Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Novel Coronavirus Orientation Metaphors: page 1

The sports page is my usual location for teaching metaphors in the art of story metaphor listening. I teach the art of listening by focusing on metaphors. They provide the tip of the ice berg for meaning since a lot of meaning is under the surface. With the novel coronavirus I have a more dynamic situation involving life and death for teaching metaphors.  With sports you have winning or losing with suspenseful moments but not physical life or death. With coronavirus we have a unfortunate feast of orientation metaphors depending on who is using them.

Back to coronavirus as teacher. The headlines in the Quad City Times, Tuesday, February 25, “Coronavirus threatens economy: Dow drops 1000 points as investors worry.” From the book Metaphors we Live by I focus on two features of the metaphor: root and orientation. Root metaphors are nouns and direct objects. Orientation metaphors are verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions. 

The headlines gets us started with orientation: threatens, drops, and worry. The orientation metaphors will dominate the stories you read. That is my prediction. From the article: slumped, worst, worry, weaken. These four orientation metaphors are in the first paragraph. The alliteration with worst, worry, weaken reminds me of Shakespeare who said, “Fire makes poets of us all.””

the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all. (Atlantic Article)

“Certain containment measures will be appropriate, but widely banning travel, closing down cities, and hoarding resources are not realistic solutions for an outbreak that lasts years. All of these measures come with risks of their own. Ultimately some pandemic responses will require opening borders, not closing them. At some point the expectation that any area will escape effects of COVID-19 must be abandoned: The disease must be seen as everyone’s problem.” 

In future pages I will identify orientation metaphors from various these sources. The orientation metaphors will change, providing different perspectives, but all will be orientation metaphors just the same as they move words from other places to focus on the present coronavirus epidemic…bordering on pandemic. 

Metaphors from containment

Metaphors from medical practice

Metaphors from the public (mostly social media)

Metaphors from the Department of Disease control and the World Health Organization.

Metaphors of politicians.

Metaphors of countries



Marlin Whitmer

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