Russian and English Magazine Advertisements: Gender Differences in Language Use

21st century is the age when time-tested sciences and modern trends can collapse, where in attempts to discover something new and uncover creativity it is necessary for humanity to both cover ancient ideas and add something neoteric into their beliefs. This statement is especially relevant when we describe the sphere of advertising. Advertising is a means of communication with the users of a product or service. Advertisements are messages mostly intended to either inform or influence people who receive them, they target auditory, as defined by the Advertising Association of the UK [1].

In this exact article we are particularly interested in one of the aspects of advertisement – in advertising text and the linguistics point of view on adverts. As advertising texts need to meet the people’s expectations and attract their attention, the sphere of advertisement has been evolving and revolving with the paradigm shifts in human minds or in scientific fields. That is why, undoubtedly, through the ages marketers were interested in how to make a precise and catching text to sell their product or service. In order to complete this task successfully, they needed to understand human psychology, culture, social issues, etc. One of the main issues important for the sphere of advertising became the gender.

The concept of «gender» means the combination of social and cultural norms that society prescribes for people to perform according to their biological sex [2, 15]. In the early 20th century the theme of «Language and Gender» attracted the attention of Jespersen. Jens Otto Harry Jespersen also believed that women are conservative in the use of language, which was illustrated by the example of the emigrant communities, where the native language is maintained while at the same time a second language is acquired. Thus, men will learn a new language faster [3, 51-54].

During the 70-s of the 20th century, broad sociolinguistic researchesweremadeandfocusedmainlyonsyntactic, morphological and phonological variations. Primarily, gender was considered a sociolinguistic factor, just like social position, age, or ethnicity. The science which linked gender and language was established in the middle of 1970-s. The basic work which has launched this area of knowledge became Robin Lakoff’s essay «Language and Woman’s Place» [4].

In Soviet and Post-Soviet space there are also several researchers in this sphere. For instance, Veylert A.A. studied the use of different parts of speeches by men and women [5, 139]. Ryzhkina O.A. and Resnyanskaya L.I. proved in their research that the same lexeme is perceived by men and women as possessing a different degree of positive or negative connotation [6, 42]. Zemskaya E.A. highlighted that most of the words with feminine suffixes denoting occupation are assessed as having «less dignity» than the corresponding masculine names [7, 45].

In Kazakhstan, the question of gender linguistics was studied by such scientists as Sabitova Z.K. and Nurseitova K.K. [8].

Our main objectives in this inquiry were to find out the language differences in advertising texts for men and women between English and Russian magazines. Primarily, this would lead us to comparative analysis of the differences between texts for men and texts for women, that is, we would indicate gender stereotypes used in the sphere of advertisement. Secondly, this would also be a comparative analysis of Russian and English languages in terms of gender: which language tends to be more gender-neutral or, on the contrary, reveals more gender stereotypes, and how they are expressed on every level of language?

Within our research work, we have analysed in total 120 advertising texts, including:

  • 30 advertising texts in English for female target audience from Cosmopolitan USA, December, 2014;
  • 30 advertising texts in Russian for female target audience from Cosmopolitan Kazakhstan, March, 2014;
  • 30 advertising texts in English for male target audience from Esquire UK, September 2015;
  • 30 advertising texts in Russian for male target audience from Esquire Kazakhstan, December 2015

– January 2016.

Within this paper, we have chosen four main aspects for the analysis of advertising texts.

The first aspect that we have chosen was phonographic and phonetic aspects combined. We have decided to observe them both together, as in printed advertisement graphons, or phonographic language means, usually reflect the same aims as phonetic means in radio or television commercials. Besides, even though phonetic level itself is rarely used in printed texts, there are still some examples that we have found in adverts in the magazines analysed.

Graphons are widely used in advertising texts in both languages: female-oriented texts in English used graphons in 24 texts out of 30, which makes

80 % of adverts; in male-oriented English texts, the amount was approximately the same – 25 advertising texts out of thirty (83 %). However, in Russian adverts the differences is more significant: 100 % of advertising texts for men included graphons, while only 47 % of texts for women (that is 14 texts) had them. The most widely used graphon was type with all capital letters, followed by bold type. The most seldom graphon used was italic type.

As we have mentioned before, phonetic devices are not that common in printed adverts, as they possess more effect in oral advertisement. However, in English language they are still more common, especially in adverts for women: 40 % of the texts used phonetic stylistic devices, such as paronomasia, assonance, onomatopoeia and, the most common one, rhyme. For men, the amount of these devices was 10 % and included only rhymes and assonance. The authors of Russian advertising texts did not consider phonetic devices useful for their target audiences

– we can see only one example of phonetic devise used in adverts for women and no phonetic devices for men.

The following are the examples from advertising texts, showing the use of graphons and phonetic devices in English language:

  1. For male target audience:

AL TERRAIN NO PAIN [9, 52]

This extract from advertisement uses both a graphon (all capital letters type) and a phonetic stylistic device – rhyme.

  1. For female target audience:

COVERGIRL

easy breezy beautiful

SAY SOMETHING JUICY! [10, 103]

In this case we also observe the same graphon and rhyme (easy – breezy).

Thus, the phonetical level shows significant difference between advertising texts in Russian and English and between men and women as well.

The second aspect that we have observed was the morphological aspect. For this research we were particularly interested in the prevailing use of certain parts of speech in texts for men and women. The inquiry has shown the difference between texts for men and women. English advertising texts for women used the abundance of adjectives, as in the example below:

Lara Stone is wearing Féria Absolute Platinum in Extreme Platinum. Platinum to dye for. Multifaceted. Shimmering. White-hot.

Defy the convention of haircolour. White this pure is Féria Absolute Platinum, an extreme lightening system. Lightens up to 7 levels without ammonia for multi-faceted, shimmering platinum. Tinted conditioner neutralizes brassiness. This is the cool, new white [10, 26].

In this abstract, 14 adjectives were used. Russian advertising texts use approximately the same morphological patter, preferring to utilize adjectives as much as possible:

Новый блеск для губ «сияние грез» от FFaa-berlic отлично подойдет для свидания. Перламутровый 3D-эффект придает губам эффектный объем и зеркальное сияние, а активные компоненты в его составе стимулируют кровообращение и ухаживают за кожей, сохра няя губы мягкими и нежными. Тебе понравится нелипкая текстура блеска и его естественный оттенок – то, что надо для первых весенних дней! [11, 60]

In this case, 10 adjectives are used. On the contrary, in advertising texts for men we cannot meet this amount of adjectives. In Russian advertising texts, prevailing part of speech is nouns:

Смартфон для тех, кто всегда в движении Мощный аккумулятор, 4000 мАч Возможность подзарядки других устройств Покрытие с функцией защиты от брызг [12, 13]

We can see that this advertising text almost completely consists of nouns.

Even though English adverts with male target audience also show the prevalence of nouns and verbs, they have some peculiarities that are almost never used in other observed cases. They are distinguished by abundance of numerals, as in the following example:

This intelligent hybrid decides when it’s more efficient to use petrol or electricity, giving in the ability to deliver a staggering 148 mpg. With an electric range of up to 32 miles the Outlander PHEV easily tackles the UK’s average daily drive on a single charge – and on longer journeys the petrol engine helps out to achieve a combined range of up to 510 miles. The battery can be charged in just a few hours via a domestic plug socket, a low-cost home Charge Point or one of over 7,500 Charge Points found across the UK. With ultra-low CO2 emissions the Outlander PHEV is exempt from Road Tax and the London Congestion Charge – as well as being eligible for drastically reduced Benefit in Kind taxation. There’s even £5,000 off the list price through the Government Plug-in Car Grant, which means an Outlander PHEV will cost you from just £28,249, the same price as the Outlander Diesel – and it comes with a 5 year warranty [9, 56].

There are seven numerals in this advert – this much could never be met neither in advertising texts for women, nor in Russian advertisements for men. Thus, we can see that both English and Russian adverts for women tend to use more adjectives in accordance with stereotypical female language perception peculiarities. On the other hand, advertising texts for men tend to use more nouns, verbs, and, in case of English adverts, more numerals.

The next aspect we have analysed was dedicated to lexis, mostly – to lexical stylistic devices.

English advertising texts for women showed us the use of 14 lexical stylistic devices, which are: metaphors, idioms, foreign words, tautology, epithets, terms, hyperboles, oxymoron, cliché, irony, pleonasm, simile, abbreviation and occasionalism. The most frequent device used was metaphor. Russian adverts have slightly less texts then English ones, 11: tautology, terms, cliché, personification, analytical transformation of phraseological unit, epithets, metaphors, simile, idioms, hyperboles. However, the frequency of using lexical stylistic devices is still higher in Russian language. Metaphors and epithets here are the most frequent devices.

Below are some examples from advertising texts with female target audience.

  1. From Russian magazine:

Верная тональность.

Обновленный тональный крем capture Totale от Dior освежит тусклый (привет, авитаминоз!) цвет лица и сделает его визуально моложе. Средство не забивается в мелкие морщинки, а пигменты цвета адаптируются к освещению таким образом, что несовершенства кожи «стираются» [11, 44].

In this advertising text we can observe:

  • two metaphors: верная тональность, несовершенства «стираются»;
  • personification: привет, авитаминоз!;
  • use of foreign words: capture Totale, Dior;
  • terms: пигменты адаптируются.
  1. From English magazine:

LUNA mini. Give them the gift that keeps on giving.

Give them clearer, healthier-looking skin with the LUNA mini by FOREO.

This stylish device delivers deep yet gentle cleansing for amazing skin day after day – so they’ll be thanking you for years to come [10, 76].

In this case we observe:

  • repetition: give them;
  • idioms: keep on giving; day after day; for years to come.

If we speak about male-oriented adverts, they may also use a variety of lexical stylistic devices.

Russian texts use the following devices: foreign words, metaphors, personification, abbreviations, terms, epithets, idioms, repetition, borrowings, cliché, hyperbole. However, in this case prevailing means are abbreviations and terms. English advertising texts use abbreviations, terms, slang, metaphors, obscene lexis, simile, pun, hyperbole. The most frequent ones are also terms and abbreviations. In Russian texts, lexical stylistic devices were expressed in 29 cases out of 30. In English, however, only 20 texts showed us the use of lexical stylistic devices. The following are examples from male-oriented advertising texts:

  1. From English magazine:

There’s not a single cloud in the sky and yet it’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee that really shines. With its dynamic looks, luxurious interior, innovative technologies and strong, yet efficient engines things really don’t get any better. Perhaps that’s why it’s the most awarded SUV ever. And should the weather take a turn for the worse, you can always turn on the heated seats.^

[…] Model shown is the Jeep Grand Cherokee litre V6 Summit at £51,995 OTR. Official fuel consumption figures for the Jeep® Grand Cherokee Diesel range in mpg (l/100km): Extra Urban 43.5 (6.5), Urban 30.4 (9.3), Combined 37.7 (7.5), CO2 Emissions: 198 g/km [9, 76].

Lexical stylistic devices here include:

  • metaphor: Jeep… really shines;
  • epithets: dynamic looks;
  • hyperbole: thing’s really don’t get any better;
  • terms: fuel consumption;
      • abbreviations: mpg.

This advert is the one that uses the largest number of lexical devices in English male magazine; the others either express these means less or do not express them at all.

  1. From Russian magazine:

RADO

S W I T Z E R L A N D ОЩУТИ ХОД ВРЕМЕНИ

RADO DIAMASTER GRANDE SECONDE* ПЛАЗМЕННАЯ ВЫСОКОТЕХНОЛОГИЧ-

НАЯ КЕРАМИКА. СОВРЕМЕННАЯ АЛХИМИЯ.

Сети магазинов SWISS TIME (ТРЦ MEGA Alma-Ata, ТРЦ MEGA 2 Alma-Ata, Esentai Mall, ТРЦ Dostyk Plaza, ТЦ Promenade, ТРЦ «Алмалы»), магазин швейцарских часов CHRONOS [12, 1-2].

These are lexical means from this ad:

  • foreign words (English): Switzerland, Swiss Time;
  • personification: ход времени;
  • abbreviations: ТРЦ, ТЦ;
  • epithet: современная алхимия;
  • terms: плазменная.

There is one peculiarity in Russian advertising texts both for men and women which causes abundance of lexical devices used almost in every advert. English words (either non-translated or borrowed) are used in almost every Russian text – as the name of brands, slogans, in descriptions, as metaphors, as terms, etc. This increases the rate of lexical devices in Russian adverts.

We can also see that advertising texts for women use more stylistic devices on lexical level than adverts for men.

The fourth aspect was syntactic one. Here we were interested in the following parameters of advertising texts:

  • complete or incomplete sentences;
  • extended or non-extended sentences;
  • simple or complex sentences;
  • use of imperative mood;
  • use of interrogative sentences;
  • stylistic devices: parallelism, antithesis, quotations, bullet lists, rhetorical questions, gradation, etc. 

Our analysis showed that there is no significant difference on syntactic level between the texts analyzed in all four categories. The most common pattern of sentences was complete simple extended sentence. Stylistic devices were not used frequently on this level: 9 for English adverts for women; 2 for Russian adverts for women; 9 for English adverts for men; 4 for Russian adverts for men. Thus, syntactic devices are slightly more common for English texts than for Russian ones.

Thus, we can conclude that there are the following main differences between the observed advertising texts:

  1. English texts use phonetic stylistic devices more than Russian ones, and they are more frequent in adverts for women, not for men;
  2. prevailing part of speech in advertising texts for women is adjective, for men – nouns; there is not much difference between English and Russian texts in this case;
  3. Russian advertising texts typically use more lexical stylistic devices both for men and women;
  4. the most common lexical means for women are metaphors, for men – terms and abbreviations in both English and Russian;
  5. syntactic devices are used in English slightly more than in Russian and are not bounded to gender of the target audience.

We assume that the area of our interests needs more research and future investigation, especially in the sphere of how men and women actually perceive advertising text with these gender stereotypes.

 

References

  1. The case for advertising // Advertising Association – http://www.adassoc.org.uk.
  2. Slovar’ gendernyh terminov / pod red. A. A. Denisovoj / Regional’naja obshhestvennaja organizacija «Vostok-Zapad: Zhenskie Innovacionnye Proekty». – M.: Informacija XXI vek, 2002. – 256 s.
  3. Jespersen Otto. Selected writings. – New York: Routledge, 2010. – 471 p.
  4. Lakoff R. Language and Woman’s Place. – New York: Harper and Row, 1975. – 328 p.
  5. Vejlert A.A. O zavisimosti kolichestvennyh pokazatelej jazyka ot pola govorjashhego. – M.: Voprosy jazykoznanija, 1976.– S. 138-143.
  6. Ryzhkina O.A., Resnjanskaja L.I. Psihoi sociolingvisticheskij analiz jazykovogo portreta gorozhanina // Zhivaja rech’ ural’skogo goroda. – Sverdlovsk, 1988. – S. 39-47.
  7. Zemskaja E.A., Kitajgorodskaja M.V., Rozanova N.N. O chem i kak govorjat zhenshhiny i muzhchiny. – M.: Russkaja rech’, 1989. – S. 42-46.
  8. Izvestnye uchenye stran SNG – http://www.cis-scientists.ru/scientists/12988/.
  9. Esquire UK / edited by Chater D. – UK: Hearst Magazines, September 2015. – 191 p.
  10. Cosmopolitan USA / edited by Coles J. – USA: Hearst Magazines, December, 2014. – 221 p.
  11. Cosmopolitan Kazakhstan / pod red. Akishevoj M. – Almaty: ML Press, mart 2014. – 211 s.
  12. Esquire Kazakhstan / pod red. Hajbullina I. – №12. – Almaty, dekabr’ 2015 – janvar’ 2016. – 137 s.
Magazine: KazNU BULLETIN
Year: 2015
City: Almaty
Category: Philology