Figurative Language Used by Australian Facebookers During COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Mamoun I Bani Amer Jadara University
  • Luqman M Rababah Jadara University



speech acts, Austin, COVID-19, Australian facebookers, war metaphors


This study investigated the metaphorical speech acts used by Australian commentators on Facebook during COVID-19. The sample contained 50 Facebook comments that were analyzed qualitatively. The study adopted Searle taxonomy of speech acts, namely, directive, assertive, expressive, commissive, and declarative. This helped in identifying the different functions of the metaphorical speech acts. Moreover, Austin taxonomy of speech act forms, namely, locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary, was adopted. The findings revealed that the most common types of metaphors that were used by the Australian commentators were war and conflict metaphors, followed by psychological status metaphors and irony metaphors. The study found that war and conflict metaphors were the most commonly used forms of speech by the commentators. This is in alignment with the literature that also highlights how the advent of a crisis, such as COVID-19, results in excessive use of war and militarized metaphors. The study found that the most common speech act was directive, while expressive was the least common form used by Australian commentators during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Abdullayeva, O. I. Q. (2022). Study of pragmatic meaning of English in Uzbek language. Science and Education, 3(2), 642-645. Retrieved February 16, 2022 from

Amoussou, F., & Allagbe, A. A. (2018). Principles, theories and approaches to critical discourse analysis. International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature, 6(1), 11-18. Retrieved January 7, 2018 from

Andimara, S., Haryanto, S., & Haryati, D. (2020). A pragmatic analysis of figurative language in guardian of galaxy movies (Doctoral dissertation, Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta). Retrieved August 22, 2022 from

Austin, J. L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1965Austin1965How to Do Things with Words.

Barcelona, A. (2019). Metonymy. Cognitive linguistics: Foundations of language, 167-194. Retrieved July 8, 2019 from

Belligh, T., & Willems, K. (2021). What's in a code? The code-inference distinction in Neo-gricean pragmatics, relevance theory, and integral linguistics. Language Sciences, 83, 101310. Retrieved July 8, 2022

Branagan, A., Cross, M., & Parsons, S. (2020). Language for behaviour and emotions: A practical guide to working with children and young people. Routledge. Retrieved October 29, 2020 from

Burkhardt, A. (Ed.). (2010). Speech acts, meaning and intentions: critical approaches to the philosophy of John R. Searle. Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved September 15, 2010 from,+which+was+&ots=IdMlN6Hi-v&sig=zrBycNrQUmUg4rT52hkgGSw5A5I

Campbell, S., Greenwood, M., Prior, S., Shearer, T., Walkem, K., Young, S., ... & Walker, K. (2020). Purposive sampling: complex or simple? Research case examples. Journal of Research in Nursing, 25(8), 652-661. Retrieved June 18, 2020 from

Charteris-Black, J. (2011). Politicians and rhetoric: The persuasive power of metaphor. Springer. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from,+show+events,+and+explain+concepts.+&ots=Cq0ungMbKR&sig=u1REYkhbbOtoOyDNXRS_OnCoxP8

Cheney, G., Christensen, L. T., Zorn Jr, T. E., & Ganesh, S. (2010). Organizational communication in an age of globalization: Issues, reflections, practices. Waveland Press. Retrieved June 2, 2010 from

Chomsky, N. (1995). The Minimalist program: /Noam Chomsky. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 420, 5.

Culpeper, J., Mackey, A., & Taguchi, N. (2018). Second language pragmatics: From theory to research. Routledge. Retrieved May 3, 2018 from

Cutting, J., & Fordyce, K. (2020). Pragmatics: a resource book for students. Routledge. Retrieved November 26 2020 from

Deignan, A., Littlemore, J., & Semino, E. (2013). Figurative language, genre and register. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved January 19, 2013 from

Dobrovol’skij, D., & Piirainen, E. (2018). Conventional figurative language theory and idiom motivation. Yearbook of Phraseology, 9(1), 5-30. Retrieved November 8, 2018 from

Ellis, N. C. (2019). Essentials of a theory of language cognition. The Modern Language Journal, 103, 39-60. Retrieved January 16, 2019 From

Etikan, I., Musa, S. A., & Alkassim, R. S. (2016). Comparison of convenience sampling and purposive sampling. American Journal of Theoretical and Applied Statistics, 5(1), 1-4. Retrieved December 22, 2015 from

Fairclough, I., & Fairclough, N. (2013). Political discourse analysis: A method for advanced students. Routledge. Retrieved January 23, 2012

Gibbs Jr, R. W. (2011). Evaluating conceptual metaphor theory. Discourse processes, 48(8), 529-562. Retrieved May 2, 2013 from

Guest, G., MacQueen, K. M., & Namey, E. E. (2011). Applied thematic analysis. Sage publications. Retrieved November 9, 2011 from

Guest, G., MacQueen, K. M., & Namey, E. E. (2012). Introduction to applied thematic analysis. Applied Thematic Analysis, 3(20), 1-21. Retrieved October 7, 2019 from

Hancock, G. R., Mueller, R. O., & Stapleton, L. M. (2010). The reviewer's guide to quantitative methods in the social sciences. Routledge. Retrieved February 11, 2010

Hanks, P. (2018). Types of speech acts. New work on speech acts, 123-143. Retrieved August 15, 2018 from

Hanne, M. (2022). How we escape capture by the “war” metaphor for COVID-19. Metaphor and Symbol, 37(2), 88-100. Retrieved March 31, 2022

Hatim, B., & Mason, I. (2014). Discourse and the Translator. Routledge. Retrieved October 1, 2013 from.

Haucsa, G. M., Marzuki, A. G., Alek, A., & Hidayat, D. N. (2020). Illocutionary Speech Acts Analysis in Tom Cruise's Interview. Academic Journal Perspective: Education, Language, and Literature, 8(1), 11-19. Retrieved May 27, 2020

Honeck, R. P., & Hoffman, R. R. (Eds.). (2018). Cognition and figurative language. Routledge. Retrieved November 21, 2018

Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I. (2019). Perception metaphors in cognitive linguistics. Perception metaphors, 19, 43.

Javadi, M., & Zarea, K. (2016). Understanding thematic analysis and its pitfall. Demo, 1(1), 33-39. Retrieved March 25, 2016 From

Kövecses, Z. (2019). Perception and metaphor. Laura J. Speed, Carolyn O’Meara, Lila San Roque & Asifa Majid (eds.), Perception metaphors, 327-346.

Landau, M. J., Meier, B. P., & Keefer, L. A. (2010). A metaphor-enriched social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1045. Retrieved November, 2010 from

Landau, M. J., Zhong, C. B., & Swanson, T. J. (2018). Conceptual metaphors shape consumer psychology. Consumer Psychology Review, 1(1), 54-71. Retrieved December 16, 2017 from

Leezenberg, M. (2021). Contexts of metaphor. Brill. Retrieved October 1, 2021 from,+according+to+this+comparison+theory,+should+be+reducible+to+a+collection+of+literal+similarity+claims.&ots=ut6BLZo_gY&sig=kANrp7H5PbL2aIfU9WD4n1T3iBA

Lester, P. E., Inman, D., & Bishop, L. K. (2014). Handbook of tests and measurement in education and the social sciences. Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved December 2014 from

Litosseliti, L. (Ed.). (2018). Research methods in linguistics. Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved September 20, 2018 from

Mabaquiao Jr, N. M. (2018). Speech Act Theory: From Austin to Searle. Augustinian Journal, 19(1), 1-18. Retrieved

Mason, A. N., Narcum, J., & Mason, K. (2021). Social media marketing gains importance after Covid-19. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1), 1870797. Retrieved 11 Jan 2021 from

Matthews, K. E., Cook-Sather, A., Acai, A., Dvorakova, S. L., Felten, P., Marquis, E., & Mercer-Mapstone, L. (2019). Toward theories of partnership praxis: An analysis of interpretive framing in literature on students as partners in teaching and learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 38(2), 280-293. Retrieved October 11, 2018 from

Minda, S. (2021). Figurative language in students’ English book. Asian TESOL Journal, 1(1), 10-21. Retrieved November 30, 2021 From

Niesen, P. (2018). 6. Speech Acts. In The Habermas Handbook (pp. 58-63). Columbia University Press. Retrieved October 24, 2017 from

Oxford dictionary (n.d.). Figurative language.

Paul, J., & Criado, A. R. (2020). The art of writing literature review: What do we know and what do we need to know? International Business Review, 29(4), 101717. Retrieved August 1, 2020 from rticle/pii/S0969593120300585

Podesva, R. J., & Sharma, D. (Eds.). (2014). Research methods in linguistics. Cambridge University Press.

Prihodko, G. (2018). Specific nature of evaluative speech acts. Advanced Education, (9), 201-205. Retrieved June 29, 2018 from

Rais, B., & Triyono, S. (2019). Pragmatic Analysis of Speech Acts on the Video of Prabowo Vs Jokowi-Epic Rap Battles of Presidency. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 2(3), 150-157. Retrieved May 30, 2019 from

Rajandran, K. (2020). ‘A Long Battle Ahead’: Malaysian and Singaporean prime ministers employ war metaphors for COVID-19. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 20(3), 261-267. Retrieved August 28, 2020

Saragi, V., Nuratika, S., Fransiska, F., Yolanda, M., & Ardiyanti, N. (2019). A Review of Speech Act Theories Focusing on Searle (1969). Elsya: Journal of English Language Studies, 1(2), 61-68. Retrieved June 3, 2019 from

Sbisà, M. (2018). Varieties of speech act norms. In Normativity and variety of speech actions (pp. 23-50). Brill. Retrieved November 21, 2018

Schütze, C. T., Sprouse, J., Podesva, R. J., & Sharma, D. (2014). Research methods in linguistics. Pearson. Retrieved May 2012

Seering, J., Kaufman, G., & Chancellor, S. (2022). Metaphors in moderation. New Media & Society, 24(3), 621-640. Retrieved October 20, 2020 from

Semino, E. (2021). “Not soldiers but fire-fighters”–Metaphors and Covid-19. Health Communication, 36(1), 50-58. Retrieved November 10, 2020 from

Shaykhislamov, N. Z. U., & Makhmudov, K. S. U. (2020). Linguistics and Its Modern Types. Academic Research in Educational Sciences, (1), 358-361.

Siemund, P. (2018). Speech acts and clause types: English in a cross-linguistic context. Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 18, 2018 from

Simon, F. M., & Camargo, C. Q. (2021). Autopsy of a metaphor: The origins, use and blind spots of the ‘infodemic’. New Media & Society, 1461. Retrieved Jul 20, 2021 from

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research, 104, 333-339. Retrieved November 2019 from

Steen, G. J. (2011). The contemporary theory of metaphor—now new and improved! Review of Cognitive Linguistics. Published under the auspices of the Spanish Cognitive Linguistics Association, 9(1), 26-64. Retrieved Jan 2011 From

Stockemer, D., Stockemer, G., & Glaeser. (2019). Quantitative methods for the social sciences (Vol. 50, p. 185). Quantitative methods for the social sciences: Springer International Publishing. Retrieved March 18, 2022 from

Taguchi, N. (2019a). Second language acquisition and pragmatics: An overview. The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Pragmatics, 1-14.

Taguchi, N. (Ed.). (2019b). The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition and pragmatics (pp. 1-14). New York: Routledge.

Taguchi, N., & Ishihara, N. (2018). The pragmatics of English as a lingua franca: Research and pedagogy in the era of globalization. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 38, 80-101. Retrieved October 03, 2018 From

Tedlock, D. (2011). The spoken word and the work of interpretation. In The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation. University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved June 3, 2011 from

Valian, V. (2015). Bilingualism and cognition. Bilingualism: language and cognition, 18(1), 3-24.

Van Eemeren, F. H., & Grootendorst, R. (2010). Speech acts in argumentative discussions: A theoretical model for the analysis of discussions directed towards solving conflicts of opinion. Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved November 5, 2010 from,+which+was+&ots=U9QLkpm6Sa&sig=ZYP2wum8lHwP_Mz0GE99zbFzh2I

Van Hulst, M., & Yanow, D. (2016). From policy “frames” to “framing” theorizing a more dynamic, political approach. The American Review of Public Administration, 46(1), 92-112.

Wallace, E. (2021). Hyperbole. In Road Sides (pp. 44-49). University of Texas Press.

Walliman, N. (2010). Research methods: The basics. Routledge. Retrieved November 17, 2010 from

Wead, D. (2018). The literary devices in John's Gospel (Vol. 7). Wipf & Stock Publishers. Retrieved July 18, 2018

Wells, G. (1994). The complementary contributions of Halliday and Vygotsky to a “language-based theory of learning”. Linguistics and education, 6(1), 41-90.

Wicke, P., & Bolognesi, M. M. (2020). Framing COVID-19: How we conceptualize and discuss the pandemic on Twitter. PloS one, 15(9), 40010. Retrieved September 30, 2020 from

Wijana, I. D. P. (2021). On Speech Acts. Journal of Pragmatics Research, 3(1), 14-27.

Wyatt, S. (2021). Metaphors in critical Internet and digital media studies. New Media & Society, 23(2), 406-416. Retrieved February 25, 2021

Zufferey, S., Moeschler, J., & Reboul, A. (2019). Implicatures. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved June, 2019 from