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Political Language

4. The Language of the Covid-19 Pandemic

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the use of language during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on: (i) the difference between a political issue such as Brexit, where the 'enemy' (for both sides) was a human actor, and the Covid pandemic, where the 'enemy' was a virus; (ii) the use of memorable, tripartite slogans; (iii) the rhetoric of 'the science'; (iv) the use of zombie imagery to describe the virus; (v) the use and effectiveness of words such as furlough, lockdown and circuit-breaker; (vi) the use and effectiveness of three metaphors: the bubble, the cocoon and the shield; and (vii) the extent to which protective measures were described (in media coverage, for example) as something that other people did as opposed to something that you yourself did.


In this course, Professor Jonathan Charteris-Black (UWE Bristol) explores political language. In the first module, we explore the various definitions of political language, before turning in the second module to think about the different levels at which political language can be analysed, from parts of words (e.g. the suffix –gate) to whole narratives. In the third module, we think about the metaphor of war in political discourse, while in the fourth module we think about the kind of language that emerged and was used during the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the concepts of style and character in relation to various political figures, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Greta Thunberg and Dominic Cummings.


Prof. Jonathan Charteris-Black is Professor in Linguistics at UWE Bristol. His recent publications include Metaphors of Brexit: No cherries on the cake? (2019) and Analysing Political Speeches: Rhetoric, Discourse and Metaphor (2018).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Charteris-Black, J. (2022, April 11). Political Language - The Language of the Covid-19 Pandemic [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Charteris-Black, J. "Political Language – The Language of the Covid-19 Pandemic." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022,

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