Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
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This paper examines the contribution of translation to the shaping of ISIS concepts and discourses circulated through its media machine, which includes and the . It will explore propaganda strategies used by ISIS to disseminate radical thought through professional digitalized media by drawing on a corpus of texts published in such outlets – including political speeches given by ISIS leaders, as well as online reports, all of which are translated by ISIS’ own translators, the (the industrious ones). A comparative analysis of the original and the translated texts reveals a number of translation strategies that ISIS deploys to construct radicalized knowledge, to serve a violent agenda, and to appeal to a large number of potential foreign fighters. It will be argued that non-translation is a particularly important strategy employed to achieve these objectives. It will also be suggested that Islamic concepts such as , and other motifs saturated with an ancient Islamic register tend to be left untranslated as a way of reinforcing perceptions of Muslim unity, power, allegiance, and brotherhood against the enemy. The analysis further reveals that particular ideological concepts are left untranslated when ISIS propagandists advocate fighting against the “unbelievers”, arguably in an attempt to galvanize the group’s followers – whether by appealing to their religious fanaticism or by promoting the uncritical reproduction of symbolic discourses grounded in Islamic history. These strategies highlight a need for awareness of the importance of language use in the reproduction of radical systems of thought and the use of (non-)translation for recruitment purposes. This socio-political linguistic study draws on Critical Discourse Analysis – incorporating the work of Fairclough (1995)Gramsci (1971) and Bourdieu (1991) to unravel the connections that exist between language use and the power of ISIS as a group, and to illustrate how specific translation techniques are adopted to reinforce the Caliphate’s hegemony.


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