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A Micro-Diachronic Corpus Investigation of Violence-Related Metaphors Used to Frame China during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ilaria Iori



The article explores Sinophobic discourses during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing specifically on violence-related metaphors used to frame China in American and Australian newspapers from January to June 2020. Specifically, the analysis aims to investigate the extent to which violence-related metaphors were used to frame China in a micro-diachronic perspective and the functions they performed in the dataset. The investigation was conducted by combining corpus linguistics and discourse analysis approaches to analyse the semantic domain of violence. The results revealed that violence-related metaphors were extensively used to negatively frame China and its institutions in both corpora, although they were more frequent in the Australian corpus. From a micro-diachronic perspective, in the American corpus, violence-related metaphors were less recurrent and evenly distributed over time, whereas they peaked in May 2020 in the Australian corpus, a time that coincided with China’s imposition of substantial tariffs on Australian barley. This seemed to suggest that the use of such metaphors was highly influenced by socioeconomic factors rather than by the spread of COVID-19.


corpus-assisted discourse analysis; framing; metaphor; Sinophobia; war metaphors

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2023-002-iori

Copyright (©) 2023 Ilaria Iori – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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