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A corpus-based approach to discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in UN and newspaper texts

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Abstract:

A corpus-based analysis of discourses of refugees and asylum seekers was carried out on data taken from a range of British newspapers and texts from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website, both published in 2003. Concordances of the terms refugee(s) and asylum seeker(s) were examined and grouped along patterns which revealed linguistic traces of discourses. Discourses which framed refugees as packages, invaders, pests or water were found in newspaper texts, although there were also cases of negative discourses found in the UNHCR texts, revealing how difficult it is to disregard dominant discourses. Lexical choice was found to be an essential aspect of maintaining discourses of asylum seekers — collocational analyses of terms like failed vs. rejected revealed the underlying attitudes of the writers towards the subject.

Keywords: collocation; concordance; corpus; discourse; refugee

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/jlp.4.2.04bak

Affiliations: Dept. of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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