Professor Veronika Koller


Veronika Koller is Professor of Discourse Studies at Lancaster University, UK. Her research interests are critical discourse analysis and metaphor, and her book-length publications include Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse (Palgrave, 2004), Language in Business, Language at Work (co-authored, Macmillan Higher Education 2018) and Discourses of Brexit (co-edited, Routledge 2019). She currently works on misogyny in online spaces.




Public messaging during Covid-19 pandemic: A crisis communications perspective

Veronika Koller, Lancaster University (UK)


In this talk, I will investigate how different governments have communicated with the general public during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Previous research on the language aspects of the Covid-19 crisis has included work on the use of metaphor (e.g., Semino 2021), on the role of social media for (dis)information (e.g., Marin 2020) and on the content, channels and strategies of crisis communication by politicians and medical experts (e.g., Coombs 2021, Nyarko et al. 2021).

This keynote will contribute to the latter strand of research by taking a linguistically informed view of crisis communication. In particular, I will engage in a comparative analysis of selected speeches by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo that the two political leaders made on the Covid-19 crisis during 2020 and 2021. The analysis will focus on features such as metaphor, modality and pronoun use to ascertain how Johnson and Akufo-Addo represent the relationship between government and the public.

I will conclude by relating the findings to the development of the pandemic in the two countries, offering some discussion points about how crisis communication can influence public behaviour.



Coombs, W.T. (2021). Public sector crises: Realizations from Covid-19 for crisis communication. Partecipazione e Conflitto. DOI: 10.1285/i20356609v13i2p990

Marin, L. (2020). Three contextual dimensions of information on social media: Lessons learned from the COVID-19 infodemic. Ethics and Information Technology.

Nyarko, J., Serwornoo, M.Y. W., & Azanu, B. (2020). Communication lapses to combating COVID-19 pandemic: Evaluating Ghana’s COVID-19 campaign. Journal of African Media Studies, 13(2), 159-15.

Semino, E. (2021). “Not soldiers but fire-fighters”: Metaphors and Covid-19. Health Communication36(1), 50-58.