Code-switching as a persuasive device in South African advertising

Cowley, Jennali (2016-03)

Theisis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Advertising is characterised by a particular type of language and language use which is structured to fulfil a particular purpose. The primary function of advertising language is to persuade consumers to purchase the advertised products or services (Morris 2005; Piller 2003; Fuertes-Olivera,Velasco-Sacristán, Arribas-Bano & Samaniego-Fernández 2001). In South Africa, a multilingual context, there are many instances where advertisers employ two or more languages in one advertisement. Prior research on code-switching in text advertisements has revealed that the context and the direction of the code-switched elements influence the way in which participants interpret the advertisement, and whether they have a positive or negative association with the brand (Bishop & Petersen 2010; Luna & Peracchio 2005). However, in these studies, the advertising text was isolated from the visual elements of the advertisement and analysed as an independent variable. Further, the researchers only investigated the perceptions participants had of the advertisements where they speak the languages featured in the text, but not those of other audiences with different language repertoires who might encounter the advertisement in real-world, multilingual contexts. This thesis presents the results of a study that was designed to investigate perceptions an actual audience has of Afrikaans-English code-switched advertisements amongst a group of diverse students at Stellenbosch University. Subsequent to a viewing of five print advertisements, an in-depth questionnaire was distributed to 99 participants in order to determine (1) the persuasive nature of Afrikaans-English code-switching, and (2) whether or not, in research which ultimately aims to uncover the persuasive features of advertisements, the advertising text can be studied in isolation from the visual elements. The findings reveal that while the two different groups of participants had similar perceptions of the advertisements and products, they all had fairly neutral and also negative perceptions of code-switching. This has implications for understandings and uses of code-switching in advertising, and the effects that it may have on consumers in multilingual contexts.

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