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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 6: Verbal and visual interaction between advertising images and readers


Given that “Culture is communication and communication is culture” (Hall 1959: 105), both verbal and visual aspects of interactions in advertising discourse must be taken into consideration. The research in Chapter 5 has confirmed that even product placement within the advertising frame introduces various cultural values and plays a crucial role in the act of communicating. In this regard, product image, just like other images within an advertisement, represents the copywriter (speaker/sender) and plays an active part in communication. In this sense, it is vital to investigate the relations between all advertising images: (i) the way they interact, namely, directly vs. indirectly, (ii) the way they address others in the communication act, (iii) how they perceive themselves, i.e. as individuals or as members of a group.

6.1. Reader-writer interaction

Sales advertising can be perceived in terms of interaction – in general, the verbal and non-verbal act of ‘making contact’ between at least two people (Sztompka 2005: 39, 113). In advertising discourse, its participants are placed in a conceptual situation that influences their reactions. In this regard, an advertising message is understood as a form of communication between creator (writer) and receiver (reader). Meanwhile, the process of interaction is connected with cognition, influenced by cultural perception, in a specific cultural context. Such interaction is considered to be in the range of visual and verbal languages, thus it can be discussed through the prism of semiotics and linguistics (Koll-Stobble 1995). In this respect, Tomasello (2003) states that:...

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