Orientalism has probably never been seen as an ideology by most scholars. But since E. Said (Orientalism, 1979) defined it as a system of thought dominating the Western perception of the East, the ideological character of Orientalism is becoming increasingly clear. The present study intends to demask the language used in Gulf War news coverage as Orientalist. The U.S. being the leader of the international anti-Iraq coalition, the data material is taken exclusively from U.S. sources, i.e. TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines, covering the period preceding and following the war (July 90-March 91).
The "Idealized Cognitive Model" of Orientalism is characterized, on the one hand, by the view of Christianity (and Judaism) and Islam as antagonistic or competitive cultural-religious systems, and on the other hand, by the neo-colonial approach of the West toward the Middle East in an attempt to preserve vital national interests. The link between the ICM and the many conceptual metaphors is made by means of what P. Morgan, using a term introduced by E. Goffman, calls "frames" i.e. organizational premises (or scripts) in the mind that structure our activities or behaviour. The main function of the Orientalist frames is to maintain the asymmetry in the power relationship between the West and the Orient as well as the seemingly unavoidable incompatibility of the respective cultures and civilizations. As a theoretical and structural framework, Orientalism depends on two interdependent image frames, i.e. "frames of Self-presentation" by the West vs. "frames of Other-representation", i.e. the West's view of the East. Each frame is structured by conceptual metaphors as well as by other "linguistic mechanisms" that are rooted in an almost unchallenged belief in the superiority of Western culture and civilization over Oriental cultures and civilizations.
Some of the frames and subframes used in the metaphorical warfare in the Persian Gulf were already presented at the Amsterdam ICLA conference, but now the ideological background and the link between this level, the level of frames and that of conceptual metaphors has been given a firm conceptual basis. Also a much more complete picture of Orientalist frames is presented. Among the most prominent contrasting frames are "Civilization vs. Barbarism", "Power vs. Weakness", "Maturity vs. Immaturity", "Rationality vs. Irrationality" and "Stability vs. Instability". Many of these frames include subframes that are coherently related to the major frames, e.g. "Standard vs. Deviation", "Allies vs. Kin", "Honesty vs. Deception", "Heroism vs. Cowardice", "Science vs. Religion", "Duty vs. Ambition", "Winner vs. Loser", "Flexibility vs. Inflexibility".
Amongst the commitments of Cognitive
Linguistics then is also a moral or political commitment. The
present paper follows this line. By exploring the role of Orientalism
as a culture-dependent system of thought in conceptualizing the
political reality in the Middle East in terms of imagery rooted
in the Orient's colonial past, the aim is to show that the contemporary
Euro-American approach to the Islamic Orient is still largely
based on the notion of cultural and ideological superiority.
Key words: Orientalism, East-West, frames of Self-presentation, frames of Other-representation, new world order, neo-colonialism.