd3-459b-be19-f15154e5f7f1
ORCID for David Gurnham: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6807-7587

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Jul 2021 16:30
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 05:10

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