Speaking of Extinction: A Comparative Corpus-assisted Analysis of the Environmental Framing in Climate Fictions and the News on the Net

Can T., Cangır H.

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


The cognitive linguist George Lakoff developed an alternative view of metaphor which has long been relegated to the context of creative writing. In his view, metaphors are part of cognitive frames we use in our everyday lives to understand abstract concepts in terms of concrete objects and activities. Straddling contemporary cognitive theories and corpus linguistics, the present study seeks to compare the (metaphorical) frames in the climate fictions (aka cli-fi) and the news on the Internet by identifying the key semantic domains, collocations and key words in context. For this comparative analysis, we complied a corpus of 26 novels by 26 novelists and exploited the Climate Change in the News Corpus provided by Lancsbox. We used the tools Wmatrix for semantic tagging and Lancsbox and Voyant tools to report collocational patterns and key words in context. The theoretical and methodological approach of the study was mainly based on Lakoff’s framing theory and ecocriticism. As the initial stage of the research, we designated two key semantic domains, namely “Green Issues” and “Universe,” and explored semantic collocations and key words in context in the two corpora. When the two corpora are compared, the preliminary results indicate that cli-fi writers employ a more powerful language (e.g. “ecological terror”) to bring up a new perspective on the environmental crisis we are going through. These writers’ darker and emotionally disturbing tone is in stark contrast to the neutral, disinterested tone we find in the news corpus. News writers seem to use a more business-oriented language where we find the words with strong political and economic connotations. Subsequently, the preliminary results drawn from the research is partly in line with Lakoff’s concerns about the cognitive frames we create about environmental problems, and his emphasis on the role of storytelling in changing these false frames.