Professor Elena Semino delivered a presentation on how we talk about cancer at the London Headquarters of Cancer Research UK on 28th September.
The presentation, May I take your metaphor? – how we talk about cancer, focused on how different metaphors are used in different groups of people affected by cancer, and whether one metaphor is better than another. By analysing the discourses of cancer, taken from online forums and interviews, Elena and her team have found that the two most common metaphors used are “violence” metaphors (e.g. “battle against cancer”) and “journey” metaphors (e.g. “road to recovery”). The research findings suggest that patients’ violence metaphors can express and reinforce negative feelings while journey metaphors can reinforce positive feelings. However, the latter can also be used in disempowering ways, while violence metaphors can be used in empowering ways.
A recent study by Elena and her team on this topic can be accessed here.