Panel 12 | COVID-19 and Pandemic

CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy

Day 2

3 | Rachelle Vessey

Language and gender in Canadian Chief Medical Officers’ tweets during the COVID-19 pandemic

Since January 2020, Canadian Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have rapidly evolved into public figures, tasked with highly mediated and unprecedented forms of mass communication. There is also a gendered dimension to this role: of Canada’s 17 national, provincial/ territorial and local CMOs (including the major cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa), 10 are women and 7 use Twitter to communicate with the Canadian public, as opposed to 7 male CMOs, of whom only 3 have Twitter accounts. Such a trend raises questions about the gendered dimension of public-facing health discourse in Canada.

This project adopts the theoretical lens of language ideology to explore language and gender dimensions of Canadian CMO health discourse on Twitter by analysing tweets from the accounts of all CMOs in Canada in English and French. 21,389 tweets (930,0883 words) from 10 Twitter accounts over an 18-month time period (January 2020-June 2021) are analyzed using a corpus-assisted discourse analytic approach, with a view of understanding if male and female Canadian CMOs communicate in similar ways on Twitter. Data are subject to five phases of analysis: (1) data mapping; (2) frequency-based analysis; (3) statistical (“keyword”) comparisons across different Twitter accounts based on language and gender (where possible); (4) collocation analysis of top-ranked frequent and statistically significant words; and (5) discourse analysis of top 10 “favourited” tweets from each CMO.

Results suggest that male and female CMOs have not communicated to the same extent, nor have they used the same (range of) languages. Also, there are differences with regard to expressions of authority and compassion: female CMOs mitigate their commands using a range of devices (e.g. hashtags, symbols) and employ first person plurals to align with their public health team as well as the general public. While a paucity of male data raises some methodological challenges, it also suggests a potential disengagement from the public-facing communicative role adopted by a majority of female CMOs. These findings suggest that language and gender ideologies may underpin specific and disproportionate communication work accorded to and undertaken by women.

15 | Marina Niceforo

Quite Like Before: the Power of Emotional Storytelling in Coca Cola’s Campaign Open Like Never Before

Few multinational companies worldwide can claim to be able to equal the communicative power of Coca Cola: every advertising and marketing device conceived by the drinks company is a masterpiece of brand image construction and promotion, and of course of corporate storytelling. One of the purposes of corporate storytelling is indeed to build consumer loyalty through brand reputation in order to implicitly reinforce people’s opinions about corporate values, and thus increase trust (Chen and Eriksson, 2019). By exploiting the universal mechanisms of storytelling, corporate narrations are able to spread carefully-targeted messages so as to create positive representations associated with buying and consuming certain products. It is safe to claim that this marketing practice is part of broader strategies of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that most companies nowadays choose to adopt for their operations; such strategies allow them “to be transparent in their business practices that are based on ethical values, compliance with legal requirements, and respect for the people, communities, and the environment” (Catalyst Consortium and USAID, 2002).

Considering this latter aspect, in recent years, many companies have sought to include in their promotional strategies environmental concerns about pollution caused by post-consumer waste; the growing relevance of such issues – together with the increasingly stringent regulations on sustainability practices applying for manufacturers – has indeed compelled companies to reconsider both their production cycles and their marketing plans. As a consequence, several brands are now endorsing sustainability among their core values by publicly committing to greener policies; such commitment is usually promoted through product labelling and strategic placement, as well as promotional and informational material of various kind available on social media, and multimodal advertising campaigns.

Coca Cola’s most recent advertising campaign, Open Like Never Before, provides an excellent yet controversial example of emotional storytelling. The related commercial adds to the growing number of post-Covid 19 advertisements characterized by a strong appeal to emotion: in the post-pandemic new era, people are encouraged to be “open, like never before” and embrace change. The video shows images of people performing daily activities in times of social distancing and confinement, and occasional glass bottles of Coke appear in the scenes. In terms of CSR and brand reputation, this is a precise marketing strategy aiming at putting aside the plastic pollution issue invariably associated with the multinational drinks company; indeed a 2019 brand audit report by Break Free from Plastic has labelled it as the world’s most polluting brand for the second year in a row.

This paper aims to observe the characteristics of Coca Cola’s emotional storytelling strategies from the theoretical/methodological frameworks of multimodal critical discourse analysis and ecolinguistics – the “ecological analysis of discourse” (Alexander & Stibbe 2014:104). Drawing also from other disciplines such as social semiotics, and from theories of emotional capitalism, the present study considers both verbal and visual elements to the purpose of deconstructing the sophisticated storytelling techniques employed by Coca Cola in the Open Like Never Before advertisement. By examining corporate reports and communications via official website and social media, the overall marketing and storytelling plan of the brand will also be examined so as to yield further relevant information. Ultimately, the discrepancies between the core message of positive change and the negative performances of sustainability reported by the company will be outlined, thus vouching for a multitude of intertwining research perspectives.

20 | Anna Marchi

Is it going to be nostalgia? Pre-Covid in the news

This paper investigates experiences of life before the Covid-19 pandemic as reported in the British press. The corpus-assisted analysis (see for example Partington et al. 2013) is based on a 246 million words corpus containing the whole output of nine daily newspapers between January and September 2021, and it examines the discourses surrounding the expressions pre-/ before/ prior to + covid* / coronavirus / LOCKDOWN / pandemic. Pre-pandemic and pre-covid are the most frequent words formed with the prefix pre- in all 2021 papers, respectively between 8 and 2 times as frequent as the third in the list for the broadsheets: pre-match. The cluster before the pandemic is the top three-gram containing the word before in all newspapers, with the exception of the Daily Mirror. This paper explores what the newspapers discuss when referring to reality before the pandemic and it also tests a specific hypothesis: is there a narrative of nostalgia? There has been speculation on the nostalgic effects of Covid-19: media outlets have published numerous articles and analyses on this topic (a rapid query on Nexis querying Covid and nostalgia in English language media retrieves over 1700 texts where the two terms co-occur in the past two years). A recurrent conveyed message is summarised by a team of marketing scholars on the academic “explanatory journalism” platform the Conversation: “Throughout lockdown many were nostalgic not for how things were in the 1990s, or when they were little, but for how things were just a few months ago. People yearned for the pub, hugs, a day at the office and other mundane things” (Brunk et al. 2020). So, is this one of the discourses that emerge in the corpus when looking at Covid-related news, is it a dominant one? The work presented here is part of a larger project on narratives of nostalgia in the media and, in this context, this paper also has a broader methodological aim. It represents an attempt to see whether investigating nostalgia in a restricted and topic-specific setting (i.e. news about Covid) may shed light on how to use corpora to study a complex phenomenon such as nostalgia, which involves emotion, memory and imagination (De Brigard 2018) and which appears to defy lexical operationalization when we address it from a general perspective, for example aiming at identifying linguistic mechanisms used in the press with the effect (or even the aim) of evoking nostalgia.

Brunk, K., Hartmann, B. J., Dam, C., Kjeldgaard, D. 2020. “How coronavirus made us nostalgic for a past that held the promise of a future”. The Conversation, 14.07.2020. Available online:

De Brigard, F. 2018. Nostalgia and mental stimulation. In A. Gotlib (ed.) The Moral Psychology of Sadness. London: Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 155-182.

Partington A., Duguid A. & Taylor C. 2013. Patterns and Meanings in Discourse: Theory and Practice in Corpus-assisted Discourse Studies. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

23 | Anaïs Augé

“COVID-19 is the Earth's vaccine”: Are environmental metaphors controversial?

This paper proposes a discussion of the controversial conceptualisation “Nature is healing. We are the virus”. These depictions have been observed in Twitter threads during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic (Bosworth 2021). However, the implications of such a conceptualisation can be disputed: it entails that solving the climate crisis would require humanity to be eliminated (like a VIRUS). These implications are even more questionable in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic when the global population experiences major health concerns. The present study draws on this existing controversy, which presents HUMANITY AS A VIRUS. I investigate the ways environmentalists have metaphorically depicted the causes and consequences of the health crisis.

First, I focus on the variety of metaphors – HEALTH, WAR, CRIME, CONTAINER, JOURNEY – that have been used by environmentalists to blame humanity for climate change and the pandemic. Existing research shows that environmentalists emphasised the consequences of pollution on health, they praised the drop of emissions documented during the lockdown, and they advertised a post-COVID-19 world where humans reduce pollution to avert a new health crisis (Sorce and Dumitrica 2021). My paper demonstrates to what extent (if at all) environmentalists relied on disputable metaphorical depictions to promote such arguments.

Second, with regards to the metaphor HUMANITY AS A VIRUS, I focus on the occurrences of the HEALTH metaphor scenario (Musolff 2010) in environmental discourse. I distinguish the metaphorical expressions used before the pandemic from the ones used during the pandemic. This distinction is aimed at identifying the new environmental arguments promoted during the pandemic through the use of the HEALTH metaphor scenario.

The research relies on pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, and discourse analysis to study environmental texts published in 2020 and 2021 by major Non-Governmental Organisations such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion (251 texts; 49 metaphorical occurrences). My results show that environmentalists effectively rely on metaphors to blame humanity for the present crises (e.g., “we should not focus on the healing, but on what had made nature sick in the first place”), but they adapt these metaphorical conceptualisations to show support to the communities suffering from the virus and to promote mitigation (e.g., “Bail out people and the planet OR bail out the industries that are killing us”). While environmentalists used to depict the environment as a SICK BODY prior the pandemic, the occurrences related to the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the human characteristics associated with the source domain HEALTH (e.g., “putting people and the planet’s health first”).


Bosworth, K. (2021). The bad environmentalism of “nature is healing” memes. Cultural Geographies. DOI: 10.1177/14744740211012007

Musolff, A. (2010). Metaphor, nation, and the Holocaust: The concept of the body politic. London, Routledge.

Sorce, G. & Dumitrica, D. (2021). #fighteverycrisis: Pandemic shifts in Fridays For Future’s protest communication frames. Environmental Communication. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2021.1948435

46 | Ursula Kania

“No wonder they are getting ill.”– Anti-Asian Racism in Reader Comments on UK tabloid coverage of the ‘bat soup video’

Since January 2020, police have recorded a sharp increase in hate crimes against Chinese people in the UK. This rise has been partially driven by the widely reported claim that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood and Wildlife Market, which in turn is often connected to a stigmatisation of Chinese (food) culture on a more general level.

This study aims at analysing discursive representations of anti-Chinese sentiment (as well as potential counter-discourses) in reader comments on COVID-19-related coverage in British (tabloid) newspapers, using a Daily Mail article covering the ‘bat soup video’ as a case study. Methodologically, the study is situated within corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis (Baker & McEnery, 2015) and draws on van Dijk’s (e.g., 2015) work on the reproduction of racism in discourse.

The article (published 23rd January, 2020) was chosen because it generated approx. 350,000 shares as well as about 1,000 reader comments, all of which the Daily Mail claims “have been moderated in advance”. 1,049 comments were extracted from the Daily Mail website using the free version of DataMiner and cleaned up manually, yielding a csv-file comprising the comments themselves, usernames, user location, number of upvotes/downvotes, and the number of replies.

Preliminary findings were obtained through quantitative analyses (using AntConc) as well as close reading of the dataset, with the aim of identifying linguistic patterns and dominant discourses.

The vast majority of comments support and take up the negative and inflammatory rhetoric used by the article itself, e.g., by making use of the same lexis (‘revolting’). Furthermore, many express a simplistic and homogenizing view of Asian food cultures and foster a perspective which relies on the reproduction of Western-centric foodways as the ‘norm’. Often, a sharp dichotomy is created between Western vs. non-Western food practices (with the former being construed as ‘normal’ and the latter as ‘not normal’, ‘exotic’, and inherently ‘unsafe’). Further analyses will look into explicit denials of racism (e.g., via disclaimers and mitigation) and other “disguised forms of racist discourse” (Hughey & Daniels, 2013, p. 334), which may be used as strategies to get past moderation.

Overall, the results suggest that this kind of tabloid news coverage contains and thus fosters anti-Asian discourses and even offers readers a platform for expressing anti-Asian hate speech and verbal aggression. The study demonstrates the potential of critical discourse studies to expose and challenge both explicit and implicit/liquid forms of racism in online spaces.


Baker, P. and McEnery, T. (eds.) 2015. Corpora and Discourse: Integrating Discourse and Corpora. London: Palgrave.

Hughey, M. W., & Daniels, J. (2013). Racist comments at online news sites: a methodological dilemma for discourse analysis. Media, Culture & Society, 35(3), 332–347.

Van Dijk (2015), Racism in the Press. In Nancy Bonvillain (Ed.), Handbook of Linguistic

Anthropology. (pp. 384-392). London: Routledge.

47 | Cecilia Lazzeretti & Gianfranco Pastore

The new normal of museum communication in the age of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting museums at a global level with serious repercussions (ICOM, 2021). At present, while lockdowns have gradually come to an end in several regions and countries, museums have to comply with government provisions introduced to regulate access (e.g., the European Digital Covid Certificate) and revise their health security protocols according to the rapidly evolving pandemic scenario. Yet, cultural institutions are demonstrating resilience and creativity in communicating with their audiences during these challenging times: the pandemic is offering an opportunity for reflection, which includes recognising the unexpected benefits of communicating remotely and experimenting with new expressive languages (Noehrer et al., 2021). Digital has become the ‘new normal’ for museums and is expected to form an integral part of future strategies of communication well beyond the present crisis. From this perspective, museum communication in the age of COVID is worth exploring as an incubator of innovative practices in digital outreach and engagement strategies.

As part of an ongoing research project on museum discourse in South Tyrol - a multilingual area characterised by a natural vocation for tourism and a high density of museums - the present study explores the discursive strategies adopted by cultural institutions to deal with the pandemic, control uncertainty, make sense of a long-lasting crisis, and construct a ‘new normalcy’ scenario. The analysis explores the strategies employed by museums on websites and social media to engage with the audiences and remain present in the memory of visitors, even in periods when physical access to venues is not possible. The analysis also addresses the challenge of multilingualism in museum communication, with a view to identify the language in which communication is offered and what role English plays in establishing relation with a multicultural audience.

The study is qualitative in focus and relies on a combined methodology: after gathering background data through semi-structured interviews (Spradley, 1979) carried out with key informants working inside South-Tyrolean museums, representative samples of communication materials are being collected and analysed drawing on techniques of discourse analysis applied to the specific field of museums (see, in particular, Ravelli, 2007, and Bondi, 2009).

Preliminary results tend to highlight four main themes on which museum communication is centred: 1) acknowledgement of the crisis and its consequences on the museum's activities; 2) information on new regulations and measures in force to access the museum; 3) engagement of the public in the initiatives promoted by the museum; 4) maintenance of a close relationship with the museum community, especially at a local level. Within this context, the degree of explicitness with which the Covid situation is addressed by the museum can vary significantly, so as the attitude of communication, ranging from overall positive to neutral. Furthermore, the early stages of the analysis suggest a preference for the use of local languages (German and Italian) instead of English, and thus a tendency to favour local community interlocutors.


1. Bondi, M. (2009). Perspective and Position in Museum Websites. In Radighieri, S. and Tucker, P. (eds) Point of View. Description and Evaluation across Discourses. Rome: Officina Edizioni, 113-127.

2. ICOM - International Council of Museums (2021). Museums, Museum Professionals and COVID-19: third survey.

3. Noehrer, L., Gilmore, A., Jay, C., & Yo, Y. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on digital data practices in museums and art galleries in the UK and the US. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 8(1).

4. Ravelli, L. (2007). Museum Texts: Communication Frameworks. London: Routledge.

5. Spradley, J. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston."

50 | Giorgia Riboni

The “New Normal” and the Right to Disconnect: A Discourse-analytical Perspective

Internet technologies have made remote work a feasible option for many employees. Working from home offers many benefits but does not come without its challenges and difficulties. In particular, teleworking has created a more flexible work culture –which some fear may turn into a 24/7 work culture. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many companies were driven to implement remote work in order to ensure its continuity, with the result that working from home presently represents a widely common phenomenon and is expected to become part of a “new normal” in which hybrid working models will likely be predominant. In this context, the need to introduce some form of norming of teleworking practices is deeply felt. More specifically, it seems important to devise laws and policies that enable employees to set boundaries between their work and their private life. The institution of the right to disconnect, i.e. the legal possibility not to perform work and not to have to be available for digital communication (e.g. for exchanging emails) during non-work hours, was already on some governments’ agendas before the pandemic and came to be a priority after the outbreak of COVID-19. Some countries and states (such as Italy, Spain, and Ontario) have already brought in legislation to regulate working conditions and guarantee the right to disconnect. English-speaking countries such as the USA and the UK have not implemented any policies (as yet), but they have witnessed the emergence of a lively debate about this right, too. While proponents of right to disconnect legislation consider it as an efficient tool to prevent overwork and help employees maintain a healthy work/life balance, others claim that its enforcement would be hardly practicable and would not address the real problems with working conditions, as they originate in a frenetic-paced work culture which could only be limitedly affected by legal regulation.

Against this backdrop, this study sets out to investigate the newspaper coverage of the discussion on the right to disconnect and aims at identifying recurring rhetorical-discursive patterns emerging in the press. More specifically, the research investigates how practices and situations associated with remote work –and disconnection from it– are categorized and labelled by journalists. Newspaper definitions of what is meant by right to disconnect and of associated concepts play a substantial role in the analysis, as definition processes offer schemes for the social construction of reality and assign ordered meanings to human experiences. Thanks to their wide circulation, definitions found in the press may significantly affect the common perception of current teleworking conditions and of the questions connected to them.

As a consequence, this study adopts a discourse-analytical approach which rests on a view of discourse as something that not only reflects reality but also contributes to constructing and categorizing and it. The analysis presented in the paper is carried out on an ad hoc corpus comprised of newspaper articles about the right to disconnect published in English-speaking countries over the last decade.

52 | Ewa Bogdanowska-Jakubowska & Nika Bogdanowska

(Non)acceptance of the (new) normal in Polish social discourse

In recent years, the Polish society has become highly polarized on several significant issues, e.g. the traditional worldview which the ruling Law and Justice party has been trying to impose on Poles, the discrimination of sexual minorities, the ruling that has imposed a near total-ban on abortion, the way the Covid-19 pandemic has been handled, and, most recently, the humanitarian crisis at the Poland-Belarus border.

The aim of the study is to conduct a critical analysis of Polish social discourse on the latter two issues showing the polarization of the society and the establishment of the normal, which is not new in all the cases. The main research question guiding our analysis of the Polish social discourse on the pandemic and the border crisis pertains to the ways the problems are handled, employed discursive strategies and linguistic means used to realize them. To better understand the reasons for Poles’ (non)accepting the (new) normal, we will combine the discourse analysis with an analysis of the sociocultural and political context, e.g the vast political, economic and sociocultural changes which occurred in Poland after 1989 (cf. Krzyżanowski and Wodak, 2009; Bogdanowska-Jakubowska and Bogdanowska, 2021; Galasińska and Galasiński, 2010).

We will employ the principle of triangulation, which means that the discourse will be approached from a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives taken from various disciplines. The analysis will be conducted within the framework of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) developed by Ruth Wodak and her Vienna group (Wodak, 2001; Wodak et al., 2009), committed to Critical Discourse Analysis. DHA is an interdisciplinary approach which combines pragmatics, “sociolinguistics and studies on narration, stylistics, rhetoric and argumentation with historical and sociological research” (Reisigl, 2018: 45). In our study, different types of data from public and private spheres, acquired from different sources (political speeches, TV and radio interviews, newspaper articles, social media posts and posters) and by means of different data collection methods (participant observation), as well as a variety of background information will be used.


Ewa Bogdanowska-Jakubowska, E. and Bogdanowska, N. (2021). Addressing the other in Poland (the 20th and 21st centuries): Different times, different contexts, different meanings. Journal of Pragmatics,Vol. 178, pp. 301-314

Galasińska, A. and Galasiński, D. (2010). Living between history and the present. The Polish post-communist condition. In: Galasińska, A. and Galasiński, D. (eds), The Post-Communist Condition. Public and Private Discourses of Transformation. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, pp. 1-20.

Krzyżanowski, M. and Wodak, R. (2009). Theorising and analysing social change in Central and Eastern Europe: The contribution of critical discourse analysis. In: Galasińska, A. and Krzyżanowski, M. (eds), Discourse and transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 17-39.

Reisigl, M. (2018). The discourse-historical approach. In: Flowerdew, J. and Richardson, J.E. (eds), Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies. London/New York: Routledge, pp. 44–59.

Wodak, R. (2001). The discourse-historical approach. In: Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (eds), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE, pp. 63–94.

Wodak, R., De Cillia, R., Reisigl, M., et al. (2009). The Discursive Construction of National Identity, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

61 | Sten Hansson, Ruth Page, & Matteo Fuoli

Corpus-assisted analysis of blaming strategies on social media

Modern politics is permeated by blame games – symbolic struggles over the blameworthiness or otherwise of various social actors (Wodak, 2006; Hansson, 2018). For non-elite groups, blaming may be an effective instrument for pressurising policymakers to be more attentive to their demands (Johannesson & Weinryb, 2021). While political communication increasingly takes place online, existing linguistic research has not yet considered governmental blame games on social media. In our presentation, we demonstrate how corpus-assisted methods of discourse analysis could be used to identify various patterns of blaming in social media communication that may play part in delegitimising governments, political leaders, and their policies.

To find empirical social media data on blaming, we used a bespoke R script to collect 579,958 English Language replies (11,572,787 words) by Twitter users to the tweets posted by various British government ministers and departments between 31 October 2020 and 31 January 2021. This period was selected because it coincided with the peaks of two major public blame firestorms targeted at the members of the UK government as they (a) faced the risk of ending the Brexit transition in January 2021 without reaching a trade deal with the European Union, and (b) announced the second and third COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in England.

An exploratory keyword analysis, performed using Sketch Engine, revealed that the most frequent keyword used to cast blame on politicians was ‘resign’ (raw frequency of 10,115). Building on this finding, we used the Appraisal framework (Martin & White, 2005) to analyse a subset of 1000 replies calling for politicians’ resignation in more detail. We annotated evaluative language expressions involved in blaming acts with the aid of the UAM CorpusTool, focusing on the Appraisal category of Judgement. Judgement is an essential element of blaming as it means evaluating human behaviour ethically, using language which criticises or praises, condemns or applauds.

In our presentation, we bring textual examples of the four main kinds of blaming strategies identified in our data. These include blame attributions targeted at the government or a particular minister based on (1) negative judgements of their capacity, such as references to incompetence and policy failures, (2) negative judgements of tenacity, suggesting that the politicians are not dependable due to, for example, recklessness and dithering, (3) negative judgements of propriety, questioning their moral standing by references to, for instance, corruption, and (4) negative judgements of veracity, questioning the person’s truthfulness or honesty via references to their deceitful character or dishonest acts and utterances. In conclusion, we suggest that while the identification and classification of evaluative expressions presents several methodological challenges (see, e.g., Fuoli, 2018), it could provide a useful avenue for systematically revealing a variety of vectors and realisations of blaming in large datasets of online political conflict talk.

Fuoli, M. (2018). A stepwise method for annotating APPRAISAL. Functions of Language, 25(2), 229-258.

Hansson, S. (2018). Analysing opposition–government blame games: Argument models and strategic maneuvering. Critical Discourse Studies, 15(3), 228-246.

Johannesson, L., & Weinryb, N. (2021). How to blame and make a difference: Perceived responsibility and policy consequences in two Swedish pro-migrant campaigns. Policy Sciences, 54(1), 41-62.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. (2005). The language of evaluation. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wodak, R. (2006). Blaming and denying: Pragmatics. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language & linguistics (2nd ed. vol. 2.) (pp. 59–64). Oxford: Elsevier.

74 | Josie Ryan

Lexico-grammatical patterns in national identity discourse in Wales and England

How individuals identify in terms of their national identity is increasingly at the forefront of the national discourse. In a decade that has seen the first Scottish independence referendum, Brexit, and devolved health policy in response to the COVID19 pandemic, the extent to which people identify with the British state, or the nations that comprise the state, that is, Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is ever more pertinent.

The aim of this project is to model spatial conceptualisations of national identity and to discover whether comparisons can be made between the conceptualisations of individuals from different parts of the UK particularly with regard to British or nation-based identities.

In this paper, I investigated the way individuals construe their national identity belonging. I then compared the patterns in construal between geographical and national identity groups in Wales and England. Using Cognitive Discourse Analysis (CODA, Tenbrink 2020), a micro-linguistic analysis of lexico-grammatical patterns was carried out on data collected from an online survey. The analysis focused on the most frequently used processes in clauses stating national identity belonging using process type analysis (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014), that is, categorising them as relational, mental, verbal, or material processes. Following the underlying principles of Chilton’s Deictic Space Theory (2014), the grammatical structure was analysed in terms of tense and modality. The patterns in the data were abstracted and modelled to illustrate conceptual proximity or distance between the self and the national identity category. The frequency of the lexico-grammatical patterns was used to make tentative quantitative comparisons between identity groups in Wales and England, showing that not only is the British identity more popular in England than it is in Wales, but that people construe their national identity belonging differently according where and how they identify.

Individual conceptualisations of national identity, when analysed in this way, suggest that belonging is construed in terms of proximity and distance. This grammar of national identity could have implications for other identity discourses.

Chilton, P. 2014. Language, Space, and the Mind: a geometry of linguistic meaning. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press

Halliday, M. & Matthiessen, C. 2013. Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Routledge

Tenbrink, T. 2020. Cognitive Discourse Analysis: an introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

85 | Iman Al Mulla

‘No to mandatory vaccines’: A DHA analysis of Arabic Anti-vaxxers' Discourse on Twitter

After the introduction of several COVID-19 vaccines by different pharmaceutical companies, anti-vaxxers’ discourse has become an extremely hot topic that is dominating different social media platforms. While there is a growing number of studies that deal with this topic (Ma and Stahl, 2017; Gunaratne, Coomes, and Haghbayan, 2019; Ortiz-Sánchez et al. 2020; Wu, Lyu and Luo, 2021), Arabic anti-vaxxers’ discourse is yet to be investigated. Thus, the aim of this research is to critically examine various strategies that revolve around the Arabic anti-vaccine discourse on Twitter. Due to the popularity of this particular platform in the Arab world, this research will examine how anti-vaxxer discourse is constructed in one specific Arabic anti-vaxxer hashtag called #لا للتطعيم الاجباري, which is translated into ‘no to mandatory vaccines’. This hashtag is chosen because of its popularity among Arab COVID-19 vaccine opponents. This is to uncover the argumentation strategies that are employed by the hashtag contributors to justify their stances and to investigate how they position their points of view to express involvement and/or distance. Moreover, the research aims to answer how anti-vaxxers' claims are intensified and/or mitigated. The methodology of the research will adopt a qualitative method that draws from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) tools to answer the research questions. First, the data will be collected using a tool for providing Twitter analytics for the hashtag to determine the most popular tweets and times of tweeting. After that, the data will be coded and then analysed using the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) (Wodak, 2015) to uncover the argumentation, perspectivization, mitigation/intensification strategies employed by the hashtag contributors and the role that Twitter’s multi-modal and hyper-intertextual features may play in shaping the relevant discourse(s).


Gunaratne, K., Coomes, E.A. and Haghbayan, H., 2019. Temporal trends in anti-vaccine discourse on Twitter. Vaccine, 37(35), pp.4867-4871.

Ma, J. and Stahl, L., 2017. A multimodal critical discourse analysis of anti-vaccination information on Facebook. Library & Information Science Research, 39(4), pp.303-310.

Ortiz-Sánchez, E., Velando-Soriano, A., Pradas-Hernández, L., Vargas-Román, K., Gómez-Urquiza, J.L. and Albendín-García, L., 2020. Analysis of the anti-vaccine movement in social networks: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(15), p.5394.

Wodak, R., 2015. Critical discourse analysis, discourse‐historical approach. The international encyclopedia of language and social interaction, pp.1-14.

Wu, W., Lyu, H. and Luo, J., 2021. Characterizing Discourse about COVID-19 Vaccines: A Reddit Version of the Pandemic Story. arXiv preprint arXiv:2101.06321.

133 | Marcus Müller & Jens O. Zinn

Prognostic Practices and Normalism in the Pandemic Discourse

This paper presents a study of normalism in press reports on the coronavirus pandemic in Germany and the UK. Normalism is a heuristic concept that shows how normality and normativity are fused in social discourses (Hall & Link 2004). At the macro-level of critical social analysis, processes and strategies of adapting deviant practices, perspectives and evaluations to existing social norms - and thus also to the idea of what is normal - are described as ‘normalisation’ (Taylor 2009, Krzyżanowski 2020). In contrast, we are interested in transformation processes of normalism on the micro-level. There is no doubt that assumptions about what is normal and the normative consequences are changing and under pressure in our time. The coronavirus pandemic is particularly contributing to a change in ascriptions of normality and their normative implications (Zinn 2020). In the course of the pandemic, one could observe how these became increasingly fragmented - to varying degrees and at different times in different countries.

In the coronavirus pandemic, normalism in this sense is particularly evident when prognoses about the normal state of society are discussed. Prognostic practices are found at numerous points in the discourse and in various degrees of explicitness. From the everyday prognosis of citizens captured in reportage (Müller & Zinn 2020), to programmatic (health) policy drafts, to the teleological implications of modal verbs (Müller 2021). Against this background, the paper reports on a diachronic study of normalism using a corpus of German and British press texts covering the first pandemic year 2020. We apply a sociologically informed corpus linguistic procedure by operationalising normality and normalism concepts and mapping them onto linguistic concepts (Müller, Bartsch &Zinn 2021). The corpus analyses use lexis and phraseology ("normal*," "future", "after the pandemic") as well as grammar (modal verbs with teleological meaning, grammatical future tense) as anchor constructions to determine and categorise discourse patterns of prognostic normalism and measure their distribution over the calendar weeks in 2020. We will use CQPweb for the corpus analysis. The results are then classified and contextualised in the framework of normalism theory.

Our corpus contains articles on the coronavirus pandemic from 01 February to 31 Dec 2020. They were retrieved from the media databases LexisNexis and ProQuest. We fetched 54,613 articles rom The Daily Mail, Evening Standard, The Daily Mirror, The Guardian and The Times (UK) and 62,175 articles from Bild plus, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Die ZEIT, FAZ, Stuttgarter Zeitung and taz.


Hall, M. M. & Link, J. (2004). On the Contribution of Normalism to Modernity and Postmodernity. Cultural Critique No. 57, 33-46

Krzyżanowski, M. (2020). Normalization and the discursive construction of “new” norms and “new” normality: discourse in the paradoxes of populism and neoliberalism. Social Semiotics, 30:4, 431-448, DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2020.1766193

Müller, M., Bartsch, S. & Zinn, J.O. (2021): Communicating the unknown. An interdisciplinary annotation study of uncertainty in the coronavirus pandemic. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 26(4). Special Issue ‘Language and Covid-19’, ed. by M. Mahlberg & G. Brookes: 498-531.

Müller, M. (2021). Necessity, norm and missing knowledge. What modals tell us about crisis response in German COVID-19 reporting. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik. (online first). DOI: 10.1007/s41244-021-00212-4

Taylor, D. (2009). “Normativity and Normalization.” Foucault Studies 7: 45–63.

Zinn, J. O. (2020). 'A monstrous threat': how a state of exception turns into a 'new normal'. Journal of Risk Research, pp. 1-7. doi:10.1080/13669877.2020.1758194

137 | Maija Stenvall

Constructing anger in news agency reports on COVID-19 pandemic

My paper examines the emotion of anger in news agency reports on COVID-19 pandemic. Data come from Reuters and AP (the Associated Press) dispatches, collected between April 2020 and October 2021. My focus is on the noun ‘anger’, which I take to be a nominalization (cf. Halliday 1994). Since emotions are basically subjective experiences, something that is hidden in people’s mind, it can be hypothesized that reporting on anger involves a great deal of interpretation on the part of the writing journalist and poses special challenges for the journalistic ideal of ‘objectivity’.

Exploring news journalists’ stance on anger in this regard is one of my central aims. In the analysis, I draw, e.g., on Affect, a sub-system of the Appraisal framework (Martin and White 2005) and the subcategories of Affect, as suggested in Stenvall 2014.

When scholars have sought to identify the ‘basic’ emotions, ‘anger’ has appeared on every such list. Anger is negative, and thus especially newsworthy, but it is also said to have positive effects in spurring people to action (Breeze 2020: 25). A simple definition of anger characterizes it as “antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong” (APA website). But research shows that anger is a complex, multifaceted emotion, which often co-occurs with other feelings, too; for example, with fear or sadness (cf. Harmon-Jones and Berkowitz 2004). Moreover, when exploring mediated anger in news discourse, we have to keep in mind that it refers to “the emotion of anger as situated within the narrative of the journalistic text”, and does not represent the emotion “as felt in an individual” (Wahl-Jorgensen 2019: 93).

The examples of anger present a continuing, sad narrative of the pandemic and its recurring ‘waves’. In the first reports, anger combined with confusion is triggered, for example, by high and unspecified death toll in Spain (Reuters). More surprisingly, doctors and nurses helping people face hostility; in India, “a mob descended, slinging stones and screaming insults” (AP). Lockdowns and other restrictions “stoke” anger and lead to protests. In 2021, the narrative of anger changes, when the vaccinations start. On the one hand, “slow rollout prompts anger” (Reuters), on the other hand, anger spurs people to a wealth of protests, e.g., against mandatory vaccination or “health passes”.

Individual anger is almost non-existent in my data. Anger is collective, even referred to as “public anger”. The overwhelming majority of anger examples belong to the subcategory called constructed Affect (Stenvall 2014). Feelings are presented as free-floating entities, as affectual states, and since they are realized by nouns – and not by verbs or adjectives –, the connection between the emotion and the Emoter is often hidden.


APA website <>

Breeze, R. (2020). Angry tweets. A corpus-assisted study of anger in populist political discourse.


Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Harmon-Jones, E., & Berkowitz, L. (2004). Toward an Understanding of the Determinants of

Anger. Emotion 4(2): 107-130.

Martin, J.R., & White, P.R.R. (2005). The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English.

New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stenvall, M. (2014). Presenting and representing emotions in news agency reports – On

journalists' stance on affect vis-à-vis objectivity and factuality. Critical Discourse Studies

11/4, 461-481.

Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2019). Emotions, Media and Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press

147 | Siti Nurnadilla Mohamad Jamil

Negotiating racism in apologia during the pandemic: Critical Discourse Analysis of comments on Al Jazeera’s ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ (2020) Documentary

The Malaysian government’s perceived lack of empathy for the plight of migrant workers in Al-Jazeera’s ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’ (2020) documentary was taken as a violation of normative values. Many opine that the discrimination, racism, xenophobia portrayed in the video were uncalled for – especially during the pandemic. Since its broadcast, it had not only received a strong reaction from the Malaysian government who dismissed the report on the treatment of migrant workers during the movement control order (MCO) as an ˜inaccurate, misleading, and unfair” (The Star, 7 July 2020), it had also elicited numerous repudiations from Malaysian citizens. This paper is concerned with the counter narratives occurred in the discourse of defense (i.e. apologia) in the comments on the documentary. It focuses on the discursive micro-level of online defense strategies against the construction of negative self- or in-group impressions (see also van Dijk, 1992, p.92). In this paper, I approached apologia as argumentation, i.e. persuasive narrative that attempts to alter, mitigate and situate the interpretation of the alleged act. This study answers the following questions: What were the defining characteristics, the range and severity of such counter narratives? On what grounds were the migrant workers and Malaysians categorized, and how were they related to each other?

A total of 5,000 most relevant comments posted by users on the 101 East - Al Jazeera Facebook page published on 3 July 2020 were collected. The data were scraped using, an automated data extraction tool which enables comments from social media posts to be exported to Excel files. By “relevant comments”, I was referring to comments that are automatically ranked by Facebook, most likely high-quality comments relevant to the researchers which include comments from verified profiles and Pages, and comments with the most likes and replies. The analysis of the collected data was divided into two phases: quantitative content analysis (Phase 1) and critical textual analysis (Phase 2). The aim of Phase 1 was to get a ‘map’ of suggestive themes that marked the patterns and absences in the comments. This was done based on the apologia strategies I expanded from Ware & Linkuge’s (1973) seminal work on apologia categories as well as van Dijk’s (1992) work on ‘denial of racism’. These strategies include: (1) DENIAL, with its sub-strategies (act-denial, control-denial, intention-denial, goal-denial, denial of responsibility, mitigations, justification, excuse and reversal; (2) BOLSTERING; (3) DIFFERENTIATION; and (4) TRANSCENDENCE. To understand how Self and Others were positioned in the apologia offered to Al-Jazeera’s 2020 documentary, I first analysed the topoi occurred in the strategies before these comments were further dissected qualitatively using nomination and argumentation discursive strategies in Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) (Reisigl and Wodak, 2016). When analysing the topoi, I used both Boukala (2016) and Aristotleian’s (2004) topoi in Rhetoric to guide my own list in context of the arguments occurred in my own data.The findings suggest that while Malaysia reposition themselves and Other in order to defend their reputation and clean their name; it is hard not to notice how racism/discrimination is also negotiated at the same time. Justifying racism/discrimination/xenophobia only widen the gap between the Us group and the Other group in Malaysia's apologia during the pandemic.


Aristotle (350BCE). Rhetoric. Trans. W. Rhys Roberts. New York: Modern Library, 2004.

Al-Jazeera English (3 July 2020). ‘Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown’. You Tube.

Boukala, S. (2016). Rethinking topos in the discourse historical approach: Endoxon seeking and argumentation in Greek media discourses on ‘Islamist terrorism.’ Discourse Studies, 18(3), 249–268.

Reisigl, M. & Wodak, R. (2016). The Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA). In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (eds.), Methods of critical discourse studies (pp. 23-61). 3rd ed. London: SAGE.

The Star (7 July 2020). Govt hits out at Al Jazeera over false reporting. Retrieved from

van Dijk, T. A. (1992). Discourse and the Denial of Racism. Discourse & Society, 3(1), 87–118.

Ware, B., L. & Linkugel, W., A. (1973). They spoke in defense of themselves: On the generic criticism of apologia, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 59(3), pp. 273-283, DOI:10.1080/00335637309383176

170 | William Dance, Tara Coltman-Patel, Elena Semino, Claire Hardaker, & Zsófia Demjén

A corpus linguistic exploration of (combative) vaccination discussions on Mumsnet’s AIBU

A corpus linguistic exploration of (combative) vaccination discussions on Mumsnet’s AIBU

This paper presents a corpus-based discourse analysis of a particular manifestation of conflict in discussions about vaccinations on Mumsnet, the UK’s largest parenting website.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the top 10 global health threats identified by the World Health Organisations included ‘vaccine hesitancy’ - ‘a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services’. It is also well documented that online information and interactions play a role in attitudes and decision-making around vaccines, including by generating polarisation on this topic (Stahl et al., 2016).

With 1.16bn page views a year, Mumsnet is used as a source of information about immunisation by 29% of parents, double the proportion of Facebook and Twitter (13%) and second only to official NHS websites (Campbell et al., 2017). Although some posts are deleted according to the site’s moderation policy, Mumsnet is regarded as a straight-talking, robust platform for parenting discussions, and their most popular Talk Topic, ‘Am I being unreasonable?’ or AIBU, has been described as particularly combative (Pederson and Smithson 2013).

We employed the corpus linguistic technique of ‘keyness’ analysis to compare a corpus consisting of all AIBU threads that include the search strings vaccin* or vaxx* in the ‘original post’ (6,269,560 words), with a corpus compiled using the same criteria from three health-related Mumsnet topics: general health; children’s health; and coronavirus (14,976,311 words). The resulting 323 keywords (statistically overused lexical items) include multiple candidates for evidence of conflict about vaccinations, e.g. ‘patronising’ and ‘offensive’ as descriptions of communicative behaviour on the forum. In this paper we focus on nine keywords that can be used as insults, i.e.: ‘arse’, ‘bitch’, ‘cunt’, ‘idiot’, ‘knob’, ‘morons’, ‘twat’, ‘dick’ and ‘cow’.

All occurrences of these potential insults were manually coded for the writer’s inferred vaccine stance, the target of the insult, and the target’s inferred vaccine stance. Our analysis shows that 72% of the writers producing insults appear to lean towards a pro-vaccination stance. Targets are most frequently third-party individuals outside of the forum, and particularly family members whose behaviour or attitudes about vaccinations were negatively evaluated by the author of the original post. These family members represent a mixture of pro and anti-vaccination leanings.

We show how, by addressing insults at the original poster’s family members, Mumsnet users tend to confirm that the original poster is not ‘unreasonable’ in their negative evaluation, thereby validating their predominantly pro-vaccination attitudes and intentions. At the same time, however, this validation encourages a dismissive or uncompromising approach in discussions about vaccinations outside the forum that can potentially increase conflict in family relationships.

Overall, our findings challenge a straightforward association between conflictual communication and ‘anti-vax’ attitudes (Hotez, 2021), and suggest a nuanced and complex picture of stances and interactions about vaccinations in online environments.

Campbell, H., Edwards, A., Letley, L., Bedford, H., Ramsay, M., & Yarwood, J. (2017). Changing attitudes to childhood immunisation in English parents. Vaccine, 35(22), 2979-2985. doi:

Hotez, P. (2021). COVID vaccines: time to confront anti-vax aggression. Nature, 592(7856), 661. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-01084-x

Stahl, J. P., Cohen, R., Denis, F., Gaudelus, J., Martinot, A., Lery, T., & Lepetit, H. (2016). The impact of the web and social networks on vaccination. New challenges and opportunities offered to fight against vaccine hesitancy. Med Mal Infect, 46(3), 117-122. doi:10.1016/j.medmal.2016.02.002

249 | Diego Palacios

Affective regimes in Ecuadorian education policy during Covid-19 pandemic

Covid-19 pandemic has significantly (re)defined norms and normativities that organize human life on a global-local scale. Indeed, the new normality has emerged as an apparatus that captures, models, controls and ensures human dispositions (Agamben, 2009). In Ecuador, this apparatus has been deployed to address the health-economy dilemma and to (re)install a set of practices to control and conduct the ways of living and dying in the face of the viral threat. Furthermore, pandemic has intensified perspectives that position emotions as a main target of educational policies, where they are understood as excesses that must be controlled and managed since they alter the harmony that should characterize educational processes (Palacios & Hidalgo, 2021).

My research aim is to explore the affective regimes (AR) emerging in Ecuadorian educational policies to address emotional problems during the pandemic. The notion of AR refers to “the set of conditions that govern with varying degrees of hegemonic status the ways in which particular kinds of affect can be appropriately materialized” (Wee, 2016, p. 109). AR produce and distribute norms and normativities that encourage, either explicitly or implicitly, certain affects while discouraging others, and operate as a technology that contributes to controlling the capacities to act of subjects (Zembylas, 2021).

Methodologically, I explore from a critical affective-discursive analysis approach (Wetherell, 2013) the emerging, open, and intertwined affective-discursive patterns that shape social practices. Thus, I built a textual corpus where the primary document is the Guide for Emotional Support, developed by the Ministry of Education to provide emotional guidelines to families and their children. Additionally, I integrated three policy documents to frame the context, since they offer a regulatory framework for emotional support in schools. The analysis unfolds through an exploration of interpretive repertoires (Wetherell et al., 2015), focusing on recurring ways of saying/doing in emotional support.

Finally, I propose an AR that is organized into two affective-discursive threads: 1) Emotions in crisis; 2) Emotional support by (non)experts. The former shows a conceptual frame that understands emotions as overflowing, antagonistic and inhibitory forces of cognitive processes, and almost exclusively manageable by experts. The latter offers the conditions of possibility to manage and intervene emotions, both from what families usually do and from what experts suggest. Thus, a discursive technologization displaces the usual family practices, which are characterized as insufficient strategies or as justifying fallacies that would avoid assuming parental responsibilities. I discuss these findings recognizing the risks of decontextualization and depoliticization promoted by this AR and questioning how emotions are mobilized to support fantasies of progress that ultimately condition possibilities for good life of the most oppressed in the pandemic world.


Agamben, G. (2009). What is an apparatus? And other essays. Standford University Press.

Palacios, D. & Hidalgo, F. (2021). In the name of integrality and living in harmony: Genealogy of Student Counselling Departments in Ecuador. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(1).

Wee, L. (2016). Situating affect in linguistic landscapes. Linguistic Landscape, 2(2), 105-126.

Wetherell, M. (2013). Affect and discourse – what’s the problem? From affect as excess to Affective/Discursive Practice. Subjectivity, 6(4), 349-368.

Wetherell, M., McCreanor, T., McConville, A. & Moewaka, H. (2015). Settling space and covering the nation: some conceptual considerations in analysing affect and discourse. Emotion, Space and Society, 16, 56-64.

Zembylas, M. (2021). Theorizing the affective regime of “best practice” in education policy. European Educational Research Journal, 0(0), 1-14.

269 | Sumin Zhao & Chris Cummins

The rhetoric of numbers and Covid-19 discourses on social media

Statistical data – death tolls, hospitalisation rates, vaccination rates, R-numbers—have played a prominent role in Covid-19 discourses. Numbers are foregrounded in government briefings and news reporting, shaping public debates on pandemic measures such as lockdowns and vaccinations. Statisticians became unlikely influencers on social media. While statistics and numbers are often seen as “objective” and “factual”, they can nevertheless be exploited for rhetorical and argumentative effects (Cummins and Franke 2021). Presenting numbers in a particular can potentially advance different and mutually irreconcilable narratives about a situation, that is, a speaker/writer can select among the many truthful ways of describing reality with numerical data to produce a specific discursive effect. For instance, if the case rate increases from 1% to 2%, this can be described as either a 'doubling' or as a '1% increase'."

Combing discourse methods for analysing social media (e.g. Zappavigna, 2012; Zhang & Zhao, 2020; Benson, 2016) and pragmatic theories of numbers, our project sets out to understand how numbers have been used to promote and justify particular policy decisions and personal choices on social media during the global pandemic. In this talk we focus on stances on Covid vaccination, i.e. promoting or objecting to it. Specifically, we explore:

1) What numbers are used (e.g. raw numbers, percentages, logarithms) by different social agents, and how (e.g. in visual graphs, in tables) to justify their stance on vaccination.

2) Whether and how numeric expressions are related to an agent’s social and professional identities and explicitly expressed stance on vaccination.

The study focuses primarily on the UK context. The dataset consists of posts/videos discussing the importance of vaccination for reducing hospitalisation and death rates on social media. We sample posts/videos discussing the topic by UK national media (BBC, Sky, ITV, Guardian, Telegraph, and Daily Mail); prominent public health experts and statisticians on YouTube and Twitter (e.g. @MaxCRoser; @d_spiegel; @devisridhar) together with the comments below/response to the original videos/posts. We then identify all posts containing numerical expressions and code them for their formats of expression and pragmatic functions such as argumentative orientation or entailment direction. These posts are coded for explicitly expressed stance on vaccination (against, for, and neutral). We then cross-reference the two sets of coding to establish possible correlation. The findings of this analysis will offer insights into how quantitative (mis)information is circulated on social media and used for promoting a (harmful) social agenda.

Benson, P. (2016). The discourse of YouTube: Multimodal text in a global context. Routledge.

Cummins C and Franke M (2021) Rational Interpretation of Numerical Quantity in Argumentative Contexts. Front. Commun. 6:662027. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2021.662027

Zappavigna, M. (2012). Discourse of Twitter and social media: How we use language to create affiliation on the web. Bloomsbury.

Zhang, L. T., & Zhao, S. (2020). Diaspora micro-influencers and COVID-19 communication on social media: The case of Chinese-speaking YouTube vloggers. Multilingua, 39(5), 553-563.


234 | Manuela Romano & Maria Josep Cuenca

Similes as ideological tools: A case study on Covid19 Pandemic

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, discourse analysts have been tracking its conceptualization and communication through the media. Most of this work has concentrated on the role of metaphor in the construal of specific cognitive frames (Filardo-Llamas 2020; Gillis 2020; Olza et al. 2021; Pérez-Sobrino et al. in press; Sabucedo et al. 2020; Semino 2021; Wicke & Bolognesi 2020). While this paper contributes to this line of research, it analyses a similar but different conceptualizing device, i.e. simile.

Drawing on recent socio-cognitive and empirical approaches to similes (Authors in press; Bernárdez 2009, Cuenca 2015, Dancygier & Sweetser 2014; Romano 2017), this study follows the idea that the differences in form between metaphors (A is B) and similes (A is like B) necessarily bring different cognitive and discursive functions. According to this non-equivalent approach, similes, as overtly marked structures, imply more cognitive and conceptual complexity (Bernárdez 2009; Bowdle & Gentner 2005; Dancygier & Sweetser 2014; Israel et al. 2004; Moder 2012) and thus, in our opinion, prove particularly useful to call attention and raise awareness on the dangers of the new virus.

The data analyzed include 200 constructions from English and Spanish digital media containing VIRUS as the target of the simile, that is, (CORONA)VIRUS IS LIKE X (100 belonging to the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 and 100 to its spread throughout 2021). Results show that the similes identified: (i) perform specific cognitive and discursive functions in communicating the pandemic, both descriptive and persuasive (ii) show a great creativity and variety of source and target domains in order to keep interlocutors’ attention throughout the long extension of the pandemic; and (iii) present culture specific tendencies. A ‘diachronic’ analysis, considering their evolution in time, allows to observe how ideology has an influence on the selection of source and target domains.

In short, the dataset analyzed contributes to the already prolific line of research on the use of figuration in the communication of the pandemic, as well as to the study of similes as powerful ideological tools construing specific frames for the shaping of public opinion on one of the most threatening events taking place worldwide in the last years.


Bernárdez, E. (2009). Comparaciones explícitas con wie en Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, de Robert Musil. Una aproximación cognitiva. Revista de Filología Alemana 1, 57-72.

Cuenca, M. J. (2015). Beyond compare: Similes in interaction. Review of Cognitive Linguistics 31(1), 140-166.

Filardo-Llamas, L. (2020). Tsunamis, waves, Quixotes, and KO-vid: Metaphors about the pandemic as seen in cartoons. Mètode Science Studies Journal - Annual Review 11.

Gillis, M. (2020). Ventilators, missiles, doctors, troops … The justification of legislative responses to COVID-19 through military metaphors. Law and Humanities 14 (2). 135-159.

Olza, I., Koller, V., Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I., Pérez-Sobrino, P. & Semino, E. (in press). The #ReframeCovid initiative: From Twitter to society via metaphor. Metaphor and the Social World.

Romano, M. (2017). Are metaphor and similes interchangeable? A case study in opinion discourse. Review of Cognitive Linguistics 15(1), 1-33.

Sabucedo, J. M. Alzate, M. & Hur, D. (2020). COVID-19 and the metaphor of war. International Journal of Social Psychology 35(3), 618-624.

Semino, E. (2021) “Not Soldiers but Fire-fighters” – Metaphors and Covid-19. Health Communication 36(1): 50-58.

Pérez-Sobrino, P., Semino, E., Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I., Koller, V., & Olza, I. (in press). Acting like a hedgehog in times of pandemic: Metaphorical creativity in the #ReframeCovid collection. Metaphor and Symbol.

Wicke, Ph. & Bolognesi, M. M. (2020) Framing COVID-19: How we conceptualize and discuss the pandemic on Twitter. PloS One. 15 (9).

256 | Robbie Love & Erika Darics

Digital public communication in the pandemic: A corpus-based analysis of Covid-19 local government social media posts

Communication has played a critical role during the response to and management of the Covid-19 pandemic, and communicators have had a particularly hard task navigating the ‘infodemic’ and persuading different types of audiences to comply with ever-changing regulations. Lots of attention has been paid to national government communications in the context of Covid-19 (e.g. Dada et al. 2021). In comparison, the role of local governments has been relatively under-studied. Local government organisations play a crucial role in recontextualising the national messaging for a local audience and encouraging the public to comply with regulations.

This paper discusses our work with local government organisations in England to examine their communication strategies during the Covid-19 pandemic and develop guidelines for future crisis communications. Our research is based on a corpus of Facebook and Twitter posts about Covid-19 produced by six English local government organisations during the second UK national lockdown in November-December 2020.

Our study analyses the occurrence and function of interactive engagement markers (Hyland, 2005) such as personal pronouns, questions, hashtags and emojis. Building on the premises that (a) audiences are more likely to comply if they are engaged with health messaging, and (b) the public find local government organisations to be more trustworthy than national governments (Coleman et al. 2020), our analysis shows how such linguistic features encourage engagement, demonstrably helping foster relatedness through ambiguity; creating autonomy-supporting communication; and making messages stand out.

Based on our corpus-based discourse analysis, we make recommendations for future crisis communications and argue for more attention to be paid to the many local communicators who play an invaluable role in encouraging the public to comply with national measures in times of crisis.


Coleman, S., Konstantinova, N., & Moss, G. (2020). The pandemic and its publics: how people receive, interpret and act upon official guidance. University of Leeds.

Dada, S., Ashworth, H. C., Bewa, M. J., & Dhatt, R. (2021). Words matter: political and gender analysis of speeches made by heads of government during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ Global Health, 6(e003910). doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003910

Hyland, K. (2005). Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies, 7(2), 173-192.

280 | Yuze Sha

Who is Leading the Debate? The Representation of Different Groups of Social Actors in COVID-19 News Reports in the UK

Particularly during public health emergencies, the mass media acts as a window on the world for the public, helping to update them on the contemporary situation and protection measures (World Health Organisation, 2005). Yet news discourse is permeated with particular values which it communicates to its audiences (Altheide, 2006), which can in turn influence individuals’, potentially changing these to the extent that they align with news agencies’ “preferred understanding” (Van Dijk, 1995, p.14) of particular events. One of the ways that such ideological values are embedded into news coverage is in how social actors are represented, with particular arguments, social actors and groups being foregrounded while others are backgrounded.

This paper reports a corpus-based critical discourse analysis of the representations of different groups of social actors in COVID-19 news reports in the UK. To do this, I integrated the attitudinal dimension of Appraisal Framework into the Discourse-Historical Approach to examine the news articles from the top three British newspapers (by circulation; i.e. The Sun, The Metro and The Daily Mail). Using LexisNexis, the most relevant articles about the three prominent COVID-19 policies (i.e. quarantine, rule of six, and vaccinations) published between 1st March 2020 and 1st March 2021 were collected. The data was analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively to answer the following research questions: what prominent groups of social actors are discussed/excluded in COVID-19 news reports in the UK? What particular traits, characteristics and attitudes are attached to these people?

Following a corpus-based method, I first coded the actors according to their socioeconomic and physical factors mentioned in the reports, then examined their representations through the five dimensions of the framework. The main findings can be summarised by classifying the social actors into 1) academics and scientists; 2) government officials; 3) the general public. Firstly, though people without prominent socioeconomic status, or the general public, are mentioned frequently in the reports, they appear mostly as basic collectives and numbers and are generally “muted” in the rational discussions about policy implementation and impact. Their engagement is mostly shown in the emotional expressions of their confusion or desperation about the situation. Secondly, the government officials appear slightly less than the public but express their opinions predominantly the most in the discussions about all the three policies. Finally, though quoted more frequently than the general public, the academics and scientists, who are the experts in this public health emergency and are supposed to lead the general discussions, are allocated significantly lower proportions of power of expression compared to the politicians in the articles.

The present study reveals that while the news reports may appear to balance the representations of the public, politicians and experts, detailed analysis shows that the reality is quite the opposite. It also gives cause to question the insufficient foregrounding of the voices of academics and experts in the news.


Altheide, D. L. (2006). Terrorism and the Politics of Fear. Cultural Studies? Critical Methodologies, 6(4), 415-439.

van Dijk, T. A. (1995). Power and the news media. Political communication and action, 6(1), 9-36.

World Health Organization. (2005). Effective media communication during public health emergencies: a WHO field guide (No. WHO/CDS/2005.31 a). World Health Organization.

300 | Hossein Kermani

Coronavirus in hybrid contexts: a rhetorical analysis of Hassan Rouhani’s speeches during the pandemic

The outbreak of Coronavirus in 2020 created a rhetorical situation (Bitzer, 1968) in which political leaders in almost all countries around the world found themselves obliged to speak to their people — to command, to supply information, to praise or blame — in order to respond appropriately to the situation. The existing literature has studied discursive and framing practices of political leaders during this uncertain state of the world to manage the crisis, with a particular focus to the democratic countries. Another line of study has taken a comparative approach to analyse the differences and similarities between framing and rhetorical practices among political leaders in different countries.

Unlike Western democracies, hybrid regimes, which are neither rigorously liberal-democratic nor authoritarian but combine some features of both, create more complicated political environments for politicians to address the public. Political leaders, in particular those that belong to moderate parties, have to answer citizens’ liberal demands and authorities repressive concerns at the same time. Nonetheless, there is not much research into how moderate politicians in hybrid political systems developed rhetorical discourses in time of the pandemic to shore up antagonistic groups, e.g., hardliner figures and dissident citizens.

In order to address this gap, I took a rhetoric and discursive approach to investigate the speeches of Hassan Rouhani, the ex-president of Iran, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Drawing on the existing literature into framing and rhetoric analyses (Bitzer, 1968; Lakoff & Johnson, 1990; Martin, 2015; Vatz, 1973), I analysed all of Rouhani’s speeches from February 2, 2020 to April 27, 2020 (in total: 30) to understand how he rhetorically framed the covid crisis. First, I identified the salient frames in his speeches, and then I analysed the metaphors and rhetorical devises he employed to articulate the frames, as well as connect them to other discourses, actors, and exigencies. In an attempt to analyse his audience and the effects of his rhetoric discourse, I also investigated the frames and rhetorical practices which have emerged in two other samples. The first sample was made of all the speeches by 3 high-rank clergies in Iran (Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader; Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday Prayer leader in Mashhad; and Mohammad Saeidi, the Friday Prayer leader in Qom ). These figures arguably represent the ultra-conservative part of the Islamic republic to a great extent. To understand the ordinary citizens’ opinions and reactions, I analysed a random sample of a dataset of 162354 Persian tweets (n= 4500) which had been sent at the timeframe of this research, using ‘Rouhani’ as a keyword or hashtag. Investigating these three samples sheds more lights on the complexities of rhetorical discourses produced in hybrid regimes at the time of coronavirus crisis. Findings reveal how Rouhani rhetorically moved back and forth cleverly to satisfy all sides involved. Results also emphasize while Rouhani produced some frames which are also common in democratic countries (e.g., assuring responsive governance), he developed more context-specific frames as well (e.g., countering with the United States). This research contributes to the ongoing body of literature into the ways that political and rhetorical discourses have been produced during the global health crises.


Bitzer, L. F. (1968). The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 1(1), 1–14.

Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1990). Metaphors we live by. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Martin, J. (2015). Situating Speech: A Rhetorical Approach to Political Strategy. Political Studies, 63(1), 25–42.

Vatz, R. E. (1973). The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 6(3).

308 | Gerardo Costabile Nicoletta

“Because of people like you…”. Banal politics and the apparatus of responsabilization in the Italian pandemic context

The outbreak of the pandemic has exacerbated consolidated discursive conflicts in Italy. Indeed, the new discourses of health crisis are re-articulating old debates about the unevenness of the Italian civil society. Moving from stereotyping of the Italian citizenship, institutional communications have called citizens to be ‘responsible’, that is, to act as an extension of administrative state apparatuses. In this context media and institutional communicative practices have been fundamental gears of these governmental technologies aiming at the construction of new sites of political authority as well as legal jurisdictions on private life. This paper aims to understand how media and institutional communicative practices have been appropriated or contested by populations through qualitative discourse analysis of a corpus of social media commentaries. However, the symbolic-emotional impact of the covid-crisis management measures has not equally affected the population. If, on the one hand, a strong conformism to public institutions discourses emerged in the name of “the community”, on the other hand, many conflictual reactions arose. Looking at ‘banal politics’ circulating in social media commentaries, the paper proposed will try to picture failures and successes of the apparatus of responsabilization emerged in the Italian Covid crisis. Theoretically, the paper draws on discourse and governmentalities to deal with how Covid-19 discourse is reconfiguring political subjectivities through the normalization of specific conceptions of the political. Methodologically, the paper combines discourse analysis of institutional communications and media practices with the analysis of receiver reactions studied through discourse analysis of social media commentaries. The analysis is based on a corpus of the regional government press release, news reporting on the social media accounts of mainstream press with the commentaries on Instagram and Facebook in the period between October 2021 to December 2021. The mapping of the users’ comments to media and institutional communications, the paper ventures, can provide valuable insights to understand how an apparatus of responsabilization is constructing new political subjectivities in the context of the Italian covid crisis management.

313 | Erika Abarca Millán, Denisse Lillo, & Katiuska Oyarzún

Language teachers’ identity construction before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A critical discourse analysis using the Appraisal system

This study examines identity representations at a prosodic level of seven teachers involved in a Professional Development program (PDP) in Chile before and during the pandemic. This PDP for teachers aims at improving students’ writing skills through continuous teacher development is part of a nation-wide special access program to university that has as its main purpose to improve students’ writing skills, which in turn should improve their possibilities to successfully enter, remain and graduate from higher education.

This study expands from a previous study (Alvarado et al., 2021) and it was guided by the following research questions: (a) What are teachers’ identity representations? (b) Are there any changes in representation when comparing before and during COVID-19?

This study used three semi-structured interviews (Rubin & Rubin, 2012) (two done during the 2018-2020 period and one done in 2022) with seven female teachers who participated in a professional development program from 2018 to 2020. Drawing from a critical discourse analysis approach (Machin & Mayr; van Leeuwen, 2008) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2014), in particular, the Appraisal system (Oteiza, 2017; Martin & White, 2005), we analyzed interviews based on how teachers positioned themselves and their students before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, we focused on attitudinal resources (affect, judgement, appreciation). Findings will shed light on whether and how the pandemic had an effect on the way teachers represent themselves in the (new?) normal classroom. In turn, this study will contribute to a better understanding of how teachers have re-conceptualized their roles in the language classroom based on the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and how this change in roles could have a lasting effect on instruction.


Alvarado, C., Pino, N., Loyola, R., Arenas, C. (2021) “¿Problemas de escritura? Experiencias de docentes en torno al ejercicio de escribir en el aula”. Editorial LOM.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2014). Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar (4th ed.). Routledge.

Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How to do Critical Discourse Analysis. A multimodal introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English (1st ed.).

Oteíza, T. (2017). The appraisal framework and discourse analysis. In T. Bartlett & G. O’Grady (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Systemic Functional Linguistics (pp. 457–472).

Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (2012). Qualitative Interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. New tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford University Press.