Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2214-3157
  • E-ISSN: 2214-3165
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Cross-cultural variation in the metaphors that are employed by healthcare researchers and professionals when discussing cancer care is a potential impediment to the sharing of expertise. By identifying patterns in the metaphorical language used in these contexts, we can reveal differences in how healthcare practitioners understand cancer and its treatments, thus enabling more effective intercultural communication in the field of oncology. To this end, the use of metaphor in collocations of the word ‘treatment’ in nursing journals published in British English, mainland Chinese, and Taiwanese Chinese is compared. Our analysis reveals differences regarding the agency given to the cancer, its treatment, and the patient; the interrelatedness of different bodily functions and organs; and the emphasis that is placed on the course of treatment as a whole as opposed to its individual stages.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Anthony, L.
    (2019) AntConc (Version 3.5.8) [Computer Software]. Tokyo: Waseda University. Online: https://www.laurenceanthony.net/software
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Becker, G.
    (1999) Disrupted lives: How people create meaning in a chaotic world. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bleakley, A.
    (2017) Thinking with metaphors in medicine: The state of the art. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315389448
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315389448 [Google Scholar]
  4. Boyd, R.
    (1993) Metaphor and theory change: What is ‘metaphor’ a metaphor for?InA. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (2nd ed., pp.481–532). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.023
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.023 [Google Scholar]
  5. Brown, T.
    (2003) Making truth: Metaphor in science. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Cameron, L. & Low, G. D.
    (2004) Figurative variation in episodes of educational talk and text. European Journal of English Studies, 8(3), 355–373. 10.1080/1382557042000277430
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1382557042000277430 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cai, X.
    (2006) Chinese language dictionary. Taiwan: Chinese Culture Association.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chard, R.
    (1994) Rituals and Scriptures of the stove cults. InD. Johnson (Ed.), Ritual and scripture in Chinese popular religion: Five studies (Publications of the Chinese Popular Culture Project, 3) (pp.3–54). Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Conti, A. A.
    (2018) Historical evolution of the concept of health in Western medicine. Acta Bio-medica: Atenei Parmensis, 89(3), 352–354. 10.23750/abm.v89i3.6739
    https://doi.org/10.23750/abm.v89i3.6739 [Google Scholar]
  10. Degner, L. F., Hack, T., O’Neil, J. & Kristjanson, L. J.
    (2003) A new approach to eliciting meaning in the context of breast cancer. Cancer Nursing, 26(3), 169–178. 10.1097/00002820‑200306000‑00001
    https://doi.org/10.1097/00002820-200306000-00001 [Google Scholar]
  11. Deignan, A.
    (2008) Corpus linguistics and metaphor. InR. Gibbs, Jr. (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of metaphor and thought (pp.280–294). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511816802.018
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511816802.018 [Google Scholar]
  12. Deignan, A., Littlemore, J. & Semino, E.
    (2013) Figurative language, genre and register. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Demjén, Z., Semino, E., Hardie, A., Payne, S. & Rayson, P.
    (2018) Metaphor, cancer and the end of life: A corpus-based study. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Demjén, Z., Semino, E. & Koller, V.
    (2016) Metaphors for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deaths: A health professional view. Metaphor and the Social World, 6(1), 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Duanmu, S.
    (2013) How many Chinese words have elastic length?InG. Peng & S. Feng, Eastward flows the great river: Festschrift in honor of Prof. William S-Y. Wang on his 80th birthday (pp.1–14). Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Dubos, R.
    (1959) The mirage of health. New York: Harper & Brothers.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Genette, G.
    (2005) Essays in aesthetics. London: University of Nebraska Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Gibbs, R. W.
    (2021) Important discoveries in the study of metaphor in world Englishes. InM. Callies & M. Degani (Eds.), Metaphor in language and culture across world Englishes (pp.15–32). New York: Bloomsbury. 10.5040/9781350157569.ch‑002
    https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350157569.ch-002 [Google Scholar]
  19. Goatly, A.
    (2007) Washing the brain: Metaphor and hidden ideology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/dapsac.23
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.23 [Google Scholar]
  20. Goddard, C. & Wierzbicka, A.
    (2014) Sweet, hot, hard, heavy, rough and sharp: Physical quality words in cross-linguistic perspective. InC. Goddard, & A. Wierzbicka, Words and meanings: Lexical semantics across domains, languages, and cultures (pp.55–79). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Gök, A. & Kara, A.
    (2022) Individuals’ conceptions of COVID-19 pandemic through metaphor analysis. Current Psychology, 411, 449–458. 10.1007/s12144‑021‑01506‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-01506-z [Google Scholar]
  22. Grady, J. E.
    (1997) Foundations of meaning: Primary metaphors and primary scenes. PhD Dissertation. Berkeley: University of California.
  23. Hanne, M.
    (2015) Diagnosis and Metaphor. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 58(1), 35–52. 10.1353/pbm.2015.0010
    https://doi.org/10.1353/pbm.2015.0010 [Google Scholar]
  24. Hui, E.
    (1999) Concepts of health and disease in traditional Chinese medicine. InH. Coward & P. Ratanakul, A cross-cultural dialogue on health care ethics (pp.34–46). Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Kleinman, A.
    (1995): Writing at the margin. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Kövecses, Z.
    (2005) Metaphor in culture: Universality and variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511614408
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511614408 [Google Scholar]
  27. Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M.
    ([1980] 2003) Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Lang, J.
    (2020) Neological cancer metaphors in the Chinese cyberspace: Uses and social meanings. Chinese Language and Discourse, 11(2), 261–286. 10.1075/cld.19014.lan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cld.19014.lan [Google Scholar]
  29. Low, G., Littlemore, J. & Koester, A.
    (2008) Metaphor use in three UK university lectures. Applied Linguistics, 29(3), 428–455. 10.1093/applin/amn008
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amn008 [Google Scholar]
  30. Lu, L. & Ahrens, K.
    (2008) Ideological influence on BUILDING metaphors in Taiwanese presidential speeches. Discourse and Society, 191, 383–408. 10.1177/0957926508088966
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926508088966 [Google Scholar]
  31. Ma, D., Wang, S., Shi, Y., Ni, S., Tang, M. & Xu, A.
    (2021) The development of traditional Chinese medicine. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences, 8(S1), S1–S9. 10.1016/j.jtcms.2021.11.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcms.2021.11.002 [Google Scholar]
  32. MacArthur, F., Krennmayr, T. & Littlemore, J.
    (2015) How basic is “understanding is seeing” when reasoning about knowledge? Asymmetric uses of sight Metaphors in office hours consultations in English as academic lingua franca. Metaphor and Symbol, 30(3), 184–217. 10.1080/10926488.2015.1049507
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2015.1049507 [Google Scholar]
  33. Ni, M. S.
    (1995) The Yellow Emperor’s classic of medicine (English translation). Boston: Shambala.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Nie, J. B.
    (2011) Medical ethics in China: A transcultural interpretation. London and New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Olza, I., Koller, V., Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I., Pérez Sobrino, P. & Semino, E.
    (2021) The #ReframeCovid initiative: From Twitter to society via metaphor. Metaphor and the Social World, 11(1), 98–120. Online: https://benjamins.com/catalog/msw.00013.olz. 10.1075/msw.00013.olz
    https://doi.org/10.1075/msw.00013.olz [Google Scholar]
  36. Palma, H. A.
    (2018) Metaphors in science: A change of perspective. InJ. Horne (Ed.), Philosophical perceptions on logic and order (pp.242–254). IGI Global. 10.4018/978‑1‑5225‑2443‑4.ch008
    https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-2443-4.ch008 [Google Scholar]
  37. Panzeri, F., Di Paola, S. & Domaneschi, F.
    (2021) Does the COVID-19 war metaphor influence reasoning?PloS ONE, 16(4), e0250651. 10.1371/journal.pone.0250651
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250651 [Google Scholar]
  38. Pérez-Sobrino, P., Semino, E., Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I., Koller, V. & Olza, I.
    (2022) Acting like a hedgehog in times of pandemic: Metaphorical creativity in the #ReframeCovid collection. Metaphor and Symbol, 37(2), 127–139. 10.1080/10926488.2021.1949599
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2021.1949599 [Google Scholar]
  39. Porter, R.
    (1997) The greatest benefit to mankind: A medical history of humanity from antiquity to the present. London: Fontana.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. (2006) The Cambridge history of medicine. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Pragglejaz Group
    Pragglejaz Group (2007) MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol, 22(1), 1–39. 10.1080/10926480709336752
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926480709336752 [Google Scholar]
  42. Raphals, L.
    (2020) “Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition). InE. N. Zalta (Ed.), Online: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2020/entries/chinese-phil-medicine/
  43. Reijnierse, G., Burgers, C., Krennmayr, T. & Steen, G.
    (2018) DMIP: A method for identifying potentially deliberate metaphor in language use. Corpus Pragmatics, 21, 129–147. 10.1007/s41701‑017‑0026‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s41701-017-0026-7 [Google Scholar]
  44. Ross, S. D.
    (1994) The limits of language. Fordham: Fordham University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Semino, E.
    (2021) “Not soldiers but fire-fighters” – Metaphors and Covid-19. Health Communication, 36(1), 50–58. 10.1080/10410236.2020.1844989
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1844989 [Google Scholar]
  46. Semino, E. & Demjén, Z.
    (2017) The cancer card: Metaphor, intimacy, and humour in online interactions about the experience of cancer. InB. Hampe (Ed.), Metaphor: Embodied cognition and discourse (pp.181–199). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108182324.011
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108182324.011 [Google Scholar]
  47. Semino, E., Demjén, Z. & Demmen, J.
    (2018) An integrated approach to metaphor and framing in cognition, discourse, and practice, with an application to metaphors for cancer. Applied Linguistics, 39(5), 625–645.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Sharifian, F.
    (2014) Conceptual metaphor in intercultural communication between speakers of Aboriginal English and Australian English. InA. Mussolff, & F. MacArthur. (Eds.) Metaphor and intercultural communication (pp.117–130). London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 10.5040/9781472593610.ch‑006
    https://doi.org/10.5040/9781472593610.ch-006 [Google Scholar]
  49. Silvano, G.
    (2021) A brief history of Western medicine. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences, 8(S), S10–S16. 10.1016/j.jtcms.2020.06.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcms.2020.06.002 [Google Scholar]
  50. Smolowitz, J., Honig, J. & Reinisch, C.
    (2010) Writing DNP clinical case narratives: demonstrating and evaluating competency in comprehensive care. New York: Springer.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Sontag, S.
    (1979) Illness as metaphor. New York: Vintage Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. (1989) Illness as metaphor and AIDS and its metaphors. New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Stanley, B. L., Zanin, A. C., Avalos, B. L., Tracy, S. J. & Town, S.
    (2021) Collective emotion during collective trauma: A metaphor analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative Health Research, 31(10), 1890–1903. 10.1177/10497323211011589
    https://doi.org/10.1177/10497323211011589 [Google Scholar]
  54. Steen, G., Dorst, L., Herrmann, J., Kaal, A., Krennmayr, T. & Pasma, T.
    (2010) A method for linguistic metaphor identification. From MIP to MIPVU. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.14
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.14 [Google Scholar]
  55. Stibbe, A.
    (1996) The metaphoric construction of illness in Chinese medicine. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 71, 177–188.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Taylor, C. & Kidgell, J.
    (2021) Flu-like pandemics and metaphor pre-covid: A corpus investigation. Discourse, Context and Media, 411, 100503. 10.1016/j.dcm.2021.100503
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2021.100503 [Google Scholar]
  57. Veith, I. & Barnes, L.
    (2016) The Yellow Emperor’s classic of internal medicine. Oakland, California: University of California Press. Online: www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctv1wxs1d
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Wang, B., Lu, X., Hsu, C. C., Lin, E. & Ai, H.
    (2019) Linguistic metaphor identification in Chinese. InS. Nacey, A. Dorst, T. Krennmayr & W. Reijnierse, Metaphor identification in multiple languages: MIPVU around the world (converging evidence in language and communication research (CELCR) (pp.247–266). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.22.12wan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.22.12wan [Google Scholar]
  59. Wang, J.
    (2002) Recent progress in corpus linguistics in China. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 6(2), 281–304. 10.1075/ijcl.6.2.05wan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.6.2.05wan [Google Scholar]
  60. Wicke, P. & Bolognesi, M. M.
    (2020) Framing COVID-19: How we conceptualize and discuss the pandemic on Twitter. PloS ONE, 15(9), e0240010. 10.1371/journal.pone.0240010
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0240010 [Google Scholar]
  61. Wierzbicka, A.
    (1997) Understanding cultures through their key words: English, Russian, Polish, German, Japanese. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Yu, N.
    (1995) Metaphorical expressions of anger and happiness in English and Chinese. Metaphor and symbolic activity, 10(2), 59–92. 10.1207/s15327868ms1002_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327868ms1002_1 [Google Scholar]
  63. (1998) The contemporary theory of metaphor: A perspective from Chinese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/hcp.1
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.1 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error