This week sees the publication of ‘Metaphor, Cancer and the End of Life: a corpus-based study’ by Elena Semino, Zsófia Demjén, Andrew Hardie, Sheila Payne and Paul Rayson. The book is the culmination of an ESRC-funded project on metaphors used to talk about cancer and the end of life in the UK by Lancaster University and University College London researchers.
This book presents the methodology, findings and implications of a large-scale corpus-based study of the metaphors used to talk about cancer and the end of life (including care at the end of life) in the UK. It focuses on metaphor as a central linguistic and cognitive tool that is frequently used to talk and think about sensitive and subjective experiences, such as illness, emotions, death, and dying, and that can both help and hinder communication and well-being, depending on how it is used. The book centers on a combination of qualitative analyses and innovative corpus linguistic methods. This methodological assemblage was applied to the systematic study of the metaphors used in a 1.5-million-word corpus. The corpus consists of interviews with, and online forum posts written by, members of three stakeholder groups, namely: patients diagnosed with advanced cancer; unpaid carers looking after a relative with a diagnosis of advanced cancer; and healthcare professionals. The book presents a range of qualitative and quantitative findings that have implications for: metaphor theory and analysis; corpus linguistic and computational approaches to metaphor; and training and practice in cancer care and hospice, palliative and end-of-life care.
A brief press release can be found here.
A blog post on humour covered in the book is here.