The paper reports on the collocational analysis of the adjective Muslim in a specialised 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 was carried out using 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 examination of the most salient sketches of Muslim indicates that it is most frequently used as an attribute of ethnic or national identity and attendant differentiating features, rather than a descriptor of religious belief. Also, irrespective of the stance towards Muslims that may be projected in particular articles or newspapers, the use of Muslim in the UK press is, overall, connected to issues of armed or social conflict and terrorism.
Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., & McEnery, T. (2013). Sketching Muslims: A Corpus Driven Analysis of Representations Around the Word ‘Muslim’ in the British Press 1998–2009. Applied Linguistics, 34(3), 255-278. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/ams048