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Language in Media and Advertising

Aditya Jain (13044)

Gaurav (13274)
Kamesh Kanwariya (13336)
Palash Chauhan (13455)
Rasesh Gupta (13555)

ENG448A: Languages of South Asia

Media forms
From Print to Internet
Radio and Television
Limitations of conventional media forms

Media Modalities
Wall advertising
Print advertising

The function of language in South Asian media- multifaceted, colorful, and
distinct in a number of ways
Reasons- complex linguistic, social, political, historical, and economic situation in
the subcontinent
Wall paintings and Bollywood- forms the integral and distinct parts and symbolize
the economic and developmental vibrancy of the region
The reach of South Asian media- beyond the one-third of the worlds population
that inhabits South Asia

The focus- is to address the main issues that confront contemporary South
Asian media,
so in order answer the same, it will identity:
Conventional and nonconventional forms

Innovative aspects of South Asian media

Assess the present state of South Asian media in terms of its linguistic
Examine textual characteristics of South Asian media discourse- wall
paintings and print media

The generalizations drawn- to a large extent, valid for written South Asian
media discourse, and to a lesser extent for spoken discourse

Major Issues
The dispersion phenomenon- a twofold challenge to advertisers and mass
communicators wishing to reach rural audiences:
Geographic dispersion: Rural audiences are scattered over many small villages,
many of which are still beyond the reach of conventional media, and corporate
giants and champions of rural marketing, such as Hindustan Lever are struggling
to reach them.
Linguistic dispersion: South Asia is a multilingual subcontinent with dozens of
major languages and hundreds of dialects/varieties.
Other variables such as the question of language and dialect choices, income
disparity, social stratification, and gender scatter, that can complicate the

The most urgent concerns of mass communicators, advertisers, and marketers are
1. How do media planners, advertisers, and marketers reach the unreachable
with the most suitable media to ensure maximal spatial reach?
2. How can the consumers be reached linguistically and effectively?
3. Assuming that one can reach rural masses, then the critical problem still
remains: how to mobilize villagers to the point of sale or the focal point of
action (e.g. for developmental campaigns such as family planning)?

Media forms
South Asia Media

Conventional forms



Non-conventional forms


Wall advertising

Video-van advertising

This usage of aforementioned forms is in agreement with typical usage by experts in

South Asian media in general and Indian advertising and the mass-media industry in
The major question therefore is how to reach the unreachable?
The easiest solution would be to reach rural population by means of the conventional
electronic media (radio and TV).

Conventional media:
From print to the Internet
South Asian print media
The first newspapers in South Asia - in English for the local British expatriate
The first South Asian language- in Bengali in 1818
















South Asian newspapers and periodicals

From print to the Internet

In these five countries of South Asia, newspapers and periodicals appear in fewer than
three indigenous languages
In India and Pakistan, newspapers and periodicals appear in numerous languages
South Asian print media is also well represented on the Internet
Except India and Pakistan, rest have newspaper on web in fewer than two indigenous
Every South Asian country have newspapers and periodicals in English
The legacy of English in South Asia is easily seen in the number of English
newspapers on the Internet

The lowest number are registered in Dogri Language (2), followed by Kashmiri (5)
and Bodo (5).

Electronic Media: Radio and Television

Along with Radio, Cable TV and Satellite TV are also making inroads throughout the
The government controlled radio and television stations in each country broadcast
daily Home Services in a variety of languages and dialects.






Sri Lanka

















Note: m=millions

Radio and TV receivers in South Asia

India and Pakistan radio and television broadcast in multiple languages:

Indias Home Services broadcast in seventy-two languages and dialects, and
Pakistans, in twenty-two languages
The other South Asian countries broadcast in fewer languages (at max. 4 )
Most South Asian countries also have radio External Services
The Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation provides in Sinhala, Tamil, English,
Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, and Telugu
Indias External Services broadcast in twenty-two languages and Pakistans, in
The Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation- in Urdu for overseas Pakistanis
English- prominent place in South Asian media; both radio and television broadcasts
in English
While the prominence of English is self-evident, the diversity and the power of the
regional language media can hardly be underestimated

Limitations of Conventional Electronic Media

TV is beyond the reach of rural South Asia. Electricity is not yet accessible to
many if not most people living in rural areas. Remote rural areas are still
inaccessible to this powerful medium.
more than half the reach of TV- through secondary viewing programs such as
community viewing;
reach and frequency of regional language and vernacular programming is still
the ownership of color TV sets is extremely low. This in turn places severe
limitations on the artistic delivery of the message;
viewers low involvement with advertised messages is another weakness.

Has maximum reach but is still under a lot of government control;
Program options are limited;
No visual content;
Like TV, low involvement with ad messages on the part of listeners.
Print media
Low level of literacy and lack of availability at the right time and right place are
still problems.

Role of languages
Comprises a barrier to a worldwide community of debate and opinion
The translator has room to shift a bias by choosing weighed words for
Language - a political factor in mass media

Non-conventional media forms

Go where rural India lives and go where villagers go
Tailor the message according to rural viewing tastes and linguistic
Bring interactivity with the message, which is usually lacking within the
conventional media
Bring state-of-the art narrowcast and broadcast viewing to rural audiences

Advertising media discourse

Series of complex mixes
Mix of media forms and languages and their regional, social, and genderlects
together with various scripts

Not just bilingual-language mixing but also multiple-language mixing

Qualitative and quantitative aspects of mixing is subject to the factors

Media modalities
Domain and functional allocation of language

Media modalities: Wall versus print advertising

The incidence of language mixing is much higher in print advertising than in wall
Wall advertising usually avoids the body-copy or main-text component of the
print ads.
Wall advertising prefers conciseness to elaborate explanation about the
properties of the product
Color schemes and the physical properties of a wall are usually exploited
systematically to impose a structure on an ad

Wall Advertising

Slogan/ Product

Attention Getter

in hindi

Multiple language and script mixing

Print Advertising

Details to attract readers

specific Community


Contemporary Advertising
Current topics
Roman script
Use of English

English and structural domains

Product Name
The most favored and most easily accessible domain to English
1,200 Hindi advertisements between 1975-85, more than 90% have a product name in English
Sanforized, Mustang,VIP, Travel-light, Fair and Lovely, Protein Conditioner Shampoo

Company Name/Logo
Next to product names, company names show the most use of English among parts of ads

Even the names which are not English are given an English look (eg. SONY - Tokyo Tsushin
Kogyo - Totsuko)


Structural Hierarchy
In order to reach the
highest step of the
staircase, English
must pass through all
those steps, which
precede it.
This hierarchy also
predicts the process
by which English
gains currency in
global advertising.

Language Choice
Target group made up of minorities
Ease of processing
Affective response
Political Factors

Globalization and Marketization

Globalization of markets is the tendency of businesses, technologies to spread
throughout the world
Numerous global brands selling products in South Asia, predominantly in urban
English is their chosen language for advertising
Advertising in English aiming urban population widespread in South Asia

English is the leading linguistic vehicle for the homogenization of global

advertising discourse

Globalization or glocalization ?
In the previous section we said that English is the linguistic cause of
homogenisation of advertising discourse
Doesnt mean that English is leading to complete homogenisation
The process of localization of English parallels the process of globalization
Use of local dominant English words in advertisements is a recognizable
feature in South Asia

Globalization or glocalization ?
Example: Fair and Lovely -> a popular facial cream
Uses the word fair, which refers to light skin
Not a predominant usage in British or American English
Hence, the ad uses a localised version of English

Use of the word Flats in real estate advertisements, instead of Apartments

Hence, English not leading to complete homogenisation
Is this globalisation or glocalisation ?

Globalization or glocalization ?
Example: Fair and Lovely -> a popular facial cream
Uses the word fair, which refers to light skin
Not a predominant usage in British or American English
Hence, the ad uses a localised version of English

Use of the word Flats in real estate advertisements, instead of Apartments

Hence, English not leading to complete homogenisation
Can better be described as glocalisation -> customizing international
products according to local culture in which they are sold

Quantitative Aspects of English

Is incidence of English usage increasing in advertising ?

It indeed is !

todays corporate advertisements focused not on promoting the quality of

product, but on communicating an attitude, experience, or lifestyle that is
attractive to their target audience
English usage is considered to communicate globality, modernism, and

Quantitative Aspects of English

Example: Analysis of Fair and Lovely ads of 1980s and 1990s
Removal of Hindi expressions in 1990s like gorepan kii sukomal tarkiib
Addition of several English expressions like moisturizing
Header saw 33% increase in English word count
Overall the 1990s ad had 50% more English words

This is applicable not only for South Asia, but in the whole world

Amidst all linguistic and other challenges faced by media and advertisers to reach
1 billion people, they have been very innovative devising new media forms like
Mixing of languages and script is the hallmark of South Asian Advertising
In its role as the language of global advertising, not only is English leading to the
homogenization of the advertising discourse worldwide, but also diversifying itself
in a number of ways


Kachru, Braj B., Yamuna Kachru, and Shikaripur Narayana Rao Sridhar.Language in
South Asia. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Bhatia, Tej K., and William C. Ritchie, eds. The handbook of bilingualism. John Wiley &
Sons, 2008.

Noriega, Jaime, and Edward Blair. "Advertising to bilinguals: Does the language of
advertising influence the nature of thoughts?." Journal of Marketing 72.5 (2008): 69-83