The Systematic Adaptation of Violence Contexts in the ISIS Discourse: A Contrastive Corpus-Based Study

  • Esra’ Moustafa AbdelzaherEmail author
Original Paper


Categorizing an act as ‘violence’, ‘resistance’, ‘defense’ or ‘punishment’ depends on the context within which the act occurs. Concerned with the context of violence, this study adopts a pragmatic approach to focus on the techniques ISIS uses to project participants involved in the context of violence, in corpora representing the Arabic and English ISIS discourses in 2014 and 2015. FrameNet is employed to identify the typical participants in the violence contexts/frames. Results show that the projection of participants in violent events systematically varies according to the addressed society ISIS targets. ISIS depends on priming historical conflicts to urge hostile encounter against socio-linguistically and historically diverse enemies. Addressing the Arab world in which the Shia/Sunni conflict is central, ISIS wages the war mainly against Safawi armies. However, the ISIS English discourse basically activates the Crusader/Muslim war. Overall, four expandable designations are constantly used to label any ISIS enemy: ‘crusader’ for Christian enemies; ‘Murtadd’ for Sunni Muslim opponents; ‘Safawi’ for Shia adversaries and ‘Kuffar/disbelievers’ for religiously undefined groups.


Context Contrastive analysis FrameNet ISIS Theological conflict Violence 



I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on the earlier draft of this article. I would also like to thank Miss Megan E. Wagy and Dr Tyler J. True, Northern Arizona University, for the esthetic work they did by proofreading this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

41701_2019_55_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (197 kb)
Yoshikoder Interface and the Added Violence Dictionary (JPEG 197 kb)
41701_2019_55_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (228 kb)
UAM Annotation Interface and Annotation Scheme (JPEG 227 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English LanguageAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt

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