Research article
Issue: № 7 (121), 2022


Научная статья

Шеховцева Т.М.1, *, Камышанченко Е.А.2 , Страхова К.А.3

1 ORCID: 0000-0002-1628-9705;

3 ORCID: 0000-0002-6134-1189;

1– 3 Белгородский государственный национальный исследовательский университет, Белгород, Россия

* Корреспондирующий автор (shekhovtseva[at]


Авторы рассматривают теоретические и методологические основы теории концептуальной метафоры, получившей распространение в мировой науке и нашедшей многостороннее применение в практических исследованиях; анализируют и систематизируют метафорические репрезентации концепта PANDEMIC в современном английском медиадискурсе. Языковая реализация концепта PANDEMIC фиксируется в современных англоязычных СМИ с помощью приема сплошной выборки. В фокусе внимания находится антропоморфная метафорическая модель, выделенная на основе анализа сочетаемости субстантива, называющего концепт, и его синонимов с конкретными предикатами. В процессе работы применялись также метод контекстуального анализа, метод анализа сочетаемости абстрактных имен, позволивший выделить ряд концептуальных метафор, репрезентирующих концепт, и метод когнитивной интерпретации метафоры, определяющий способ осмысления рассматриваемого концепта в сознании носителей английского языка.

Ключевые слова: концепт, концептуальная метафора, метафорическая модель, антропоморфная модель, COVID19, медиадискурс.


Research article

Shekhovtseva T.M.1, *, Kamyshanchenko E.A.2 , Strakhova K.A.3

1 ORCID: 0000-0002-1628-9705;

3 ORCID: 0000-0002-6134-1189;

1–3 Belgorod State National Research University, Belgorod, Russia;

* Corresponding author (shekhovtseva[at]


The authors consider the theoretical and methodological foundations of the conceptual metaphor theory, which has become widespread in world science and has found multilateral application in practical research; they analyze and systematize metaphorical representations of the PANDEMIC concept in modern English media discourse. The language implementation of the PANDEMIC concept is recorded in modern English-language media using the continuous sampling technique. The focus is on an anthropomorphic metaphorical model, identified on the basis of combinability analysis of the substantive naming the concept and its synonyms with specific predicates. In the course of the study, the authors used the method of contextual analysis, the method of analyzing the abstract names compatibility, which made it possible to identify a number of conceptual metaphors representing the concept, and the method of cognitive interpretation of metaphor, which determines the way of understanding the concept under consideration in the minds of English speakers.

Keywords: concept, conceptual metaphor, metaphorical model, anthropomorphic model, COVID-19, media discourse.


In the modern world, the topic of coronavirus is regularly covered by the media. Every day there is up-to-date news related to the spread of COVID-19, the recording of new cases of infection and new “waves” of incidence, the struggle of the countries of the world with a pandemic, vaccination and introduction of restrictive measures or their removal.

The relevance of the study, therefore, is determined by the ability of the media to influence the mass consciousness, form readers' attitude to the global problem, and evoke an emotional response in the current situation of social tension. From the point of view of linguistics, the relevance is determined by insufficient knowledge of the language representation of the coronavirus pandemic in the English-language media.

The scientific novelty of the work lies in the analysis and systematization of a number of conceptual metaphors representing the PANDEMIC concept in the modern English-language media discourse.

The purpose of this work is to consider some features of the PANDEMIC concept representation in the English-language media.

The study was conducted on the material of the journalistic discourse of the English-language media (online publications). The material of the study is media texts selected by continuous sampling from modern newspapers in the UK (“The Guardian”, “The Morning Star”, “The Evening Standard”) and the USA “Time” for the period from March 2020 to March 2022. The authors analyzed over 1000 contexts.

One of the main visual means of a language is a metaphor, which also performs the function of explanation, serves as an explication of meaning through the creation of an image [2, P.119]. The authors use the term “conceptual metaphor” (hereinafter referred to as CM) by G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, which allows to separate the linguistic means of expression and the underlying cognitive process, namely the understanding of one phenomenon (or field of activity) in terms of another. The authors also used elements of the metaphorical modeling theory by A.P. Chudinov [7].

Analyzing speech contexts that allow highlighting the features of the metaphorical representation of the PANDEMIC concept in modern English-language media, we used a technique based on studying the compatibility of the substantive naming the concept under consideration and its synonyms with specific predicates. This technique of conceptual analysis is presented in the works of G. Lakoff [4], L.O. Cherneiko [6], M.V. Pimenova [5], A.P. Chudinov [7] and many other Western and Russian linguists.

Out of the key lexemes that form the semantic space of the concept under study, namely the nouns pandemic, coronavirus (or virus) and the abbreviation COVID-19 (from the English COronaVIrus Disease 2019), we chose the noun pandemic as the name of the concept, since it has a wider semantics.

According to the results of the contextual analysis, the most productive and frequent conceptual metaphor representing the concept under consideration is the PANDEMIC IS WAR, which is derived from the combination of key representative lexemes with the verbs to fight, to combat, to crush and many others. The same conclusion was reached by some Russian and foreign authors who published the results of their research in 2020-2021 (for example, N.S. Dankova, E.V. Krekhtunova [3]; Brigitte Nerlich [8]). In this regard, it seems appropriate to consider other, less frequent, but no less interesting CMs. Depending on the source domain, the selected CMs can be assigned to three "Person", "Artifacts"and “Nature”.

The focus of our attention is the sub-sphere “Person”, which includes the largest number of selected CMs. This fact confirms the well-known thesis that the anthropomorphic code is one of the most fruitful sources for creating metaphors.

The presence of anthropomorphic features in the content of the PANDEMIC concept determines the selection of the CM PANDEMIC IS A PERSON on their basis.

Structuring the PANDEMIC concept according to the anthropomorphic model implies the participation of substantives in acts of impersonation or personification, that is, their likening to a person, which determines their compatibility with predicates that implement subject-oriented features, primarily activity, volition, controllability and animation of the object [1, P.102]. Pandemic in the metaphorical representation of native English speakers can perform the same actions and stay in the same states as a real person: it can throw, write, push:

This pandemic has just thrown a whole bunch of complications, stresses and pressures on staff that are already broken [12].

But the end of Trump’s turbulent term will be written by the virus [13].

How the Pandemic Pushed a Generation of Americans to Discover the Perks (and Risks) of Online Banking [13].

Lexemes that verbalize the PANDEMIC concept can be used as subject-agents in combination with predicates of independent movement (for example, to come):

I thought I was doing pretty well. Then came the pandemic [13].

During the analysis, it was revealed that the representative lexemes of the PANDEMIC concept within the sub-sphere "Person" are combined mainly with verbs denoting physical activity. Examples illustrating the compatibility of representative lexemes with verbs of mental activity are less common. As an example, a virus, like a person, can be wise or silly:

Viruses are at once both mindless and clever—infecting and eluding, spreading and shape-shifting [13].

Lexemes denoting emotional state were not found in the analyzed material. This means that the pandemic in the minds of native speakers is conceptualized as a phenomenon the main feature of which is procedure, dynamism.

СM pandemic is a reformer. This model is ambiguous in its axiological characteristics, since reforms and their results can be both positive and negative. The article, from which the following example is taken, is about the economic situation, namely, extreme poverty provoked by the pandemic:

The pandemic has already reshaped India beyond imagination [13].

The author of the publication on the US elections notes that the pandemic has completely changed not only the election campaign, but also the citizens’ values:

But in the 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything–from how the campaign is conducted to how we vote to what we value [13].

All in all, the verbs to change, to transform, to alter in combination with key lexemes are quite frequent in the analyzed material, which allows to record changes in most spheres of life during the pandemic: in economics, trade, politics, as well as in the views and value system of mankind.

СМ pandemic is a teacher. Within the framework of this model, we again talk about changing priorities,the value of relationships; philosophical reflections about the transience of life appear – all this is remined by the pandemic that has taken the image of a teacher:

Coronavirus has also reminded people of their own mortality. People are realizing that life is short, and they’re reprioritizing [13].

Nevertheless, much more often the pandemic seems to be an enemy, a prudent criminal, implementing СM pandemic is a criminal. He can injure, cause damage and beatings, threaten, kill:

New vaccines centre to protect UK from pandemic threats [14].

COVID-19 Has Killed Nearly 200,000 Americans [13].

СMpandemicisanunmasker. This model focuses the reader's attention on the fact that the pandemic, having put on masks on humanity, at the same time, disrupts these masks, revealing, exposing shortcomings, gaps and blunders:

The coronavirus has laid bare the inequalities of American public health [13].

СM pandemic is an authority. Within the framework of this model, the pandemic is considered as a person endowed with certain powers that can, for example, keep visitors away:

The celebrated Parisian bookstore told readers on Wednesday that it was facing “hard times” as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps customers away [11].

An authorized person can force out students from schools and universities and make teachers study modern educational (digital) technologies at an accelerated pace:

By April, the pandemic had forced of their schools and universities worldwide, putting many of their teachers on a steep edtech learning curve [11].


Thus, as a result of the study we have confirmed the thesis that metaphor is one of the most effective means of creating imagery, expressiveness and vividness in a media text. The conceptual metaphors we examined belong to the sub-sphere “Person". Explicit conceptual metaphors and the variety of specific source domains allow us to conclude that the conceptualization of the new phenomenon – pandemic – is based on the everyday experience of native English speakers, mostly related to concrete and sensual perception of the reality, including relationships with people and observations of nature. The authors are convinced that the metaphorical representation of the abstract concept PANDEMIC in the English-language media helps to introduce additional ideas about the analyzed entity and to evaluate it.

Конфликт интересов 

Не указан. 

Conflict of Interest 

None declared. 


  • Boldyrev N.N. Kognitivnaja semantika: kurs lekcij po anglijskoj filologii [Cognitive semantics: a course of lectures on English philology]: textbook / N.N. Boldyrev – Tambov : Publishing House of TSU named after G.R. Derzhavin, 2002. – 122 p. [in Russian]

  • Grishechkina G.J. Jemocional'nye i obraznye sredstva v nauchno-populjarnom tekste [Emotional and figurative means in popular science text] / G.J. Grishechkina // Voprosy kognitivnoj lingvistiki [Issues of cognitive linguistics]. – 2009. – № 1. – P. 119–123. [in Russian]

  • Dankova N.S. Reprezentacija pandemii v SMI: metaforicheskij obraz vojny (na materiale amerikanskih gazet) [Representation of the pandemic in the media: a metaphorical image of war (based on American newspapers)] / N.S. Dankova, E.V. Krehtunova // Nauchnyj dialog [Scientific dialogue]. – 2020. – № 8. – Pp. 69–83. [in Russian]

  • Lakoff G. Zhenshhiny, ogon' i opasnye veshhi: Chto kategorii jazyka govorjat nam o myshlenii [Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind]. – Moscow : Languages of Slavic culture. 2004. – 792 p. [in Russian]

  • Pimenova M.V. Koncept serdce: Obraz. Ponjatie. Simvol: monografija [Concept heart: Image. Notion. Symbol: monograph] / M.V. Pimenova. – Kemerovo : KemSU, 2007. – 500 p. [in Russian]

  • Chernejko L.O. Lingvo-filosofskij analiz abstraktnogo imeni [Lingvo-philosophical analysis of the abstract name] / L.O. Chernejko – Moscow : MSU, 1997. – 320 p. [in Russian]

  • Chudinov A.P. Rossija v metaforicheskom zerkale: Kognitivnoe issledovanie politicheskoj metafory (1991-2000): monografija [Russia in a metaphorical mirror: Cognitive study of political metaphor (1991-2000): monograph] / A.P. Chudinov. – Ekaterinburg, 2001. – 238 p. [in Russian]

  • Nerlich B. Metaphors in the time of coronavirus // University of Nottingham. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • The BBC. [Electronic resourse URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • The Evening Standard. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • The Guardian. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • The Morning Star. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • Time. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).

  • University of Oxford. [Electronic resourse]. URL: (accessed: 23.04.2021).