Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Sino-Anglo Code-Mixing and Persuasiveness of Chinese Newspaper Advertising: A Sociolinguistic Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Sino-Anglo Code-Mixing and Persuasiveness of Chinese Newspaper Advertising: A Sociolinguistic Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article sets out to investigate a comprehensive sociolinguistic profile of Sino-Anglo code-mixing in Chinese newspaper advertising in terms of typology and functions. Based on a corpus formed of 603 advertisements from three newspapers in Guangdong province in China, the writer categorizes Sino-Anglo code-mixing in the identified cases into insertional code-mixing and alternational code-mixing, identifies the positioning of mixed English and explores how mixing English into Chinese advertising discourses contributes to persuasiveness of advertising from textual and contextual perspectives by use of Markedness Theory. It is concluded that mixing English into Chinese newspaper advertising is an effective verbal strategy to reach the goal of persuasion by enhancing the semantic, rhetoric and contextual effects. Construction of identity through activation of language schema, screening out the target readers and mitigating the tone with consumers through euphemism are three main contextual functions. To study Sino-Anglo code-mixing can shed light on the understanding of dynamism of language situation in China and the relationship between language and society.

Keywords: code-mixing, advertising, persuasiveness, sociolinguistics

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1. Introduction

In human communication, codes are employed as carriers of information. In some circumstances, especially in bilingual or multilingual speech communities, people use more than one code or mixed codes to communicate with each other. With deepening globalization nowadays, even in a monolingual society, code-mixing is common not only in daily conversations, but also in many other contexts such as job interviews, political speeches and mass media. It is also pervasive in China's newspaper advertising discourses. For instance, advertising slogans like "... COOL ... HIGH ..." ("The most attractive and cool phone number gives you the exciting expression of love!") and "... Best wishes for you!" (Perhaps there would be lots of opportunities for you to pursue if you didn't give it up. Best wishes for you!") often greet the readers' eyes.

Code-mixing, as a frequent phenomenon in bilingual and multilingual speech communities, more often refers to a mixing of different codes within a sentence and is also called "intrasentential code-switching", while code-switching is reserved for the alternation of codes across sentence boundaries (Myers-Scotton, 1989; Bokamba, 1989; Wardhaugh, 2000). Muysken (2000) regards "code-switching" as "a rapid succession of several languages in a single speech event" and puts the emphasis on the dynamic process of the alternation of codes in oral communication, with the topic being possibly changed or not changed, while code-mixing is a switch of codes within a simple utterance without any associated topic change. The present article employs code-mixing as a cover term for all the phenomena that lexical items and other grammatical features of different codes co-occur in a discourse since a vast majority of the cases from the data are found to be intrasentential without any change of topic.

The mixing of two codes by itself follows certain patterns, and reveals interesting implications that are quite different from those obtained from the study of natural conversations. It is because while 'conversational language switching patterns...seem to be beyond the conscious control of individual speakers and often even contrary to their expressed language attitudes' (Fasold, 1984, p. 206), mixing a foreign code in advertising is deliberate and intentional. Advertising discourse differs greatly from non-persuasive varieties mostly in that copywriters adopt all types of strategies to persuade the audience to buy the products advertised or at least impress them and make them bear the brand names in mind. "Persuasiveness refers to the function of drawing the attention of the audience and arousing the interests of them in favor of goods and services and urging them to take action to buy. …

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