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