Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


The use of English in foreign-language advertising abroad has been explored in depth, as has the role English plays in globalization. However, there remains a paucity of research concerning English use in foreign-language advertising within English-speaking countries. This analysis of Miami-based Spanish commercials explores the roles that identity and citizenship play in profit-motivated code-switching, in addition to questioning the oft-held assumption that English use carries a singular social meaning regardless of context. Beginning with a look at previous advertising studies, namely those of Ingrid Piller and Tej Bhatia, this study examines how English language use within the United States both contrasts and coincides with its use in German and Indian advertising. Next, Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of a linguistic marketplace is introduced to analyze class relations as they relate to code-switching. The study then draws from Mikhail Bakhtin to explain how advertising employs heteroglossia and double-voicing to sell products and propagate existing ideologies of language value and class dominance. This is accomplished primarily by means of profit-motivated code-switching between English and Spanish phonologies, which lend either authority or authenticity to products. Lastly, a discussion of Bonnie Urciuoli and Robin Lakoff aids in understanding the concepts of the public and the private spheres as they relate to linguistic hegemony and marketing tactics.



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