Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811



Using corpus linguistics and qualitative, manual discourse analysis, this paper compares English and French extremist texts to determine how messages in different languages draw upon similar and distinct discursive themes and linguistic strategies. Findings show that both corpora focus on religion and rewards (i.e. for faith) and strongly rely on othering strategies. However, the English texts are concerned with world events whereas the French texts focus on issues specific to France. Also, while the English texts use Arabic code-switching as a form of legitimation, the French texts use a formal register and quotation from scripture in discussions of permissions, rights, obligations and laws. Finally, the English texts refer to and justify violence to a greater extent than the French texts. This paper contributes to the field of terrorism studies and the field of corpus linguistics by presenting a new approach to corpus-driven studies of discourse across more than one language.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Aggarwal, N. K.
    (2017) Exploiting the Islamic State-Taliban rivalry for counterterrorism messaging. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 12(1), 1–15. 10.1080/18335330.2016.1223868
    https://doi.org/10.1080/18335330.2016.1223868 [Google Scholar]
  2. Ali, S.
    (2015) British Muslims in Numbers. London: The Muslim Council of Britain.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Anthony, L.
    (2016) AntConc (Version 3.4.4) [Computer software]. Tokyo: Waseda University.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Baker, P.
    (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., & McEnery, T.
    (2013) Discourse Analysis and Media Attitudes: The Representation of Islam in the British Press. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511920103
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511920103 [Google Scholar]
  6. Buril, F.
    (2017) Changing God’s expectations and women’s consequent behaviors – How ISIS manipulates “Divine Commandments” to influence women’s role in Jihad. Journal of Terrorism Research, 8(3), 1–10. 10.15664/jtr.1363
    https://doi.org/10.15664/jtr.1363 [Google Scholar]
  7. Conoscenti, M.
    (2016) ISIS’ Dabiq communicative strategies, NATO and Europe. Who is learning from whom?InM. Ceretta & B. Curli (Eds.), Discourses and Counter-discourses on Europe: From the Enlightenment to the EU (pp.215–244). London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Droogan, J., & Peattie, S.
    (2016) Reading jihad: Mapping the shifting themes of Inspire magazine. Terrorism and Political Violence, 30(4), 684–717. 10.1080/09546553.2016.1211527
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2016.1211527 [Google Scholar]
  9. Esposito, J. L.
    (2014) The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Frampton, M., Fisher, A., & Prucha, N.
    (2017) The new netwar: Countering extremism online. London: Policy Exchange. Retrieved from: https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/the-new-netwar-countering-extremism-online/ (last accessedAugust 2018).
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Gabrielatos, C., & Marchi, A.
    (2012, September) Keyness: Appropriate metrics and practical issues. Paper presented atCADS 2012, Bologna, Italy.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Ghilan, M.
    (2013, June8). It’s extremist Muslims, not Islamic extremism. Al Jazeera. Retrieved fromwww.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/06/2013681251485552.html (last accessedAugust 2018).
    [Google Scholar]
  13. HM Government
    HM Government (2013) Tackling extremism in the UK. Cabinet Office: London. Retrieved fromhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/​file/263181/ETF_FINAL.pdf (last accessedAugust 2018).
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Hoey, M.
    (2005) Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203327630
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203327630 [Google Scholar]
  15. Ingram, H. J.
    (2017) An analysis of Inspire and Dabiq: Lessons from AQAP and Islamic State’s propaganda war. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 40(5), 357–375. 10.1080/1057610X.2016.1212551
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2016.1212551 [Google Scholar]
  16. Kramer, M.
    (2003) Coming to terms, Fundamentalists or Islamists?Middle East Quarterly, (Spring 2003), 65–77.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Laurence, J., & Vaïsse, J.
    (2006) Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Novenario, C. M. I.
    (2016) Differentiating Al Qaeda and the Islamic State Through Strategies Publicized in Jihadist Magazines. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 39(11), 953–967. 10.1080/1057610X.2016.1151679
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2016.1151679 [Google Scholar]
  19. O’Halloran, K., Tan, S., Wignell, P., Bateman, J. A., Duc-Son, P., Grossman, M., & Vande Moere, A.
    (2016) Interpreting text and image relations in violent extremist discourse: A mixed methods approach for big data analytics. Terrorism and Political Violence. Advance online publication. 10.1080/09546553.2016.1233871
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2016.1233871 [Google Scholar]
  20. Partington, A.
    (2004) Corpora and discourse, a most congruous beast. InA. Partington, J. Morley & L. Haarman (Eds.), Corpora and Discourse (pp.11–20). Bern: Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Prentice, S., Taylor, P., Rayson, P., Hoskins, A., & O’Loughlin, B.
    (2011) Analyzing the semantic content and persuasive composition of extremist media: A case study of texts produced during the Gaza conflict. Information Systems Frontiers, 13(1), 61–73. 10.1007/s10796‑010‑9272‑y
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-010-9272-y [Google Scholar]
  22. Prentice, S., Taylor, P., Rayson, R., & Giebels, E.
    (2012) Differentiating act from ideology: Evidence from messages for and against violent extremism. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 5(3), 289–306. 10.1111/j.1750‑4716.2012.00103.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-4716.2012.00103.x [Google Scholar]
  23. Rayson, P.
    (2009) Wmatrix: A Web-based Corpus Processing Environment [Computer software]. Lancaster: Lancaster University.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Tognini-Bonelli, E.
    (2001) Corpus Linguistics at Work. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.6
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.6 [Google Scholar]
  25. Vergani, M., & Bliuc, A. M.
    (2015) The evolution of ISIS’ language: A quantitative analysis of the language of the first year of Dabiq magazine. Sicurezza, Terrorismo e Società, 2, 7–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Vessey, R.
    (2013) Challenges in cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse studies. Corpora, 8(1), 1–26. 10.3366/cor.2013.0032
    https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2013.0032 [Google Scholar]
  27. Wignell, P., Tan, S., & O’Halloran, K.
    (2017a) Under the shade of AK47s: A multimodal approach to violent extremist recruitment strategies for foreign fighters. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 10(3), 429–452. 10.1080/17539153.2017.1319319
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2017.1319319 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2017b) Violent extremism and iconisation: Commanding good and forbidding evil?Critical Discourse Studies, 14(1), 1–22. 10.1080/17405904.2016.1250652
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2016.1250652 [Google Scholar]
  29. Wignell, P., Tan, S., O’Halloran, K., & Lange, R.
    (2017c) A mixed methods empirical examination of changes in emphasis and style in the extremist magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah. Perspectives on Terrorism, 11(2), 2–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Zelin, A. Y.
    (2015) Picture or it didn’t happen: A snapshot of the Islamic State’s official media output. Perspectives on Terrorism, 9(4).
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error