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Using Sketch Engine to examine the presentation of Islam and Muslims in the UK press.

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

Publication date10/09/2010
Number of pages0
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Event43rd Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) - University of Aberdeen
Duration: 9/09/201011/09/2010


Conference43rd Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
CityUniversity of Aberdeen


The presentation reports on the outcomes of the ESRC-funded project, Presentation of Islam and Muslims in the UK press, 1998-2009. The project used a corpus-based approach, while also being informed by moral panic theory (Cohen, 1972), and notions central to Critical Discourse Analysis (e.g. Reisigl & Wodak, 2001). The project used a corpus of 143 million words, containing over 200,000 articles published in 12 national UK newspapers and their Sunday editions between 1998 and 2009. The corpus articles were derived from the Nexis UK online database, via a query containing the terms Islam*, Muslim*, and related words (e.g. Quran). The analysis used Sketch Engine (Kilgarriff et al., 2004), an online corpus tool which utilises a grammatically tagged and syntactically parsed corpus to produce “word sketches”, that is, the grammatical constructions that a word is frequently found in, as well as its salient collocates within these constructions. The analysis focused on the patterns of use of the word forms, Islam, Islamic, Islamist(s) and Muslim, Muslims (both as nouns and adjectives). The examination of their most salient sketches and strong collocates, as well as the most frequent nouns, adjectives and lexical verbs in the corpus lead to three interrelated observations: a) Islam is treated predominantly as an ideology, rather than a religion. b) The use of Muslim as an adjective is associated more frequently with issues of governance (e.g. politics, law) than with issues of religion. c) Irrespective of the stance towards Islam and Muslims that may be projected in particular articles or newspapers, the discussion of Islam and Muslims in the UK press is, overall, carried out within contexts of armed/social conflict and/or terrorism, and the attendant issues of social disruption, violence, destruction and death.