Journal Article

Sketching Muslims: A Corpus Driven Analysis of Representations Around the Word ‘Muslim’ in the British Press 1998–2009

Paul Baker, Costas Gabrielatos and Tony McEnery

in Applied Linguistics

Volume 34, issue 3, pages 255-278
Published in print July 2013 | ISSN: 0142-6001
Published online October 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-450X | DOI:

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This article uses methods from corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis to examine patterns of representation around the word Muslim in a 143 million word corpus of British newspaper articles published between 1998 and 2009. Using the analysis tool Sketch Engine, an analysis of noun collocates of Muslim found that the following categories (in order of frequency) were referenced: ethnic/national identity, characterizing/differentiating attributes, conflict, culture, religion, and group/organizations. The ‘conflict’ category was found to be particularly lexically rich, containing many word types. It was also implicitly indexed in the other categories. Following this, an analysis of the two most frequent collocate pairs: Muslim world and Muslim community showed that they were used to collectivize Muslims, both emphasizing their sameness to each other and their difference to ‘The West’. Muslims were also represented as easily offended, alienated, and in conflict with non-Muslims. The analysis additionally considered legitimation strategies that enabled editors to print more controversial representations, and concludes with a discussion of researcher bias and an extended notion of audience through online social networks.

Journal Article.  8817 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Teaching Theory and Methods

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