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The cancer card: Metaphor, intimacy and humor in online interactions about the experience of cancer

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Publication date2017
Host publicationMetaphor: Embodied Cognition and Discourse
EditorsBeate Hampe
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (electronic)9781108182324
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Employing a dynamic system approach, this chapter investigates the use of one particular metaphor—the ‘cancer card’—on an online forum dedicated to cancer. Far from being a common Card Game metaphor with a stable source-target mapping, the metaphor is collaboratively developed (i.e. used, re-used, adapted) to express the idea that patients can use their illness to their advantage in a variety of situations, while also reflecting a broader tendency to employ humor as a strategy for coping with adversity. An analysis of all 106 instances of ‘(cancer) card(s)’ on one of the threads of the forum shows that, though related to English expressions like ‘play the […] card’ and to conventional conceptual metaphors like life is a game, its use is specific to the interactions among the members of this online community. Our analysis of the ‘cancer card’ as a group-specific metaphoreme (Cameron & Deignan 2006) emphasizes that multiple interacting factors must be considered to account for such rich and complex phenomena as the use of metaphors in online interactions.