This Critical review will discuss the article The Language of Islamic Extremism towards an Automated Identification of Beliefs, Motivations and Justifications. (2002) It will be argued that while the study exhibits depth of research, clearly defined corpus techniques and a nuanced area of discussion, the aims of the paper are not explicitly defined and the acknowledged limitations of the study leave the conclusions relatively underwhelming.
Prentice, Rayson and Taylor (2012: 259-260) aim to indicate how and why corpus linguistics techniques can be utilised, in order to discover the ideologies expressed by Islamic extremists through various collected material. As a hypothesis however this is rather inexplicit, as no suggestion is given to what the linguists expect to discover, and the description of the ‘techniques’ is quite vague. This is in contrast to Alharbi (2012: 109) who declares clearly what terms will be traced, in what context and through what techniques. This study represents a shift to a distinct area of research, as the vast majority of corpus studies have focused not on the language of Islamic extremists, but on the rhetoric used to represent Muslims. Baker et al. (2013) examines uses of the word Muslim in the British Media; Salama (2011) explores how Wahhabi Islam and Saudi Islam are represented in the United States; Alharbi (2012) studies the Australian media and how Islam, Arab and Muslim are reflected; and Martin and Phelan (2002) compares the immediate representations of Islam following 9/11 on US Television and online. While not only proving useful in providing unique data, Prentice et al. (2012) have uncovered a new area of study and prompt further corpus linguistic research.
One way in which this article excels is in the depth of research conducted prior to the study. Prentice et al., (2012: 260-263) extensively review the vast array of literature surrounding the topic, while also asserting the nuances of their proposed study. It is indicated (Prentice et al. 2012: 261-262) that only works by Cherkoff (2008) and Stout (2009) directly deal with the subject matter at hand, and it is shown that this research had influenced the researchers to reinvigorate the research through the use of corpus linguistic techniques. The articles literature review is extremely well rounded, as well as the direct influences, Prentice et al., also delve into the large pool of work on Islamic representation, including corpus linguistic works from Martin & Phelan (2002) and Baker (2009). The discourse of other extremist groups in works from Bowden (2008) amongst others is also discussed to provide parallels to the linguistic focus. Crucially, Prentice et al., (2012: 263) also discuss the techniques which they will use and refer to other works to validate these choices. The depth of the research is contextualised in reference to Salama’s (2011) article, who fails to provide any research regarding his subject matter.
Corpus size and corpus data...