The Paratextual Analysis of English Translations of Arabic Media Narratives on Daesh

Nael F M Hijjo, Surinderpal Kaur


This paper investigates the role of media translations in reframing ‘reality’ and inserting ideologically-loaded concepts to promote certain agendas. It further examines the effectiveness of paratextual (re)framings as a strategic device in the manipulation of ‘reality’. It analyses the English translations of the Arabic media narratives on ‘Daesh’ employing the interdisciplinary approach of Baker (2006) narrative theory-informed. These English translations were published on the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI); a Washington-based think tank that is largely quoted by the Western, mainly the US, prominent media outlets. The data collected for the purpose of this study consists of 46 Arabic editorials alongside their 25 English translations. The findings of this research suggest that paratextual devices including titles, introductions, headings, images and their captions, and endnotes and glossaries are significant (re)framing tools that function outside the immediate text. MEMRI is found to successfully reframe the Arabic narratives on ‘Daesh’ in an attempt to sustain and further the meta-narrative of the ‘War on Terror’. The significance of this study is specifically to draw the awareness of the public of the different rival narratives circulated by the media.


Keywords: Daesh; MEMRI; paratextual (re)framing; terrorism; translation

Full Text:



Abbs, P. & Richardson, J. (1990) The Forms of Narrative: A Practical Guide, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abdi, R. & Basaratie, A. (2016). A Critical Analysis of the Representation of Yemen Crisis in Ideologically-Loaded Newspaper Headlines. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. Vol. 16(3), 37-52.

Al-Herthani, M. M. (2009). Edward Said in Arabic: Narrativity and Paratextual Framing. PhD diss. The University of Manchester.

Al-Sharif, S. SH. (2009) "Translation in the Service of Advocacy: narrating Palestine and Palestinian women in translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)", PhD diss., The University of Manchester.

Awaji, A. A. (2001). "فرق معاصرة تنتسب الى الاسلام: وبيان موقف الاسلام منه" (Contemporary Groups Affiliated with Islam: Clarifying the Position of Islam). Jeddah: Modern Golden Library.

Azariah, D. (2011). Whose blog is it anyway? Seeking the author in the formal features of travel blogs. In Voicing the Unseen: Just write it! 2010: Proceedings of the Eleventh Humanities Graduate Research Conference. Faculty of Humanities.

Baker, M. (2006). Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account. London: Routledge.

Baker, M. (2007). Reframing Conflict in Translation. Social Semiotics. Vol. 17, 151-169.

Baker, M. (2010). Narratives of Terrorism and Security: ‘Accurate’ Translations, Suspicious Frames. Critical Studies on Terrorism. Vol. 3(3),


Bolte, S. & Keong, Y. C. (2014). The Refugee Swap Deal in Malaysian Online News Reports: Ideology and Representation. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. Vol. 14(2), 93-108.

Brännlund, E., Kovacic, T. & Lounasmaa, A. (2013). Narratives in/of Translations: A Trialogue on Translating Narratives Cross-Culturally. Narrative Works. Vol. 3(2), 72-91.

Bruner, J. (1991). The Narrative Construction of Reality. Critical inquiry. Vol. 18(1), 1-21.

Butler, M. (2012). Selling a 'just 'war: Framing, Legitimacy, and Us Military Intervention. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.

Champion, T. B. (1997). “Tell Me Somethin'good”: A description of Narrative Structures among African American Children. Linguistics and Education. Vol. 9(3), 251-286.

Croucher, S. M., Homsey, D., Brusch, E., Buyce, C., DeSilva, S. & Thompson, A. (2013). Prejudice toward American Muslims. Journal of Intercultural Communication. Vol. 32.

Denzin, N. K.. (1989). Interpretive Biography: Qualitative Research Methods Series 17. California and London: Sage 23.

Fisher, W. R. (1997). Narration, Reason, and Community. In Hinchman, Lewis P. & Hinchman, Sandra K. (Eds.), Memory, Identity, Community: The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences (pp. 27-307). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Genette, G. (1987 & 1997). Seuils. Paris: Editions Du Seuil. Trans. By Jane E. Lewin as Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gibson, S. (Ed.). (2015). Impact of Communication and the Media on Ethnic Conflict. IGI Global.

Graesser, A., Golding, J. M. & Long, D. L. (1991). Narrative Representation and Comprehension. Handbook of Reading Research. Vol. 2, 171-205.

Gray, J. (2015). Afterword: studying media with and without paratexts. In Geraghty, L. (Ed.), Popular Media Cultures (pp. 230-237). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Hazaea, A. N., Ibrahim, N. & Mohd Nor, N. F. (2014). Discursive legitimation of human values: Local-global power relations in global media discourse. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. Vol. 14(1). 171-187.

Hijjo, N. F. M. (Forthcoming). Narrative Analysis of MEMRI’s English Translations of Arabic Editorials on Daesh. Unpublished doctoral thesis, The University of Malaya.

Karamcheti, I. (1995). Aimé Césaire’s Subjective Geographies: Translating Place and the Difference It Makes. In Dingwaney, A., & Maier, C. (Eds.), Between Languages and Cultures: Translation and cross-cultural text (pp. 181-197). University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kim, K. H. (2017). Reframing the victims of WWII through translation. Target. International Journal of Translation Studies. Vol. 29(1), 87-109.

King, E. G. & Wells, R. A. (2009). Framing the Iraq War Endgame: War's Denouement in an Age of Terror. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kovala, U. (1996). Translations, paratextual mediation, and ideological closure. Target. International Journal of Translation Studies. Vol. 8(1), 119-147.

Lehrer, A. (1988). A note on the semantics of-ist and-ism. American Speech. Vol. 63(2), 181-185.

Marine-Roig, E. (2017). Online Travel Reviews: A Massive Paratextual Analysis. In Zheng X. & Daniel R. Fesenmaier (Eds.), Analytics in Smart Tourism Design (pp. 179-202). Springer International Publishing.

Norris, P., Kern, M. & Just, M. R. (2003). Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public. Psychology Press.

Pan, Z. & Kosicki, M. G. (1993). Framing analysis: An approach to news discourse. Political Communication. Vol. 10(1), 55-75.

Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Suny Press.

Richards, I. (2017). “Good and Evil” narratives in Islamic State media and Western government statements. Critical Studies on Terrorism. 1-25.

Silverblatt, A. (Ed.). (2013). The Praeger Handbook of Media Literacy [2 Volumes]. ABC-CLIO.

Silverblatt, A., Ferry, J. & Finan, B. (2015). Approaches to Media Literacy: A Handbook. London: Routledge.

Somers, M. R. (1992). Narrativity, narrative identity, and social action: Rethinking English working-class.

Formation. Social Science History. Vol. 16(4), 591-630.

Somers, M. R. (1994). The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach. Theory and Society. Vol. 23(5), 605-649.

Somers, M. R. (1997). Deconstructing and Reconstructing Class Formation Theory: Narrativity, Relational Analysis, and Social Theory. In John R. Hall (Ed.), Reworking Class (pp. 73-105). Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.

Somers, M. R. & Gibson, G. D. (1994). Reclaiming the Epistemological “Other”: Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity. In Craig C. (Ed.), Social Theory and the Politics of Identity (pp. 37-99). Oxford and Cambridge MA: Blackwell.

Taboada, M., Trnavac, R. & Goddard, C. (2017). On being negative. Corpus Pragmatics. Vol. 1(1), 57-76.

Thawabteh, M. A. (2012). Translation and Conflict: Two Narratives of the Same Coin. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. Vol. 18(4), 215-226.

van Gilder, B. J. & Massey, Z. B. (2015). Islamaphobic Discourse and Interethnic Conflict: The Influence of News Media Coverage. Impact of Communication and the Media on Ethnic Conflict. Vol. 147.

Wendland, E. R. (2010). Framing the Frames: A Theoretical Framework for the Cognitive Notion of “Frames of Reference.”. Journal of Translation. Vol. 6(1), 27-50.

Wennerstrom, A. (2001). Intonation and evaluation in oral narratives. Journal of Pragmatics. Vol. 33(8), 1183-1206.

Welby, P. (2014). What is ISIS. Tony Blair Fait Foundation. Retrieve Online June 17 2014 from

Whitebrook, M. (2001). Identity, Narrative and Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

Winters, M. (2017). A Textual and Paratextual Analysis of an Emigrant Autobiography and Its Translation. In Boase-Beier, J., Davies, P., Hammel, A. & Winters M. (Eds.), Translating Holocaust Lives (pp. 73-92).

Wolf, W. (2006). Introduction: Frames, Framings and Framing Borders in Literature and Other Media. In Wolf, W. & Bernhart, W. (Eds.), Framing borders in literature and other media (pp. 1-40). New York: Rodopi.

Wu, X. (2017). Framing, reframing and the transformation of stance in news translation: a case study of the translation of news on the China–Japan dispute. Language and Intercultural Communication. 1-18.

Ziegler, D., Gerster, M. & Krämer, S. (eds) (2015). Framing Excessive Violence: Discourse and Dynamics, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.



  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157