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Investigating media representations of the coronavirus in the UK, USA and Germany: what can a comparative corpus-based discourse analysis contribute to our understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Jaworska, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7465-2245 (2021) Investigating media representations of the coronavirus in the UK, USA and Germany: what can a comparative corpus-based discourse analysis contribute to our understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic? In: Jones, R. H. (ed.) Viral Discourse. Elements in applied linguistics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 26-37. ISBN 9781108986465

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Abstract/Summary

This small study explores some of the ways in which the coronavirus has been discursively constructed in the popular public media in three distinctive cultural and linguistic contexts: the UK, US, and Germany. Such comparisons are important for several reasons. With some exceptions (e.g. Antanasova and Koteyko, 2017), most discourse-analytical research on health and illness has focused mainly on one national context and one language. While such perspectives can offer rich insights into the representations of a discursive phenomenon, these representations are always ‘bespoke’ and restricted to that context and language, thus limiting our understating of how the phenomenon is ‘seen’ elsewhere (Partington et al., 2013; Leuschner and Jaworska, 2018). The coronavirus knows no borders and while the biological properties of the pathogen are everywhere the same, the ways in which the virus is talked about can be influenced by distinctive societal, cultural and linguistic factors. If we want to better understand the social reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential to compare how the virus has been represented in different contexts. Widely disseminated media outlets such as national newspapers can offer some important insights into such representations. Moreover, comparisons across different contexts are important not only because they can limit some of the generalizations that are sometimes made (based on research on representations in English only) about the ways in which we talk about health and illness, but also for epistemological reasons. Exploring how the coronavirus has been represented in public media discourse across different national contexts could uncover different ways of reasoning in relation to the pandemic and how they are reflected and reinforced through the language choices people make, potentially leading to a better understanding of the pandemic and stimulating knowledge exchange.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:97219
Uncontrolled Keywords:discourse analysis, corpus-assisted discourse analysis, pandemic, virus, Covid-19, comparisons, cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, collocation, media, representations
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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