A frame-semantic approach to analyzing concepts as complex semantic units of political discourse

The study of discourses and genres that give a special perspective, affecting other options in relation to various aspects of the political concept. Characterization of the projection of one frame on another, which serves as a cognitive function.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
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A. Bogomolov


While analyzing a series of concepts that shape the discourse of the recent Egyptian revolution, we have been long aware of a growing load of methodological concerns, discussion of which we have intentionally postponed until enough material is accumulated. Now it seems to be the right time to approach some of these issues and try to formulate preliminary solutions. We will illustrate our observations here by examples taken from the analysis of the concept of QISAS (RETALIATION), which we described in greater detail in some of our preceding publications. Our overall approach to the analysis of the political discourse concepts is based on frame-semantic analysis1. Each concept may be presented as a frame structure, which includes a set of elements and relations among them, which may presumably be described in terms of semantic roles (deep cases). We use the FrameNet2 project as a model, or rather a point of departure, in formulating frame descriptions that match our Arabic material. A matching English frame can sometimes be found with at least some frame elements corresponding to Arabic. For instance, the closest match to be found on FrameNet for QISAS appears to be Revenge3. The purpose of our study is, however, different from that of FrameNet. The latter takes a holistic approach striving to capture all frames and every detail in the structure of a particular frame, and while FrameNet does show interest in the way frames relate to each other, it does so from the point of view of classification4, while we are interested in how particular frames are functioning in a specific discourse. When traveling across discourses, concepts appear to demonstrate a high degree of variability, which FrameNet does not account for, while it does provide a lot of interesting material for a comparative study. Our points of interest include: (1) the way frames interact with each other in text and how such interaction contributes to creating new meanings and shaping distinctive features of a discourse; (2) how a particular concept varies across different types of discourses with some semantic elements of the frame coming to the fore and others being suppressed; and (3) the idiosyncratic elements in the concept's semantic structure and function, which point to differences between languages and cultures. Such difference in the purpose of study results in a different perspective on the frame structure. FrameNet differentiates between core and non-core elements. Core elements are mostly represented by tags that sound lexical (Avenger, Injured_party, Offender5), and while some of these may be reformulated in more generic semantic role terms as Agent, Patient, Experiencer etc., it is not always easy or even does not always make sense to do so. By contrast, tags used for non-core elements on FrameNet often appear to be generic and applicable to a wide range of frames (e. g. Degree, Depictive, Duration, Instrument etc.). Following this logic, one might assume that the none-core elements described in generic grammatical terms would constitute a less idiosyncratic part of the concept, but at least in instances that we have studies so far this is clearly not the case. The case in point is the quality of speediness/ promptness attached to QISAS, which in the FrameNet language would be described under the rubric of non-cores (Descriptive, Manner or Duration). In fact it has as much right to claim a specific tag, as it appears to be almost as essential an attribute of QISAS as its core elements - adjectives referring to other degrees of velocity or duration (e. g. muta'ahhar- belated) feature in collocation with qisas in exceptionally narrow and rare contexts and even without any explicit attributive, QISAS is conceived of as essentially a speedy action6. In other words, if we call the Experiencer of Revenge Offender, Speediness has almost as much rights to be called just Speediness as opposed to being subsumed under Manner. Our previous studies have also demonstrated7 that in discourse, at least in some instances, more than one frame may simultaneously be applied to make sense of a single situation. The manner, in which they combine, thus creating additional aspects of meaning, is not accidental and has much to do with the semantic structure of both frames. The requirement of coherence between two frames used to describe a single segment of reality that has been formulated by Lakoff and Johnson in the framework of their conceptual metaphor theory may perhaps be extended beyond cases that they called mixed metaphors8. Idiosyncratic elements of the frame raise the issue of the relationship between language and culture. Zebra normally will have one strongly privileged color depictive striped, featuring as the animal's essential or definitive characteristic just as much as speediness is a norm for QISAS in Arabic. While the Zebra case is defined by human experience outside of language, what about the speediness of QISAS? It appears to be also defined by a reality outside of language, a social as opposed to the natural one, even more specifically, by a particular ethnic culture9. This social reality is (re)con- structed through language and manifested in extra-linguistic semiotic systems such as behavioral codes. Events of the revolution are partly shaped by the language of revolution. Material facts on the ground created by its protagonists are also semiotic acts and, therefore, find ways back into the verbal discourses sustained by various often competing participants. The understanding of how concepts function in the verbal part of this complicated communication, or how the entire Egyptian revolutionary discourse evolves may not be reached if any part of this multipartite communication is discounted.

1. Within and beyond the frame

RETALIATION is not conceived of as an independent act that happens in and out of itself but comes as a response to another act. Semantic structure of QISAS, therefore, presupposes another event with overlapping set of actors, which we will refer to as Trigger. In the Islamic normative discourse on QISAS the Trigger is narrowly defined as KILLING (QATL) or PHYSICAL INJURY (JURH)10. Likewise, in the discourse of the recent Egyptian revolution QISAS mostly come up as a subject of demands in the aftermath of (mass) killings of activists by the authorities. In other lay discourses, however, the concept may often be applied to a wider range of Trigger events including those that fall far short of criminal offense, however broadly defined11. An authoritative modern dictionary provides a definition for the noun qisas, which seems to have been deliberately designed to fit both the narrow Islamic and broader lay usages: al-jaza ' `ala danb, an yufala bi-l-fa`il mitla ma fa`ala (payment for an offence/misdeed, to be done with the doer the way he did)12. The concept semantics in both types of discourses appears to be founded on the idea of qualitative equivalence between the Trigger (INJURY) and QISAS, which is conceived of as a type of PUNISHMENT13 for the Trigger act. In all contexts, QISAS also functions as a strong moral imperative, i. e. if a certain situation is defined as fitting the parameters of Trigger (particularly if it's KILLING), there may be any amount of disagreement between the parties to an argument, but never the very necessity to perform QISAS will be called into question14. The ideas of qualitative equivalence and moral imperativeness appear to be as definitive and as strongly associated with QISAS as the need for it to be completed promptly or in a speedy fashion, which we have discussed above. While the latter idea may be, conditionally, fitted into the frame-semantic scheme (e.g. filling a non-core element slot usually described as Manner), the former two appear to present some difficulty. Frames, at least on FrameNet, are represented as flat relational schemes conjoining finite sets of (core and non-core) elements, which ideas such as qualitative equivalence and moral imperativeness do not seem to fit into, as they appear to be located at a different level(s). It is also important to note that these ideas as well as the definition of Trigger15 are context-dependent, some may be foregrounded, some downplayed to varying degrees, or even totally suppressed. The concept thus shows considerable variability across discourses and may be described as a fuzzy set of variants with varying degrees of family resemblance to a prototype, which is best represented by QISAS of the Islamic normative discourse16. Below we shall review two extreme cases, which fit neither into the strict Islamic definition of QISAS, nor into the scheme of the concept dominating the political discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring. They may be seen as cases pointing to the boundary of the set as described above, similar to the case of ostrich in Eleanor Rosch's classical example with Birds17.

Example (1) is a popular song al-Badi ''Azlam18 by a modern Arab singer Jannat MahTd, which speaks in the name of a female abandoned by her lover, who now after a long absence wishes to renew relationship. The song's lyrics represent the girl's account of her feelings, which appear to be quite similar to what we find in Islamic normative discussion on the rationale of QISAS19. The girl complains of having suffered prolonged moral pains, and is now rejecting her former lover ostensibly to punish him by letting him taste his own medicine, she says to him garrib ba'a du ' min af`alak (so, try a taste of your [own] deeds)20, which sounds as a colloquial Egyptian Arabic rendering of the phrase that we find abundantly in Islamic normative discussion on QISAS: idaqatan li-l-jani ma adaqahu al-mujni `alayhi ([by] letting the offender taste what he let taste the injured party)21. The concept seems to be so deeply embedded in culture that it may even function as a leading theme of a text without being explicitly represented as a noun qisas or any of its verbal derivatives. This example stands in sharp contrast to the political discourse material that we discuss in our previous publications22 as it represents the Victim's perspective on QISAS. Interestingly, from this perspective, in contrast to the notion of speediness usually associated with it 23, QISAS may appear as a continuing process. The lyrical hero of the song is enjoying the moment of her revenge in every next utterance emphasizing the impossibility of reunion and effectively condemning the Offender to the same prolonged frustration that she had herself suffered before. Esthetic value of the song comes from its very capacity to capture the moment of what in Islamic normative terms is described tasaffi - the feeling of relief at the fulfilled revenge24. While the external perspective of speedy QISAS stays in sharp contrast to European idea of revenge as a dish best served cold15, the Victim's perspective proposed in the song appears to be quite in line with it or at least not in contradiction26. Example (2). There appear, to be cases when the idea of full qualitative equivalence between the Trigger and the Punishment may be suppressed, as is the case with the story of a stolen car flipping over on the thieves, which was presented as an instance of a speedy QISAS in an Egyptian newspaper: intaqama al-qadr min `atil wa zawjatihi bi-l-manufiya fa-`uqba qiyamihuma bi-s-satw al-musallah `ala sa'iq bi-markaz birkat as-sab` wa al-istTla' `ala sayyaratihi inqalabat bi-hima as-sayyara allatT saraqaha min sahibiha wa tamm naqluhuma ila al-mustasfa27 The fate has avenged an unemployed and his wife in Manufiya after they had performed an armed assault on a driver in the center of Birkat as-Sab` and have taken possession of his car, the car that they had stolen from its owner turned over on them and they were transported to the hospital28.

How do we account for such an obvious variation between these two cases? The difference perhaps is in the perspective. It is the Victim's perspective (Example 1) that privileges the qualitative equivalence of Punishment and Offense above all else, because it is believed to be the best way to heal the moral wound, and no other party but the Victim is so immediately concerned with this. As for Example (2), for an external observer, unless he is a Muslim scholar, it doesn't really matter so much whether the Punishment exactly matches the nature of the Offence. Particularly, if such observer is so removed from the scene and emotionally unconcerned as a reporter, or a reader of a news item. The fact that the reporter called his article QISAS is an interpretation and not a description of two consecutive events that have occurred without him being able to affect any influence on their course, while no one among the actual participants of the events (least of all the fictitious agent of the second event - the Fate), interpreted as Punishment, intended it to be a QISAS. On the other hand, it is hard to assume that the reporter was unaware of what QISAS means in a more strict sense of the term, including the treatment of the concept in the Islamic normative discourse. Attributing the event as QISAS, the reporter was operating in a manner not unlike the one described by Lakoff and Johnson in their seminal book, quite consciously representing a situation of crime and misfortune as QISAS (i. e. that of offence and a just punishment) the way any conflict, even a peaceful one, could be described in terms of war - i. e. projecting one set of meanings upon another one in order to achieve additional effects29. These effects include: emphasizing the speedy fashion, in which the Punishment has come to pass, that what happened was in fact a Punishment, not just a misfortune, that the author actually approves it as the term QISAS is a positive one and to ascribe it to an event means to assign it positive evaluation. Finally, by using such a big word for petty criminals he even probably meant to add a bit of irony to his comment. Yet, the authoritative Islamic discourse has set the KILLING firmly in the position of a prototype among the family of Trigger events and, by force of the idea of qualitative equivalence, the death penalty as the typical manifestation of QISAS30. The idea that QISAS is typically associated with death and capital punishment is so much part of common knowledge in the language community that speakers may even use it in the given part of the statement, Cf.: wa lafat ila anna madbahat bur sa`id la yu`lam tahdidan hatta al-an man basar al-qatl fiha fa-mim-man yuqtass minhu, musaddidan `ala anna al-qisas la budda wa an yufa- wwad li-l-qada' wa li-wali al-amr wa wifqa al-adilla li-anna al-qisas bihi izhaq ruh31 And he turned [attention] to the Port Said slaughter, [which] [it] is not known untill now who has initiated the killing there and who [should] be retaliated against, underscoring that QISAS should be delegated to the judiciary and wall al-amr (Islamic generic name for the ruler. - A. B.) and according to the evidence because QISAS is related to (lit. in it) putting to death (lit. destroying soul).

2. Underlying structure: frame elements

The concept of QISAS may be represented explicitly by several nominations, including verbal and nominal derivatives of the root q-s-s, idiomatic expressions or implicitly - through common phrases referring to key ideas associated with the concept such as the ones we discussed above32. The verb iqtassa (retaliate) as the key verbal nomination provides a clue to the analysis of the basic frame structure underlying QISAS - the set of semantic roles referring to actors, who may be involved in the situation described by the frame. Core elements of the frame include the Agent, who we propose to designate by a lexical tag Retaliator, in line with the FrameNet approach; the Retaliator performs Retaliation against the Offender as a consequence of an earlier action by the Offender, which typically involves bodily harm (Killing or Injury), which we shall tag as Injury; a party that sustained an Injury we shall designate as an Injured_party. Similar to the

Revenge frame on the FrameNet, Retaliator needs not be the same as the Injured_party. While the Revenge frame description on FrameNet includes a statement that `the judgment that the Offender had inflicted an Injury is made without regard to the law'33, for QISAS we should formulate it differently: `the fact that an Injury was caused by the Offender to the Injured_party is presupposed'. The frame is in fact constructed on the basis of a presupposed frame that could be tagged Violent Crime and inherits its core elements from it (Offender, Injured_party). It may even be described as an operation on this presupposed frame, which involves broadening the perspective on the situation referred to by the presupposed frame by including additional elements and modifying/reversing the relations between the core elements. While the Revenge as described on FrameNet appears to be an action performed by Avenger for the sake of his/her/their own satisfaction, QISAS is conceptualized as an act of justice performed for the sake of a greater social benefit34. It is not surprising, therefore, that the set of core frame elements of QISAS includes one more party, which we tag as Beneficiary. Typically, and this is the single option that exists in the Islamic normative discourse, the Beneficiary is represented by the Injured_party's next of kin or wall ad-dam (executor35), but in the lay discourses it may also be any concerned individual or collectivity. In the discourse of the Egyptian revolution it is either ahali as-suhada' (relatives of the martyrs in a very broad sense) or very often just as-sa`b (the people, meaning the entire Egyptian nation), cf.:

an-niyaba tatlub min allah an yaqtassa li-s-sa`b min muttahami madinat nasr36 The Prosecutor's office demands from Allah to retaliate for the people against the accused of Nast City.

Description of Revenge on FrameNet includes Punishment among its core elements, which may be illustrated by the following example: “The team took REVENGE with a resounding victory'". “Resounding victory” here is Punishment37. QISAS has a similar frame element, cf.:

al-jays yaqtass li-dabh al-misriyin fi libiya bi-darbajawwiyya `ala mu`askar da`is38 The Army retaliates for the slaughter of the Egyptians in Libya by an air strike on an ISIS camp.

In the discourse of the Egyptian revolution, however, this frame element is often left unexpressed explicitly. The idea of qualitative equivalence between the Injury and Punishment embedded into the concept implies that, if one knows the nature of the offense, which constitutes the Trigger event for QISAS, one knows the nature of retaliation. But in a specific context Punishment may even become a focus of discussion with QISAS as its key theme. This context involves a change of perspective on the referent situation. In contrast to the verbal nominations, the noun qisas allows entering an observer's perspective on a particular situation. Observer may not be describing the situation in terms of QISAS, but judging on whether it will be possible to describe it this way. In the example below the concept was used to evaluate a situation for correspondence to the perceived norms of a proper retaliation resulting in a negative judgment:

lam tamurr siwa sa`at `ala al-hukm hatta harajat masira fi al-qahira wa talatha ba`d yawm wahid muzahara fi al-iskandariya tunaddid bi-tahawun wa tutalib bi-qisas `adil yusaddid `uqubat surtiyeyn qatala muwatinan duna danb39

[a few] hours had not passed since the verdict until a procession came out in Cairo and a demonstration followed it a day after in Alexandria denouncing complacency and demanding a just QISAS [that would] strengthen punishment for the two policemen [who] killed an innocent (lit. without guilt) citizen.

A concerned observer (participants of the demonstration), having evaluated the situation by comparing it with what it believes to be a norm, found the Punishment to be not strong enough for the situation to be described as a proper (just) QISAS. As a normative concept QISAS, hence, has a double function: it may be used in direct reference to a particular situation (i. e. describe it) and also as a standard of evaluation, providing a basis for judgment as to whether or not a perceived norm has being observed in a particular situation. It is mainly in the latter function that QISAS appears in the discourse of the Egyptian revolution, and the presupposed judgment is invariably negative, providing the revolutionaries with what appears to be a strong argument in challenging the powers that be. It is worth mentioning here that the frequency of the noun qisas in the Egyptian media discourse of the revolutionary period exceeds the verbal forms: the Google search has returned 116,000 results for the noun and 93,516 for various verbal forms combined at the time of writing. discourse genre political cognitive

The grammar of the verbal phrases deserves a special note. In a phrase, the verb iqtassa functions as follows: al-qada'iqtassa li-dima'ibni40 (the court has retaliated for the blood-pl. of my son); wa talab min allah an yaqtassa li2-s-sa`b musliman wa masihiyan min ha'ula ' al-mujrimm41 (and he asked Allah to retaliate for the people [both] Muslims and Christians against those criminals). The preposition li- may serve multiple functions: in our examples li1 expresses the idea of exchange (similar to for in the English phrase pay for it) and li2 expresses Dative (similar to the English preposition to in the phrase give it to him). The ambiguity is often eliminated by inserting the word dam (blood sing.) or dima' (blood pl.) after li1 which makes it clear that the noun after the preposition does not refer to a living person, it is not merely a grammatical device but semantic too - it reifies the Injured_party. The preposition li1 may also be used to enter the names of the Injury (as in the example on p. 94 above). The two prepositions li1 and li2 are used respectively to introduce Injured_party /Injury and Beneficiary. The preposition min (from) introduces Offender. The underlying scheme that the set of the three prepositions appears to reveal is that of a transfer/exchange - something is taken from one party (Offender) in exchange of a Theme (reified Injury/Injured_party) and transferred to Beneficiary. The initial part of the transaction is reflected in idiomatic expressions often used in lieu of the derivatives of q-s-s, such as ahd dam ad-dahaya (taking of the victims' blood) and ahd al-haqq min Offender (taking the right, i. e. a rightful property, from Offender), and, finally, the tautological ahd al-QISAS (taking of QISAS). The idiom (1) points to BLOOD as a token that often stands for the Theme of transfer42. The Offender unlawfully takes the Blood of the Injured_party and the Retaliator returns it to the Beneficiary, who is its rightful owner, thus completing the circle and achieving Justice. The idiomatic expressions with the verb ahad (take) reflect the Beneficiary perspective on QISAS.

The two key transformations of the predicate iqtass foreground different core frame elements. The active form, which we have extensively illustrated above, foregrounds the Injured_party and the Beneficiary. The impersonal passive form, used mostly in Imperfect, foregrounds the Offender, cf.:

(a) wa alladi ya`tadi `ala gayrihi bi-darb yuqtass minhu bi-darb43

and [the one] who assaults another one with beating is retaliated against (lit. [it] is retaliated against him) with beating

(b) irhabiyu da`is bugat wa hawarij wa la budd an yuqtass minhum44

The terrorists of ISIS [are] oppressors and Kharijites and it is necessary to retaliate against them (lit. for [it] to be retaliated against them).

Pragmatically, the use of impersonal passive form is characteristic of prescriptive utterances and discourses such as the Islamic normative discourse. The use of Active and Passive voice forms for foregrounding different semantic roles is of course a standard device across languages, but there seem to be also other more subtle means used for that purpose in our case. Two adjectives that most frequently appear in collocation with the noun qisas - `adil (just) and sari` (speedy) appear to help profile two different elements of the concept - qualitative equivalence between Injury and Punishment in the former case and the foregrounding of the Beneficiary in the latter45.

3. Portmanteau concepts

In discourse, the basic frame underlying QISAS may interfere with frames underlying other concepts and create a complex semantic structure with the same scope of reference. Other frames that are often used as an extension to QISAS in political discourse include TADHIYA/FIDA' (SACRIFICE, REDEMPTION) and SAHADA (MARTYRDOM). These frames contain elements, which may be co-referential with frame elements of QISAS, as they describe a situation, involving a violent death, which is a prototypical Trigger event presupposed by the frame of QISAS. Frames are blended through matching elements Martyr to Injured_party, Beneficiary (every Martyr also has some Next-of-kin) and Blood (as a Theme of exchange in the underlying structure of both frames46). The difference between the standard presupposed Trigger situation of QISAS (KILLING/INJURY) and MARTYRDOM is that unlike Injured_party in QISAS, Martyr does not endure his death passively but dies for a Cause and causes presuppose a Purpose, and if this Purpose has not yet being reached even after his death Martyr may still be assigned an active role, which is reflected in idioms such as the blood of Martyrs calls for (...), the souls of Martyrs won't be at rest until (...), cf.: ayna al-`adala al-ijtima`iya allati nadat biha ad-dima ' at-tahira allati salat bi-l-mayadin ya rayis41 (where is the social justice that the pure blood spilled in the squares called for, Mr. President?). The Cause that the Martyrs struggled for may blend with Retaliation itself as a common cause of the revolutionaries dead and alive alike, making the frames go cyclic, cf.: al-masriunayuriduna anyaraw qisasan sari`anyurih arwah as-suhada'48 (the Egyptians want to see a speedy QISAS [which] would put at rest/appease the souls of martyrs). In contrast to the latter lay usage, the Islamic normative discourse appears to be more materialistic as it never assigns victims of violent crime any active role in QISAS. The Islamic apology of QISAS is based on the analysis of social and individual interests and psychological conditions of those living, not the souls of the dead. Compare a lay usage, which although featuring the term sahid (martyr), remains faithful to the standard Islamic interpretation: al-qisas al-`ajilya`ni haqq ahali as-suhada'49 (the speedy QISAS is a right of the family of the martyrs).

The blending (contamination) of TADHIYA/FIDA' and SAHADA with QISAS, hence, foregrounds the Injured_party element of the frame and assigns it an active role. In the discourse of revolution QISAS mostly occurs in such blended (contaminated) form with Injured_party most often represented as Sahld/Suhada' (Martyr/Martyrs)50.

TADHIYA/FIDA' describes a situation where someone or his/her Next-of-kin (prototypically a Parent) is willingly sacrificing his/her life for a cause (one's country, religious sanctities etc.), the situation may be described from either the perspective of a person who is giving up his/her life or a Parent. When such act happens, the Parent receives or feels a moral reward, cf.: wa as`ar bi-`tizaz sadidli-annani qaddamtu ahadabna'ifida'an li-l-muqaddasat al-islamiya51 (and I feel a strong pride for I have offered one of my sons as a redeem for the Islamic sanctities); annahu ... musta`idd li-t-tadhiya bi-nafsihi wa abna'ihi al-ahada `asara min ajlfilastin wa al-muqaddasat al-islamiya52 (he... [is] ready to sacrifice himself and his eleven sons... for Palestine and Islamic sanctities). While the notion of TADHIYA may cover situations other than those when the agent of TADHIYA dies, the latter appears to be the prototypical case, cf.:

wa qal ad-duktur sayf qazamil `amid kulliyat as-sari`a inna at-tadhiya ft sabil al-watan

tatanawwa` min at-tadhiya bi-l-mal wa an-nafs wa al-waqt wa al-`amal al-jadd hatta

tatahaqqaq rif at al-watan fi kull al-mayadin wa tatahaqqaq at-tadhiya bi-a`la ma`aniha bi-d-difa` `an il-watan bi-n-nafs allatl harram allah qatlaha illa bi-l-haqq53 And Dr. Sayf Qazamil, deen of the Faculty of Sharia, said that sacrifice in the way of homeland differs from sacrifice with property (material values) and self (soul) and time and serious work until the elevation of homeland is accomplished in all fields and sacrifice is accomplished in its highest meanings through the defense of homeland with self (soul - i. e. by giving up one's life), the killing of which Allah has prohibited except with right (i. e. for a righteous cause).

SAHADA (martyrdom) is a status that one receives, when one dies for a noble cause (prototypically a religious one, the most general idiomatic expression for which is fi sabili-llah - `on Allah's way'), cf. fa-qadkanayatamanna anyustashadfirubu` al-aqsa fa-nala as-sahada min ajlihi54 (and he wished to be martyred/die as a martyr in the area of al-Aqsa and obtained martyrdom for the sake of it). It is believed that the status is given by God: as'al allah an yataqabbalahu sahidan ([parent's word] I ask Allah to receive him as a martyr), which is reflected in the Passive voice form ustushid, which literally means `to be called as witness/martyr' with God as an implied agent in Standard Arabic, while the active form istashad means `to call as witness'55.

BLOOD is a metonymical lifeline, most important element shared by relatives - particularly the fathers and sons. Through BLOOD they may be presented as a single social persona, cf.:

inna istishadahu haffaf `anni hawl ma yahdut fi al-aradi al-muqaddasa, wa ad`u allaha an yaj`alahu fi maqam as-suhada', fa-ida lam astati` ad-dahab li-l-musaraka fa-dami hunak, dam ibni lan yadhab hadaran56

His martyrdom has tempered for me the horror of what is happening in the holy lands and I call Allah to make him in the position of martyrs and if I would not be able to go to participate [in the fight for holy lands] then my blood is there, blood of my son will not be spilled in vain.

It is important that BLOOD in not spilled in vain (hadaran) - a belief which features both in the context of discourses informed by (1) TaDHIyA/FIDA' (SACRIFICE, REDEMPTION) and SAHADA (MARTYRDOM) and (2) QISAS. It is a major concern for the Next-of-kin and the community at large that Blood of a Sahld (Martyr) or an innocent Injured_party is not spilled in vain, which means two things: in the context of group (1) frames - it has to be redeemed (i. e. a noble cause, for which the blood was spilled, has to be completed). Meanwhile, in the context of QISAS - Blood has to be taken back again in order for it not to be considered spilled in vain. The notion of spending in vain comes from the realm of commerce, cf. the following common expression: dahaba maluhu hadaran (his money was wasted); hadar ad-darahima (squander the money), which points to the metaphoric structure underlying the whole set of frames as analyzed above. All actors in these frames are bound by a transaction based on common moral economy principle, which requires that all losses should be compensated to the benefit of all interested parties: SAHADA is given for NAFS, QISAS is a compensation for the loss of loved ones, (clear, forbidden) Blood of the Injured_party should be returned to its family (awliya ' ad-dam) by way of taking the Blood of the Offender, which is not forbidden (ma`sum) and, hence, may be spilled in vain, as murderer's Blood is considered wasteful (mahdur), i. e. not calling for further retaliation.

The blending of QISAS with TADHIYA/FIDA' and SAHADA achieved due to the coherence of these concepts enriches greatly the meaning of the QISAS-centered discourse, and what is most important in the context of the revolutionary discourse, elevates QISAS to a theme of greater public significance - in Islamic normative discourse for all social significance attributed to QISAS it is still presented as a matter between three individual entities - Retaliator, Beneficiary and the Injured_party.


There appears to be a hierarchy of semantic structures that constitute a concept: (1) frame elements that form the underlying structure of the concept, (2) associated ideas (such as the qualitative equivalence of Punishment and Injury or an eye for an eye principle, speediness of QISAS). Parts of the concept may be expressed explicitly or implicitly, some may be foregrounded others downplayed, associated ideas, which in some contexts appear to be essential may be suppressed in others. Concept varies across discourses, but variants of the concept continue to maintain family resemblance with a prototype, which in the case of QISAS is best represented in the Islamic normative discourse. In different discourses concepts function differently by adopting a certain persistent pattern, which is characterized by a specific choice of foregrounded elements, associated ideas that are profiled or suppressed etc. A key defining characteristic, even perhaps organizational principle guiding such choices is the perspective. Discourses and genres privilege a specific perspective, which influences other choices in respect to various aspects of the concept, including profiling some associated ideas and suppressing others, foregrounding or downplaying frame elements. Lyric song, for instance, privileges participant perspective, news report - disengaged observer's one, and the political discourse - that of engaged (empathic) observer. In discourse concepts may operate not alone, but in a stable combination with other concept(s), which have to be coherent with them, meaning that some of their frame elements (semantic roles) have to be coreferential with the leading concept's frame elements, associated and presupposed ideas should also overlap57. The projection of one frame upon another serves a cognitive function as it helps create additional effects, including pragmatic ones, expand and elaborate the meaning.


1 Cf. Charles J. Fillmore. Frames and the semantics of understanding // Quaderni di semantica. Vol. VI, no. 2, December 1985, pp. 222-254.

2 Retaliation, which we use here as a working equivalent for qisas, as well as retribution, which often occurs as a match for qisas in English translations, are also registered as a lexical entries under Revenge frame on FrameNet.

3 We borrowed these terms from the FrameNet description of the Revenge frame as presented on the current version of the FrameNet.

4 For details see: A. Bogomolov. If you want to be just you better be quick: perceptions of a just retaliation in the discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Skhidnyi Svit (The World of the Orient), № 1, 2015, pp. 53-64.

5 Cf., particularly, Alexander Bogomolov. Constructing Political Other in the Discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Scripta Neophilologica Posnaniensia. Tom XIV, 2014, p. 29.

6 Cf. George Lakoff, Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press, 2003, p. 96.

7 The fact that the belief that RETALIATION should be performed in a speedy fashion is not universally share by all human cultures is attested at least by a popular European idiom revenge is a dish best served when it's cold.

8 Description of KILLING as provided on the FrameNet, although based on English language material, seems to be quite universal, and for the sake of saving space we assume it as given for the purposes of this study; FrameNet has no entry for acts that fall under the category of INJURY, but these appear to share the two essential core elements with KILLING - i. e. Offender (Killer), Victim, the Victim of course would have a different description instead of `the living entity that dies'.

9 For more details on the semantic variability of the concept in lay and Islamic normative discourse see: A. Bogomolov. The Concept of QISAS (RETALIATION) in the Islamic and Lay Political Discourses in the Context of the Egyptian Arab Spring // The Oriental Studies, 2014, № 68, pp. 3-20.

10 Al-Munjid fi al-Luga wa al-A`lam. 33rd edition. Dar al-Masriq. Bayrnt, 1992, p. 631.

11 Cf. A. Bogomolov. If you want to be just you better be quick: perceptions of a just retaliation in the discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Skhidnyi Svit (The World of the Orient), № 1, 2015, p. 56.

12 - particularly given the fact that the definition of Trigger may be stretched far beyond the KILLING/INJURY frame as we shall see below.

13 Meaning the Eleanor Rosch's definition of prototype as in Rosch Heider - 1973 - E. Rosch Heider. Natural Categories // Cognitive Psychology, № 4, 1973.

14 The 1st of these examples may be perhaps described as a hardly a case for QISAS at all, while the 2nd one as almost not a case for QISAS.

15 The normative Islamic discourse commonly sees the wisdom (hikma - meaning purpose or rather God's design) of QISAS in its capacity to heal moral pains of the victim and take off the metaphorical heat (cf. for instance the following description at-tasaffi wa bard hararat al-gayz - `the healing and cooling of the heat of wrath' - in Salih bin Fawzan bin `Abdullah al-Fawzan. al- Mulahhas al-Fiqhi. Dar al-`Asima. ar-Riyad. 1423 h., part 2, p. 476.

16 Cf. A. Bogomolov. If you want to be just you better be quick: perceptions of a just retaliation in the discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Skhidnyi Svit (The World of the Orient), № 1, 2015, pp. 53-64; Bread, Dignity, Justice and... Retaliation: the concept of QISAS and the values of the Egyptian revolution // Skhdoznavstvo, № 67, 2014, pp. 20-38; A. Bogomolov. The Concept of QISAS (RETALIATION) in the Islamic and Lay Political Discourses in the Context of the Egyptian Arab Spring // The Oriental Studies, 2014, № 68, pp. 3-20.

17 Cf. A. Bogomolov. If you want to be just you better be quick: perceptions of a just retaliation in the discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Skhidnyi Svit (The World of the Orient), № 1, 2015, pp. 53-64.

18 A. Bogomolov. The Concept of QISAS (RETALIATION) in the Islamic and Lay Political Discourses in the Context of the Egyptian Arab Spring // The Oriental Studies, 2014, № 68, pp. 3-20.

19 The saying is often described as an English proverb, while its origins traced to French literary sources, whatever the origin it appears to have stricken a cord with all European cultures.

20 The difference between the two views of Revenge - the European and the Arab one - could perhaps be explained by this very difference in perspective - the European cultures tend to see Revenge as a private matter, hence, the tendency, even when discussing it in the 3rd person, to assume a Victim's viewpoint, while for the Arab culture it is primarily a social matter; once the concept enters the context of the one type of discourse in Arabic that strongly privileges the individual perspective - the popular lyric song - the cross-cultural difference becomes neutralized_.

21 The news article then goes on to describe the police interference in the case.

22 George Lakoff, Mark Johnson. Metaphors we live by. London: The University of Chicago press, 2003.

23 The term prototype is used in the Eleonore Rosch sense (E. Eosch. Principles of categorization, In E. Rosch & B. B. Lloyd (Eds.), Cognition and categorization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1978); texts referring to violent crimes other than killing (duna al-qatl in Sharia terminology) and appropriate types of retaliation are limited mainly to the Islamic legal discussion and sporadic quotations of such discourse in the lay texts.

24 Cf. particularly Example (1) in Section 2 above.

25 This is in fact a sort of meta-statement that may be compared to ideas of qualitative equivalence, speediness/promptness, moral imperativeness, which we discussed above.

26 For the discussion of the public benefits of QISAS in the Islamic normative discourse and what remains of it in lay discourses see: A. Bogomolov. The Concept of QISAS (RETALIATION) in the Islamic and Lay Political Discourses in the Context of the Egyptian Arab Spring // The Oriental Studies, 2014, № 68, pp. 3-20.

27 I. e. next of kin entitled (musthaqq) to the blood of the Offender in retaliation - Islamic law has specific provisions as regards who this person may and may not be.

28 For more on BLOOD as a metonymical substitution for the concepts of LIFE and KINSHIP see: A. Bogomolov. The Concept of QISAS (RETALIATION) in the Islamic and Lay Political Discourses in the Context of the Egyptian Arab Spring // The Oriental Studies, 2014, № 68, pp. 3-20.

29 For illustrations see: Bread, Dignity, Justice and... Retaliation: the concept of QISAS and the values of the Egyptian revolution // Skhdoznavstvo, № 67, 2014, pp. 20-38 and A. Bogomolov. If you want to be just you better be quick: perceptions of a just retaliation in the discourse of the Egyptian Arab Spring // Skhidnyi Svit (The World of the Orient), № 1, 2015, pp. 53-64.

30 Blood of Martys is spilled not in vain but for a Purpose in the Martyrdom frame.

31 In fact the use of the word sahld in the context of QISAS is a clear marker of political discourse; should a different.term (e. g. mujm `alayh - `victim, injured party) be used instead, the utterance containing QISAS as its key term, will have to be attributed to a different type of discourse or genre (e. g. police report, news item on crime, Islamic legal discussion etc.).

32 It is normative for the Agent in this phrase to be never mentioned explicitly - i. e. phrase *ustushida min (qibal) allah (was called as martyr by Allah) would sound incorrect; spoken varieties of Arabic, however, use the active form in both senses (call as witness, become a martyr) reflecting a meaning shift - in vernacular istashad simply means `die as martyr, become a martyr'; in modern Arabic usage, including strictly secular, anyone who died for a cause, not necessarily religious one, would be called sahld, which in translation functions as a better match for the English word hero than batl (`hero', according to most bilingual dictionaries), which is mainly used in reference to living heroes.

33 For instance, violent death of a key protagonist is part of the presupposition for QISAS and an essential element of SAHADA/MARtYrDOM frame.

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