Analyzing the Political Uses of Figures Of Speech in Non-State Leaders' Rhetorical Titles: Case Studies of Al-Qa'ida and ISIS
Ali Badeen Al-Rikaby, Tengku Sepora Tengku Mahadi and Debbita Ai Lin Tan
Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 26, Issue T, December 2018
Keywords: Discourse analysis, figurative language, political leaders, rhetorical titles, tropes
Published on: 24 Dec 2018
A figure of speech, or trope, is often used to communicate ideas as mental models that go beyond the literal and common use of words. The present study is a discourse analysis of 50 titles delivered by 15 al-Qa'ida and ISIS leaders between 2005 and 2015. It is conducted to: 1) investigate the use of figures of speech in non-state leaders' rhetorical titles, and 2) analyze the types of figurative language most frequently employed in their hortatory discourse of jihad. Their tropes are analyzed because figurative language is not neutral vis-à-vis politics and is frequently situated in relation to a jihadist ideology. To achieve the objectives of this study, Leigh's (1994) framework, which includes his categorization of various types of tropes, was adopted to analyze the 50 titles sourced from three different sources, including international websites that are directly linked to the non-state leaders themselves. Our content analysis includes frequency measures of wordplays as well as qualitative evaluations of the selected titles. The results reveal that certain figures of speech – namely allusions, metaphors and ironies – were widely used while others were not. Also, some tropes such as oxymorons and parallelisms were simply not utilized at all. These findings are of vital interest to instructors, students and scholars engaged in media discourse and pragmatics, as well as rhetorical analysis and politics of language. Directions for future research are also outlined.