Academic journal article International journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest

?Ingles Sin Barreras?: A Multimodal Analysis of Ideology and Power

Academic journal article International journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest

?Ingles Sin Barreras?: A Multimodal Analysis of Ideology and Power

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION. There has recently been a 'turn to the multimodal' (Jewitt 2009) characterized by an increased interest in the ways in which modes other than text, for example image and color, create meaning. While studies in multimodality have become increasingly common since the turn of the twenty-first century, only one has analyzed Spanish-language texts from a social semiotic perspective (Strom 2013a). For this reason, there is a very limited understanding of how multiple modes function within a single Spanish-language text.

Spanish-language media have an undeniable impact on Latin@ immigrants in the United States. The literature demonstrates that these media contribute to a sense of community (Carreira 2002; Molina Guzman 2006; Okamato et al. 2011; Rodriguez 1999; Vargas 2009), keep readers abreast of events in their home countries (Gutierrez 1977; Strom 2013b; Veciana-Suarez 1987), teach readers sociocultural information about the United States (Gutierrez 1977; Strom 2013b), help mitigate Spanish loss (Cashman 2009; Potowski 2004), constitute a vital source of health information (Vargas & dePyssler 1999), and inscribe a United States Latin@ community (Strom 2013a; Suro 2004). Suro (2004:2) states these media have 'a significant influence in the formation of Hispanic identities,' although it is not clear exactly what the effect of this influence is. Thus, Spanish-language media constitute a place for shaping the linguistic and social identities of consumers. This is not surprising, given the ability for the media to shape ideas concerning ideologies and power structures (Fairclough 1995, 2001; van Dijk 1988a, 1988b, 1989, 1991a, 1991b). What remains largely unknown is how multimodal texts in Spanish represent the ideologies that ultimately shape the ways in which the Latin@ audience represents itself. In light of this situation, the current study critically analyzes the ways in which a Spanish-language commercial aired in the United States for Ingles Sin Barreras 'English Without Barriers' represents ideology and power in a way that negatively shapes the identity of Latin@ immigrants in the United States.


2.1. CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES. Critical discourse studies is not interested in analysis for the sake of analysis; rather, it is interested in analysis for the sake of social change: 'The critical objective [of this approach] is not only to identify and analyze the roots of social problems, but also to discern feasible ways of alleviating or resolving them,' (Fairclough et al. 2004:1). The goal of this study is to shed light on the negative representations of Latin@ immigrants in the Spanish-language media, and in this way make clear that such representations are detrimental to the community because they reinforce the negative ideologies found in the mainstream press (Davila 2001; Hill 1998; Santa Ana 2009, 2010).

Of the six of most prominent approaches in critical discourse studies (Wodak & Meyer 2009:18-32), Norman Fairclough's (1992, 2001) dialectical-relational approach most closely relates to the research goals of analyzing power and ideology in Spanish-language media. This approach holds that 'social structures not only determine social practice, they are also a product of social practice... social structures not only determine discourse, they are also a product of discourse,' (Fairclough 2001:31). For this reason, one can study social constructs, such as ideology and power, through language. Moreover, one can conclude that the ideologies and power structures present in discourse influence social structures, just as social structures influence discourse.

Several studies have followed the critical discourse analytic framework to address power and ideology in Spanish-language media in the United States (Delbene 2008; Strom 2013a, b, 2015b; Ullman 2010a, 2012a, b; Yanez & Contreras 2012). Those that have analyzed Ingles Sin Barreras are outlined below. …

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