The framing of Muslims on the Spanish Internet

Manuel Alcántara-Plá 1  and Ana Ruiz-Sánchez 1
  • 1 Departamento de Lingüística General y Lenguas Modernas, 28049, Madrid, Spain
Manuel Alcántara-Plá
  • Corresponding author
  • Departamento de Lingüística General y Lenguas Modernas, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28049, Spain
  • Email
  • Further information
  • Manuel Alcántara-Plá is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He is member of the Wor(l)ds Lab research group. His research interests include corpus linguistics, discourse, and digital communication. More specifically, his current work examines the linguistic characteristics of the New Media using Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies. He is the PI of the project “Framing and Articulation Strategies in the Political Discourse on Twitter” (2015-2017), and co-editor in chief of the international journal CHIMERA: Romance Corpora and Linguistic Studies.
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar
and Ana Ruiz-Sánchez
  • Departamento de Lingüística General y Lenguas Modernas, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28049, Spain
  • Email
  • Further information
  • Ana Ruiz Sánchez is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and has a European PhD in German Studies. She is member of the Wor(l)ds Lab research group. She is a researcher in the Project “Framing and Articulation Strategies in the Political Discourse on Twitter” (2015-2017). She is interested in the analysis of intercultural discourse in Europe, and works as a consultant on Human Rights and Minorities. She is co-author of Interkulturelle Literatur in Deutschland (Metzler 2000) and Bewegte Sprache: Vom ‘Gastarbeiterdeutsch’ zum interkulturellen Schreiben (Thelem 2014). She coordinates the Spanish civic initiative Pacto de Convivencia.
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar


In this work we study the representation of Muslims on the Internet in Spain. After the terrorist attacks in Europe, Islamophobia and Muslimophobia have grown considerably in our society. There is a strong rejection of Muslim groups and individuals, they are perceived not only as different, but also as dangerous and violent. We follow a cognitive linguistics approach using corpus linguistics as a methodology in order to know which concepts are related to Muslims in discourse. We have used three corpora: the Spanish part of the esTenTen corpus, which is a large web corpus intended to give a picture of the Spanish language on the Internet; a Twitter corpus encompassing tweets published by five main political parties in Spain and their candidates in 2015-2016; and a third corpus of articles on the topic “Muslims” from four important digital newspapers (El País, La Vanguardia, La Voz de Galicia, and ABC). We examine word co-occurrence patterns of islámico (‘Islamic’) and musulmán (‘Muslim’) to shed light on the stigmatization of this minority in the online discourse and its frequent presence in negative frames.

  • Adorno, Theodor W., Else Frenkel-Brunwik, Daniel Levinson, & R. Newit Sanford. 1965. La personalidad autoritaria. Buenos Aires: Editorial Proyección.

  • Alcántara-Pla, Manuel & Ana Ruiz. 2017. Not for Twitter: Migration as a silenced topic in 2015 Spain General Election. In Melani Schröter & Charlotte Taylor (eds.), Exploring silence and absence in discourse: Empirical approaches. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Alcántara-Pla, Manuel & Ana Ruiz. (forthcoming). ¿Quién es el pueblo? La exclusión de las minorías en la campaña electoral 2015 en España. In Francoise Sullet-Nylander (ed.), Political discourse and the extremes in the Romance speaking countries. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press.

  • Allport, Gordon. 1962. La naturaleza del prejuicio. Buenos Aires: Eudeba.

  • Andrés, Francisco de. 21 February, 2017. El velo islámico: ¿tradición o símbolo religioso?), ABC (accesssed 21 February 2017).

  • Awass, Omar. 1996. The representation of Islam in the American media. Hamdard Islamicus 19(3). 87–102.

  • Baker, Paul, Costas Gabrielatos & Tony McEnery. 2012. Sketching Muslims: A corpus driven analysis of representations around the word “Muslim” in the British press 1998-2009. Applied Linguistics 34(3). 255–278.

  • Baroni, Marco, Adam Kilgarriff, J. Pomikálek & Pavel Rychlý. 2006. WebBootCaT: A web tool for instant corpora. Torino: Proc. Euralex.

  • Barsalou, Laurence W. 1992. Frames, concepts, and conceptual fields. In Adrienne Lehrer & Eva Feder Kittay (eds.), Frames fields, and contrasts, 21–74. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • Bernal del Castillo, Jesús. 2014. Política Criminal en España y discriminación xenófoba: la centralidad de los delitos de provocación a la discriminación. Política criminal 9(18). 371–399.

  • Blanco, Amalio, Javier Horcajo & Flor Sánchez. 2016. Cognición social. Madrid: Pearson.

  • Busse, Dietrich. 2012. Frame-Semantik. Ein Kompendium. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  • Brin, Sergey & Lawrence Page. 1998. The anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual Web search engine. Stanford: Stanford University (accessed 1 August 2017).

  • Brown, Rupert. 1995. Prejuicio. Su Psicología social. Madrid: Alianza.

  • Cheng, Jennifer E. 2015. Islamophobia, Muslimophobia or racism? Parliamentary discourses on Islam and Muslims in debates on the minaret ban in Switzerland. Discourse & Society 26(5). 562–586.

  • Dietz, Gunther. 2004. Mujeres musulmanas en Granada: discursos sobre comunidad, exclusión de género y discriminación etnorreligiosa. Migraciones Internacionales 2(3). 5–33.

  • Fillmore, Charles J. 1982. Frame semantics. Linguistics in the morning calm. Seoul: Hanshin Publishing Co.

  • Glynn, Dylan. 2010. Synonymy, lexical fields, and grammatical constructions. A study in usagebased cognitive semantics. In Hans Schmid & Susanne Handl, Cognitive foundations of linguistic usage patterns, 89–118. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Kilgarriff, Adam, Vít Baisa, Jan Bušta, Miloš Jakubíček, Vojtěch Kovvár, Jan Michelfeit, Pavel Rychlý & Vít Suchomel. 2014. The Sketch Engine: Ten years on. Lexicography 1. 7–36.

  • Kilgarriff, Adam & Irene Renau. 2013. esTenTen, a vast web corpus of Peninsular and American Spanish. Procedia: Social and Behavioural Sciences 95. 12–19.

  • Kopytowska, Monika. 2009. Corpus linguistics and an eclectic approach to the study of news – the mechanism of framing.” In Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk & Katarzyna Dziwirek (eds.), Studies in cognitive corpus linguistics, 83–109. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  • Kopytowska, Monika. 2017. Discourses of hate and radicalism in action. In Monika Kopytowska (ed.), Contemporary discourses of hate and radicalism across space and genres, 1–12. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  • Lakoff, George. 2004. Don’t think of an elephant. Hartford: Chelsea Green Publishing.

  • Lakoff, George & Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

  • Langacker, Ronald. 1991. Foundations of cognitive grammar. Descriptive application. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Leezenberg, Michiel. 2017a. Free speech, hate speech, and hate beards. In Daniel Silva (ed.), Language and violence: Pragmatic perspectives, 141–170. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Leezenberg, Michiel. 2017b. Discursive violence and responsibility: Notes on the pragmatics of Dutch populism. In Monika Kopytowska (ed.), Contemporary discourses of hate and radicalism across space and genres, 243–270. Amsterdam/Philadephia: John Benjamins.

  • Martínez-Torrón, Javier. 2009. La cuestión del velo islámico en la jurisprudencia de Estrasburgo. Madrid: Delta Publicaciones.

  • Moore, Kerry, Paul Mason & Justin Matthew Lewis. 2008. Images of Islam in the UK: The representation of British Muslims in the national print news media 2000-2008. Cardiff: Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

  • Pérez de la Fuente, Óscar. 2010. El enfoque español sobre el lenguaje de odio. In Oliva Martínez & J. Daniel (eds.), Una discusión sobre identidad, minorías y solidaridad, 133–156. Madrid: Dykinson.

  • Rychlý, Pavel. 2008. A lexicographer-friendly association score. In Petr Sojka & Aleš Horak (eds.), Proceedings of Recent Advances in Slavonic Natural Language Processing, 6–9. Karlova Studánka: Masaryk University.

  • Rosati, Sara. 6 June, 2017. Cuando llevar el velo islámico te deja sin trabajo. El País (accessed 30 June 2017).

  • Ruiz, Juan José. 2011. La prohibición del velo islámico en la enseñanza pública: la perspectiva de la igualdad de género. Revista Española De Derecho Constitucional 92. 103–140.

  • Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. Pantheon Books.

  • van Dijk, Teun A. 1998. Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage.

  • van Dijk, Teun A. 2016. Critical discourse studies: A socio-cognitive approach. In Ruth Wodak & Michael Meyer, Methods of Critical Discourse Studies, 143–176. London: Sage.

  • van Leeuwen, Theo. 1996. The representation of social actors. In Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard & Malcolm Coulthard (eds.), Texts and practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis, 32–70. London : Routledge.

  • Von Sikorski, Christian, Desirée Schmuck, Jörg Matthes & Alice Binder. 2017. “Muslims are not Terrorists”: Islamic State coverage, journalistic differentiation between terrorism and Islam, fear reactions, and attitudes toward Muslims. Mass Communication and Society 20(6). 825–848.

  • Wodak, Ruth & Michael Meyer. 2016. Methods of Critical Discourse Studies, 3rd edn. London: Sage.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Journal + Issues

Lodz Papers in Pragmatics publishes theoretical and empirical research in the area of pragmatics and related disciplines focused on human communication, both in everyday interactions and in the media, whether spoken or written, and whether institutional or interpersonal. It aims to provide a comprehensive perspective on today‘s pragmatics, integrating diverse research from all over the world and assisting in further defnition of the field.