Spreading of Metaphors and Key phrases on the Web

Research into cross-domain communication and the re-organization of linguistic meanings in complex interaction between different participating parties and public discourses is an emerging research field, triggered by the increase in the amount of online databases archiving large numbers of communication documents. New methods are needed for the analysis of the spreading and resonance of metaphors and key-phrases across different discourse domains in online settings. In this project we will:

1) develop methods for tracking the spreading of metaphors and key-phrases in different media, such as blogs, newspapers, policy-documents and scientific articles over time and
2) chart the resonance of meanings attached to such metaphors and key-phrases when they are taken in use in different context of discourse domains.

The resulting method would be useful for social scientists and linguists in their efforts to trace the evolving dynamics of communication networks and conventionalized figurative meaning-creation.

The project will focus on climate change communication, embedded in the ongoing NWO-ORA project “Climate change as a complex social issue”.


  • Robin Meyer
  • Sandra van der Hel