Representation of viewpoint in opinion discourse : a comparative linguistic investigation of Arabic and British newspapers at time of conflict
The study proceeds from a theoretical assumption, that opinion discourse during wartime manipulates readers to respond in certain ways to the events of war and the participants in conflicts. The freedom offered to opinion expression is sometimes abusively exploited particularly when opposing perspectives exist and transpire in the representation of a conflict and which are revealed by the comparative investigation of the opinion discourse of the press of the cultures at war. Such disparity may actually help in inferring the causes and implications of a particular conflict from the common grounds observed between newspapers in representing such a conflict. Therefore, contrary to conventional discourse analysis, this study examines the discourse of opinion articles and editorials of Arabic and British newspapers by applying a linguistically-oriented conceptual framework that uncovers the sociocultural aspects determining each culture's use of language in representing the latest conflicts between the West and the Muslim-Arab worlds. The framework of the study is set to be able to analyse the opinion discourse of Arabic and British newspapers in their representation of the three consecutive conflicts (in the early days of their outbreak): the attack on the World Trade Centre in the US (September 11,2001), the war on Afghanistan (October 07,2001) and the war on Iraq (March 20,2003) and through which the sides in the conflict are incongruently portrayed. The opinion discourse of British and Arabic newspapers following such conflicts was characterised by exhibiting powerful linguistic techniques which are employed to represent the authors' viewpoint and arguments more effectively. These techniques are envisaged in the employment of a rhetorical structure; lexical selectivity and a strategy of enforcement all of which contribute powerfully to manipulative message conveyance. The comparative approach to opinion discourse of Arabic and British newspapers is the centre of discussion. The study reveals historical and religious connections to the current struggles between the West and the Muslim world as it reveals the deeply-rooted ideologies of each culture which are manifested in the emphasis of Our good and Their bad actions and the mitigation of Our bad and Their good attributes that are spontaneously transmitted via the culturally-driven opinion discourse. Disparity in the manner of presenting viewpoints relating to the conflicts and its sides was observed among the newspapers within a single culture as well as similarity was detected across the cultures in question. The reference to the good aspects of the other side is, in some cases, marginally detected which reflects the severe tension in the relationship between the West and Islam.