The Mixed Language of Russian TV Commericals

Irena P. Ustinova, Syracuse University

Television advertising utilizes both the auditory and the visual communication channels, thus, a cognitive burden imposed on a consumer is great, and the evaluation of its verbal message is a complicated task. The mixing of sound and visual effects with different linguistic forms in Russian TV commercials makes the coping with a message even more challenging. The purpose of the paper is to describe how languages are employed in Russian TV commercials. The papers deals with the types of TV advertisement and the language choice, as well as with the structural units of TV commercials and mixed language incidence.

More than five hundred television advertisements of three types: social, service and commercial, that were taped in Russia in 1998-2001, are included in the study's sample. The majority of social and service ads are in Russian and their themes are local in character. The commercial ads are more likely to use the strategy of glocalization (the term of Pr. Tej Bhatia), as in more than 70% of my data two linguistic systems, most often, English and Russian, are integrated.

The text of an advertisement can be treated as a special type of discourse. According to my data analysis twelve structural components are identified in a Russian TV commercial: Headline, Subheader or Attention getter; Body; Slogan; Product name; Company name or Logo; Wrappers or Labels; Pricing; Availability; Producer of goods; Contact information; Target consumer; Proof of certification or registration. Each of these components can be in English or in an English-Russian mix, and mixing of languages can serve as a source of creativity in Russian TV commercials.

The paper contributes to the investigation of the role of English in TV commercials at the global level.