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Who Is to Blame? : An Ecolinguistic Analysis of the Portrayal of Human and Non-Human Animals in the Initial Phase of the Corona Crisis / Vem ska beskyllas? : en ekolingvistisk analys av skildringen av mänskliga och icke-mänskliga djur i den inledande fasen av corona krisen

  • Wikström, Rebecca
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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The corona virus has spread steadily and led to consequences on a larger scale than anyone could have imagined, and it is not at all surprising that we want to find someone to hold responsible. Who is to blame for this terrible situation that we have to live through?  By taking an ecolinguistic approach, primarily inspired by Arran Stibbe (2021), this study explores how human and non-human animals are being blamed for the corona crisis in a corpus based on 15 news articles. To demonstrate blame through linguistic portrayal, the data are processed through four different lenses: facticity, appraisal, erasure and salience. The study finds that both human and non-human animals in general are portrayed as being to blame for the corona crisis. However, bats are most frequently portrayed as the responsible entity and human blame is often downplayed by linguistic erasure. Ecolinguistics can convey how language establishes asymmetries between groups and uncover how those asymmetries have an effect upon a broader social context. With this in mind, the way the texts blame entities for the corona crisis has real-life consequences. Firstly, non-human animals risk being killed to reduce the spread of the virus based on shallow arguments and groundless evaluations. Secondly, human blame risks not being evaluated properly and therefore there is a risk that harmful human behaviour can continue. 

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