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The (Many) Functions of DISEASE Metaphors in the Medical Drama TV Series House, M.D. (Fox, 2004-2012)

Published onDec 23, 2023
The (Many) Functions of DISEASE Metaphors in the Medical Drama TV Series House, M.D. (Fox, 2004-2012)

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The corpus under scrutiny is constituted of the first two seasons of the American TV series House, M.D., in which 118 metaphorical expressions were identified following the procedure that was established by the Pragglejaz group (2007), the MIP (Metaphor Identification Procedure); these expressions were then classified according to the source domain which is used to conceptualise the target domain disease, following the theoretical framework of the Conceptual Metaphor Theory. The results show that the most productive conceptual metaphors are the sick body is a broken machine/object (29 occurrences), The sick body is food/drinks (21 occurrences), A disease is a person (20 occurrences), Having a disease is fighting a war (19 occurrences), and, to a lesser extent, A disease is a journey (5 occurrences), Diagnosing a disease is playing a game (6 occurrences), and A disease is an animal/a monster (4 occurrences). All these metaphors have different, sometimes overlapping functions which are analysed in the discussion section. They are mostly used to explain or vulgarise medical discourse for the viewers. Naturally, due to the taboo nature of disease, they also fulfil a euphemistic or dysphemistic function depending on which character is using them, which often leads to a humorous interpretation for the viewers. Finally, they often contribute to the characterisation of the protagonist and the series.


Functions; House, M.D.; medical TV series; metaphor; X-phemisms.

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