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Collocational analysis as a gateway to critical discourse analysis : the case of the construction of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in the UK press.

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

  • Costas Gabrielatos
Publication date10/03/2008
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventInvited talk - English Language Institute, University of Michigan
Duration: 10/03/2008 → …


ConferenceInvited talk
CityEnglish Language Institute, University of Michigan
Period10/03/08 → …


This paper presents an analysis of discourses surrounding the representation of minority groups in newspapers and demonstrates how this discourse in turn constructs these groups’ identity. The analysis took place in the context of a project looking at the representation of refugees and asylum seekers in UK newspapers. A corpus was built for the purposes of this study and comprises 140 million words (175,000 articles from 15 UK newspapers), spanning 1996-2005. The paper focuses on the contribution of corpus research to (critical) discourse analysis and, more specifically, on the collocational analysis of the words refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants (RASIM). It does so by developing the notion of consistent collocates (akin to key keywords; i.e. collocates present in at least seven out of the ten annual sub-corpora). Collocations are a suitable vehicle for the discoursal presentation of a group, because they can contribute to “a semantic analysis of a word” (Sinclair, 1992), and because “they can convey messages implicitly and even be at odds with an overt statement” (Hunston, 2002). The analysis also employs the related notions of semantic preference, semantic prosody, and discourse prosody. The clustering of consistent collocations provides evidence of systematic semantic associations as well as metaphors commonly employed in racist discourse. Arguably, these patterns reveal elements of the underlying discourses relating to RASIM.

Bibliographic note

Invited talk at the English Language Institute, University of Michigan, 10 March 2008.