Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4070
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4097



The present study contributes to the growing body of work on the pandemic-time use of the metaphor in public discourse, by focusing specifically on military metaphors in the media discourses of two post-Yugoslav, post-conflict states. Using the approach of Critical Metaphor Analysis, the paper explores the discursive realizations of the metaphor in this context, with a particular focus on metaphor extension, metaphor entailments, and effects of earlier conflict memory on discursive use of the metaphor. The results show how metaphor entailments may vary according to the kinds of war made salient in discourse. Several forms of discursive use grounded in linking metaphorical and literal senses of war are identified, as creating specific local meanings, which in the case area observed worked to relate representations of threat to dominant instrumentalizations of historical memory and ongoing nationalist discourses. Beyond the local context, the findings are used to discuss some aspects of pandemic-time metaphor use important both for the theorizing of adversarial metaphors in public discourse, and for more nuanced analyses of the discourses of crisis.

Available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Atuhura, D.
    (2022) The metaphor of war in political discourse on COVID-19 in Uganda. Frontiers in Communication, 61, 297–311. 10.3389/fcomm.2021.746007
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2021.746007 [Google Scholar]
  2. Atanasova, D., & Koteyko, N.
    (2017) Metaphors in Guardian Online and Mail Online opinion-page content on climate change: War, religion, and politics. Environmental Communication, 11(4), 452–469. 10.1080/17524032.2015.1024705
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2015.1024705 [Google Scholar]
  3. Banjeglav, T., & Moll, N.
    (2021) Outbreak of war memories? Historical analogies of the 1990s wars in discourses about the coronavirus pandemic in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 21(3), 353–372. 10.1080/14683857.2021.1942656
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14683857.2021.1942656 [Google Scholar]
  4. Berrocal, M., Kranert, M., Attolino, P., Santos, J. A. B., Santamaria, S. G., Henaku, N., … & Salamurović, A.
    (2021) Constructing collective identities and solidarity in premiers’ early speeches on COVID-19: a global perspective. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1), 128–148. 10.1057/s41599‑021‑00805‑x
    https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00805-x [Google Scholar]
  5. Bogetić, K., Broćić, A., & Rasulić, K.
    (2019) Linguistic metaphor identification in Serbian. InS. Nacey, A. G. Dorst, T. Krennmayr, W. Gudrun Reijnierse (Eds.). Metaphor identification in multiple languages: MIPVU around the world (pp.203–226). John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.22.10bog
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.22.10bog [Google Scholar]
  6. Bogetić, K.
    (2022) Approaching crisis discourse via metaphor: Some observations from the post-Yugoslav public discourses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Language. Text. Society, 9(2), 1–1.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bouckaert, G., Galli, D., Kuhlmann, S., Reiter, R., & Van Hecke, S.
    (2020) European Coronationalism? A Hot Spot Governing a Pandemic Crisis. Public Administration Review, 80(5), 765–773. 10.1111/puar.13242
    https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13242 [Google Scholar]
  8. Brown, G., Langer, A., & Stewart, F.
    (2008) A Typology of Post-Conflict Environments: An Overview. Crise Working Papers, 531, 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Castro Seixas, E.
    (2021) War metaphors in political communication on COVID-19. Frontiers in Sociology, 51, 1–11. 10.3389/fsoc.2020.583680
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2020.583680 [Google Scholar]
  10. Charteris-Black, J.
    (2004) Corpus approaches to critical metaphor analysis. Palgrave. 10.1057/9780230000612
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230000612 [Google Scholar]
  11. (2021) Metaphors of coronavirus: Invisible enemy or zombie apocalypse?Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑030‑85106‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85106-4 [Google Scholar]
  12. Chapman, C. M., & Miller, D. S.
    (2020) From metaphor to militarized response: the social implications of “we are at war with COVID-19”–crisis, disasters, and pandemics yet to come. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40(9/10), 1107–1124. 10.1108/IJSSP‑05‑2020‑0163
    https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-05-2020-0163 [Google Scholar]
  13. Chatti, S.
    (2021) Military framing of health threats: The COVID-19 disease as a case study. Language, Discourse & Society, 9(1), 33–44.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Dada, S., Ashworth, H., Bewa, M., & Dhatt, R.
    (2021) Words matter: Political and gender analysis of speeches made by heads of government during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ Health, 6(1), e003910. 10.1136/bmjgh‑2020‑003910
    https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003910 [Google Scholar]
  15. Demjén, Z., & Semino, E.
    (2016) Using metaphor in healthcare: Physical health. InThe Routledge handbook of metaphor and language (pp.403–417). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Despot, K. Š., & Anić, A. O.
    (2021) A war on war metaphor: Metaphorical framings in Croatian discourse on COVID-19. Rasprave Instituta za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje, 47(1), 173–208. 10.31724/rihjj.47.1.6
    https://doi.org/10.31724/rihjj.47.1.6 [Google Scholar]
  17. Erll, A.
    (2020) Afterword: Memory worlds in times of Corona. Memory Studies, 13(5), 861–874. 10.1177/1750698020943014
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1750698020943014 [Google Scholar]
  18. Fairclough, N.
    (2010) Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Flusberg, S. J., Matlock, T., & Thibodeau, P. H.
    (2017) Metaphors for the war (or race) against climate change. Environmental Communication, 11(6), 769–783. 10.1080/17524032.2017.1289111
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1289111 [Google Scholar]
  20. Grady, J. E.
    (1997) Foundations of meaning: Primary metaphors and primary scenes. [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
  21. Hauser, D. J., & Schwarz, N.
    (2015) The war on prevention: Bellicose cancer metaphors hurt (some) prevention intentions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(1), 66–77. 10.1177/0146167214557006
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167214557006 [Google Scholar]
  22. Jaspal, R., & Nerlich, B.
    (2020) Social representations, identity threat, and coping amid COVID-19. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(S1), S249. 10.1037/tra0000773
    https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000773 [Google Scholar]
  23. Keightley, E., & Pickering, M.
    (2012) The mnemonic imagination. Palgrave. 10.1057/9781137271549
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137271549 [Google Scholar]
  24. Koller, V.
    (2012) How to analyse collective identity in discourse-textual and contextual parameters. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines, 5(2), 19–38.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M.
    (1980) Metaphors we live by. University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Lakoff, G.
    (1992) Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the Gulf. Thirty Years of Linguistic Evolution, 463–481. 10.1075/z.61.36lak
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.61.36lak [Google Scholar]
  27. Marey-Sarwan, I., Hamama-Raz, Y., Asadi, A., Nakad, B., & Hamama, L.
    (2022) “It’s like we’re at war”: Nurses’ resilience and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nursing Inquiry, 29(3), e12472. 10.1111/nin.12472
    https://doi.org/10.1111/nin.12472 [Google Scholar]
  28. Musolff, A.
    (2022) “World-beating” pandemic responses: Ironical, sarcastic, and satirical use of war and competition metaphors in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Metaphor and Symbol, 37(2), 76–87. 10.1080/10926488.2021.1932505
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2021.1932505 [Google Scholar]
  29. 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. 10.1075/msw.00013.olz
    https://doi.org/10.1075/msw.00013.olz [Google Scholar]
  30. Rajandran, K.
    (2020) ‘A Long Battle Ahead’: Malaysian and Singaporean prime ministers employ war metaphors for COVID-19. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 20(3), 261–267. 10.17576/gema‑2020‑2003‑15
    https://doi.org/10.17576/gema-2020-2003-15 [Google Scholar]
  31. Ritchie, D.
    (2003) “Argument is war”-or is it a game of chess? Multiple meanings in the analysis of implicit metaphors. Metaphor and Symbol, 18(2), 125–146. 10.1207/S15327868MS1802_4
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327868MS1802_4 [Google Scholar]
  32. Semino, E.
    (2008) Metaphor in discourse. Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. (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]
  34. Salamurović, A.
    (2020) Metaphorical and literal wars in Serbia. Cultures of History Forum, https://cultures-of-history.uni-jena.de/focus/kleio-in-pandemia/metaphorical-and-literal-wars-in-serbia, accessedAug 2023.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. 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]
  36. Steen, G., Dorst, A. G., Herrmann, J. B., Kaal, A., Krennmayr, T., & Pasma, T.
    (2010) A method for linguistic metaphor identification. John Benjamins. 10.1075/celcr.14
    https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.14 [Google Scholar]
  37. Sontag, S.
    (1978) Illness as metaphor. Giroux.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Thibodeau, P. H., & Boroditsky, L.
    (2011) Metaphors we think with: The role of metaphor in reasoning. PloS One, 6(2), e16782. 10.1371/journal.pone.0016782
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016782 [Google Scholar]
  39. 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]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): COVID-19; crisis discourse; memory; nationalism; war metaphor
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