Comparing EDL Discourses Using Word Clouds

For this post I’ve used an online visualization software called ‘TagCrowd’ available at


I’m interested in how texts created by EDL leaders differ from those of members who post on their Facebook page and used  a visualization software to help with this.

The first image is the word cloud created from a corpus of EDL texts.

edl word cloud

The second image was created using texts from EDL supports who posted on the groups Facebook page.

edl-fb word cloud


By comparing and contrasting these two images, it is possible to observe discourse topics, although not what is being said about the particular themes. It appears that both corpora contain discourses related to islam, muslims, edl, british, halal country and government. There appears to be differences also. Certain words caught my attention among the many differences between the two images. The EDL corpus contains discourses related to topics such as extremism, radical, sharia, terrorism and community. Such words were not significant in the Facebook corpus. However, the Facebook corpus contained discourses which were not prominent in  the EDL corpus. These include racist, hate, white, grooming, scum, kids, girls children, women and sex.

Although it is not possible to gain conclusive evidence of the discourses present in the corpora, it does appear that the EDL hierarchy are more concerned with issues related to Islamic extremism and terrorism. The corpus of Facebook text contains discourses related to family, race, and conflict (abuse, bad, grooming, hate, idiot, kill, racist, rape, scum).

Although the text contain fundamental similarities, there are also significant differences.



Incitement to Hatred on Every Concordance Line

Continuing on the theme of the English Defence League, I find analyzing the concordance lines from a corpus of texts from the EDL’s Facebook page quite alarming.

In England and Wales it can be an offence to stir up hatred on the grounds of:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation.

I’m using Sketch Engine ( to analyze the data, and this is an example of what I am observing:

incitement to hatred

The EDL’s motto is “Not racist, not violent, no longer silent”, and yet members post such material online. The data appear to contain examples of incitement to hatred. From a linguistics approach perhaps they are also examples of lexical drift as the discourse becomes increasingly violent when compared with texts written by EDL leaders.

Analysing EDL Corpora Data Using WordWanderer

Recently, I’ve been looking at corpora of texts from the EDL website and the EDL Facebook page. From the corpus of Facebook data, one of the keywords is Muslims. Using the online visualisation tool WordWanderer (, I want to show the nature of the collocates of this keyword.


Just by spending a minute looking at the visualisation produced by this software package, I think you are able to discover the discourses produced by the members of a group who claim to be non-racist and non-violent. Collocates such as kill, eradicate, invade, spread and dirty begin to demonstrate the nature of the texts.

A Corpus Linguistic Study of Right-Wing Populist Discourses.

This is something I’ve been working on recently:


A Corpus Linguistic Study of Right-Wing Populist Discourses.




This paper uses methods from corpus linguistics to analyse discourses produced by a populist far-right movement, the English Defence League (EDL), an organisation which the group elite claim is opposed to the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in the United Kingdom. Two corpora are analysed using the online Corpus Query System, Sketch Engine (Kilgarriff et al. 2004); one corpus is compiled of texts published by the group leaders on their official website and the second of texts written by group members on the organisation’s Facebook page. While the group’s mission statement declares that their aim is to oppose radical Islam, an investigation of the data utilising keyword analysis, concordance and collocational information, and Word Sketches demonstrates that they are a racist organisation opposed to all forms Islam and immigration of Muslims to the United Kingdom. The study of group members’ texts reveals a discrimination against Muslims based on cultural otherness, intolerance and xenophobia. Furthermore, by using corpus linguistic methodologies, it is argued that although the group elite declare that their aim is to create a non-violent message concerning the supposed threat of radical Islam to the native culture, a significant number of group members are inspired to greater levels of racist rhetoric, Islamophobia or to incite acts of hatred and violence, which it is claimed may lead to instances of violence and further divisions and alienation within communities of the United Kingdom or other multicultural societies. By investigating the discourses of racist, populist movements such as the EDL, contemporary racist ideologies, hate speech and forms of mobilization may be more fully understood and countered.


Keywords: Right-Wing Populism, Islamophobia, the English Defence League, Hate Speech




Adam Kilgarriff, Pavel Rychly, Pavel Smrz, David Tugwell. 2004. ‘The Sketch Engine.’ Proceedings of Euralex, Lorient, France; pp. 105-116