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The Frame Semantics of KILL: The Identity, gender, and ethnicity of fatal attributions in British and American news press


  • Leila Chaar

Summary, in Swedish

The aim with this study was to investigate the senses of the lexemes /assassinated/, /killed/, and /murdered/ in 21st century American and British newspaper discourse, which was done with the method of corpus-driven Cognitive Linguistics. The main research questions dealt with how the combination of grammatical and contextual features of the articles frame patients and agents of the verbs. A focus was given to transitive and intransitive actions on the grammatical level, as well as contextual information provided about the topics of discourse, and participants of the events. This was done in order to find out what these reveal about the polysemic structures of the words, and how they are associated culturally.
The results were conducted with the means of two statistical models in R: Multiple Correspondence Analysis, and Logistic Regression. It was concluded that the lexemes researched reflect some contemporary aspects of the semantic senses of the words concerning different framings of agent and patient participants, depending on the contextual information provided. The word /killed/ is mainly used in a war discourse of opposing sides in a conflict, where relatively vague, and therefore less identifiable patient reference is used when it comes to gender and family attributes. The bias is instead marked through explicit protagonist and antagonist markers of the sides. This is contrasted with specific patient framings for the word /murdered/, which is used for domestic reference with an overrepresentation of the female gender and other familial affiliations of women and children, creating a stronger sense of identification with these. In comparison, the word /assassinated/ is mostly used in historical, political and entertaining contexts for patients of male reference denoting politicians, who are primarily from foreign nationalities.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Frame Semantics
  • Lexical Semantics
  • KILL
  • Polysemy
  • Newspaper Discourse
  • Corpus-Driven Cognitive Linguistics


  • Dylan Glynn