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Textuality and Contextuality

Cross-Cultural Advertising from the Perspective of High- vs. Low-Context Cultures in Europe


Aneta Smolińska

This study offers a contrastive analysis of culturally grounded differences in discourse by comparing advertising strategies in three European languages: (British) English, French and Polish. Taking a critical stance and considering changes through globalisation, the author aims to find out to what extent the classic distinction between high-context (individualist) and low-context (collectivist) cultures can be empirically maintained. To paint a differentiated picture, the investigation combines findings from Sociology, Anthropological and Discourse Linguistics and uses both quantitative and qualitative methods. The data reveal ground-breaking differences in the use of foreign languages, the relation between text and images and the interaction between advertising images and readers.

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Chapter 4: Interpreting text-image(s) relations


Knowing that the employment of foreign languages in advertising discourse, as confirmed by the analyses in Chapter 3, can be used for both communication and identification reasons (House 2003; Kelly-Holmes 2005), the issue of the role of visual and verbal language comes into view. In this regard, its employment as a ‘language for communication’ shows that a foreign language is a group of signs, whereas the concept of ‘language for identification’ reveals foreign language to be a sign in itself (Williamson 1992). Such phenomena refer to the idea of text-image(s) relation, since both functions of a language are important for understanding the communicative act better.

In a fast moving world it is important to decide on the quickest way of communication which can be written, spoken or even signalled. It generally serves the purpose of distributing a collection of information, knowledge from which certain conclusions can be drawn. Hence, Carey (1989: 84, as cited in Carey 2008: xiii) states that communication “[…] is a form of action – or better interaction – [which] not merely represents or describes but actually models or constitutes the world”. Furthermore, he (2008: xiii) refers to communication as a process of making, knowing, judging and uttering.

Additionally, Schirato and Yell (2000: x) define communication as “[…] the practice of producing and negotiating meanings, a practice which always takes place under specific social, cultural and political conditions”. Therefore, communication can be seen as the practice of creating meanings and the ways in which...

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