General Article New study examines the language of dying

Topic Selected: Bereavement
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The £218,000 project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, brings together expertise from linguists, computer scientists and a health psychologist from the University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care.

The ‘Metaphor in End of Life Care’ project focuses specifically on metaphors – words and phrases which describe one thing in terms of another. Illness, emotions, relationships and death are among the experiences for which people use metaphors to express, reflect and shape views, feelings, attitudes and needs.

The team is scrutinising 1.5 million words used by patients, family carers and healthcare professionals in a bid to improve communications for those nearing the end of their lives, in consultation with the Lancaster Research Partners’ Forum – a group of local people with experience of research and of end-of-life care in the UK.

The project’s principal investigator and Head of Linguistics and English Language Professor Elena Semino explained: ‘Metap...

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