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Political Language

3. The Metaphor of War

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In this module, we think about the use of war as a metaphor in political language, focusing in particular on: (i) the use of the metaphor of war to describe the attempt to deal with universally-agreed evils, e.g. Lyndon Johnson's 'war on poverty'; (ii) the more recent use of the metaphor to war to describe the 'battle' between opposing sides in a political debate; (iii) the contrast between then and now implicit in the political slogans 'Make American Great Again' and 'Take Back Control'; (iv) the various 'wars' that characterised the campaigns for and against Brexit – between Britain and the EU, between Leavers and Remainers, an even within the Remain and Leave camps; (v) the metaphor of Britain being a country under attack; and (vi) the importance of populism and the contrast between the political elites and 'real' people.


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 Metaphor of War [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Charteris-Black, J. "Political Language – The Metaphor of War." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022,

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