First Advisor

John Hellermann

Term of Graduation

January 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type





anti-Asian hate, Asian American, Asian hate, Critical Analysis, Linguistics, racism

Physical Description

1 online resource ( pages)


Since 2019, the United States has had an increase in violence against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities along with an increase of mainstream anti-Asian racist rhetoric. Between 2021 and 2022, The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism reported an overall 164% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes (Report to the Nation, 2021). While racism against black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities has been the topic of an ever-growing body of critical discourse, prior to 2019 few publications had addressed racism and injustice regarding language choices and discourse in the context of anti-Asian rhetoric in the US, specifically regarding the intersection of language and anti-Asian sentiment (Chun & Zalokar, 1992; Palumbo-Liu, 2001). The recent increase in violence against Asian Americans has coincided with the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic and is grounded in the longstanding history of associating Asian immigrants with “disease and filth” (Li & Nicholson, 2020, p. 4), a discourse historically perpetuated in the US press (Li & Nicholson, 2020).Given the context of increased anti-Asian hate crimes, historically rooted anti-Asian racism and the lack of previous research I found the need to conduct this three-part study that used news article data from the Corona Virus Corpus to analyze metaphor, Theme and Rheme, and transitivity in modern anti-Asian discourse. The first part of this study analyzed metaphors at the intersection of COVID-19 and racism and the role of metaphor in anti-Asian rhetoric. In the second part of this study, I created a sub corpus of 100 news articles written about the March 16, 2021 murder of six Asian women in Atlanta, GA (Davies). I examined articles for Theme and Rheme to determine how corporate news media emphasized specific information regarding the shooting. Then I used a transitivity analysis to identify how corporate news media framed the racialized victims vs. the alleged killer through the use of marked lexical and thematic choices. This analysis helped uncover the intersection between metaphor and anti-Asian hate as well as how marked grammatical choices such as nominalization and passivation helped obfuscate the agency of the perpetrator and dehumanize the victims of the March 16 shooting. The study explores 1) how historically, news media has been the main medium of disseminating racism against Asians in the American context, and 2) the importance for linguists to continually investigate historicized racism in corporate media.


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Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2025