Brands can position themselves as belonging to a foreign culture by using foreign languages in advertising. Foreign languages in ads have been suggested to be implicit country-of-origin (COO) cues. This paper examines the expectations that foreign languages operate through the COO effect (Study 1), and that they evoke associations (Study 2) and generate persuasive effects (Study 3) similar to COO mentions. The findings of the studies, employing different language slogans for different products, lend support to these expectations. Thus, foreign languages in advertising derive their effectiveness from the COO effect, and practitioners can use them to benefit from this effect.
- Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2017). Foreign languages as implicit country-of-origin cues in advertising: Mechanism, associations, and effects. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 29 (2), 60-73.
In commercial messages, such as advertisements, foreign languages are sometimes displayed. Regardless of whether readers understand the foreign language utterance, researchers have claimed that such foreign language display evokes curiosity to read the ad, and improves ad and product evaluation. Whereas empirical research has established the impact of foreign language display on evaluation, no studies have been conducted on its curiosity-evoking capacity. In this research note, the importance of this capacity is highlighted, and a first study is presented that tested this capacity. The results did not find support for the curiosity-evoking capacity of foreign language display.
- Hornikx, J., & Mulder, E. (2015). The curiosity-evoking capacity of foreign languages in advertising. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4 (1), 59-66. [link]
One of the linguistic consequences of globalization is the increase in the number of people communicating with each other in a language that is not their own. Studies have started to examine how non-nativeness affects people in their production and evaluation of discourse. This special interest section brings together a collection of empirical papers in a particular domain of non-nativeness in communication, that is, the use and effects of foreign languages in job and product advertisements. These papers investigate how the use of foreign languages is appreciated by non-native users, what determines the occurrence of foreign languages, how recall of foreign languages compares to the recall of L1 advertising, and whether foreign languages attract the readers’ curiosity. Together, these papers demonstrate the growing academic interest in non-nativeness in communication.
- Hornikx, J. (2015). Non-nativeness in communication: Use and effects of foreign languages in advertising. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4 (1), 1-5. [link]
When targeting consumers on a global scale, companies make strategic use of languages in their advertising campaigns. This chapter presents an overview of theories and research regarding the effectiveness of the use of foreign languages (foreign language display, FLD) in advertising. The aim is to bring together theories and empirical studies from various domains, and to show principled explanations for the effectiveness of FLD from two perspectives. The first, psycholinguistic perspective examines the way in which foreign languages in advertising are mentally processed; the second, sociolinguistic perspective links the foreign language use to characteristics of the country where the foreign language is typically spoken. This chapter presents empirical evidence for the benefits and drawbacks of FLD, and identifies areas for further research.
- Hornikx, J., & Meurs, F. van (2015). Foreign language display in advertising from a psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective: A review and research agenda. In J. M. Alcántara-Pilar, S. del Barrio-García, E. Crespo-Almedros, & L. Porcu (Eds.), Analyzing the cultural diversity of consumers in the global marketplace (pp. 299-319). Hershey: IGI Global. [link]
A question which has not yet been addressed in loanword studies is to what extent people perceive loanwords as having different meanings than their native-language equivalents, and on what factors this may depend. Two factors determining association overlap between equivalent L1 and L2 words are their concreteness and cognateness. The aim of the current study was to determine experimentally to what extent English loanwords from Dutch job ads evoke the same associations as their Dutch equivalents, and to what extent this association overlap is predicted by the degree of concreteness and cognateness of these words. In an experiment, 60 Dutch participants wrote down associations with 30 English loanwords selected from corpora of Dutch job ads and with their Dutch counterparts, in two sessions separated by a six-week interval. As a baseline, they also wrote down three associations with English/Dutch word pairs which Van Hell and De Groot (1998) had found evoked a relatively small and a relatively large proportion of overlapping associations, respectively. The degree of concreteness and cognateness of these words was determined in separate norming studies involving 129 Dutch participants. It can be concluded that – in line with the Conceptual Feature Model – Dutch people have different associations with English loanwords from Dutch job ads than with their Dutch equivalents, and therefore link them to different conceptual features. The results showed that the mean overlap in associations between the English loanwords from Dutch job ads and their Dutch equivalents was 21.6%. This was significantly less than the percentage for the word pairs for which large overlap had been expected (30.6%), and similar to the percentage for the word pairs for which little overlap had been expected (21.4%). Regression analyses revealed that the degree of association overlap was significantly predicted by cognateness but not by concreteness.
- Meurs, F. van, Hornikx, J., & Bossenbroek. G. (2014). English loanwords and their counterparts in Dutch job advertisements: An experimental study in association overlap. In Zenner, E. & Kristiansen, G. (Red.), New perspectives on lexical borrowing: Onomasiological, methodological and phraseological innovations (pp. 171-190). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter (pdf online).
Advertising often confronts consumers with foreign languages, such as German or French in the US, but little is known about the circumstances under which this is effective. The linguistic theory of foreign language display claims that the congruence with the product is the essential element in its effectiveness. This study investigates this premise by having Dutch participants (N = 150) evaluate ads for products that were (in)congruent with the language of the slogan (French, German, Spanish). Results show that foreign language display is indeed more effective for congruent (e.g., wine–French) than for incongruent products (e.g., beer–French).
- Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Hof, R.-J. (2013). The effectiveness of foreign-language display in advertising for congruent versus incongruent products. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 25 (3), 152-165. [pdf].
Studies have demonstrated frequent use of English in international advertising, but little is known about people’s preference for English versus local languages. This paper empirically investigated the difficulty of the English language as a possible determinant of people’s preference for English or the local language. In an experiment, Dutch participants judged a number of car ads with English slogans that were pre-tested as easy or difficult to understand. They were subsequently asked to express a preference for either the English slogan or the Dutch equivalent. Results showed that easy-to-understand English slogans were appreciated better than difficult-to-understand English slogans. Moreover, the degree of difficulty in comprehension of the English slogans affected participants’ preference for English. English was preferred to Dutch when it was easy to understand; when it was difficult to understand, English was appreciated as much as the Dutch equivalent. In conclusion, the experiment provides empirical support for the role of comprehension in the preference for and appreciation of English in international advertising.
- Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Boer, A. de (2010). English or a local language in advertising? The appreciation of easy and difficult English slogans in the Netherlands. Journal of Business Communication, 47 (2), 169-188. [pdf]
Reclamemakers gebruiken regelmatig vreemde talen om hun doelgroep te verrassen en te overtuigen. In dit artikel bespreken we recent onderzoek naar vreemde talen in reclame. Vreemde talen roepen verschillende associaties op die soms positief en soms negatief zijn. Empirisch onderzoek laat zien dat de overtuigingskracht van vreemde talen beïnvloed wordt door de koppeling met de producten die worden aanbevolen in de advertentie (bv. bij sinaasappels is Spaans effectiever dan bij wasmachines) en door het begrip van de gebruikte uiting in de vreemde taal (bv. gemakkelijk Frans is effectiever dan moeilijk Frans). We sluiten af met toepassingsmogelijkheden voor de onderwijspraktijk.
- Hornikx, J., & Starren, M. (2008). Overtuigen met vreemde talen: de rol van taalimago. Levende Talen Tijdschrift, 9 (3), 14-20. [pdf]
Vreemde talen worden veel gebruikt in reclameadvertenties. Deze talen zouden bepaalde associaties oproepen waardoor de advertentie effectiever wordt. De effectiviteit van vreemde talen zou groter moeten zijn naarmate de gebruikte talen goed passen bij het product in de advertentie (Domzal, Hunt, & Kernan, 1995; Hornikx & Starren, 2006). Frans zou bijvoorbeeld beter passen bij parfum dan bij televisies. Om empirisch te toetsen of vreemde talen inderdaad effectiever zijn bij passende producten is een experiment opgezet. Het gebruik van vreemde talen bij passende producten (bv. Spaans – sinaasappels) is vergeleken met niet-passende producten (bv. Spaans – wasmachine). Honderdvijftig proefpersonen beoordeelden enkele advertenties met Duitse, Franse of Spaanse slagzinnen. De resultaten bevestigden de verwachting: advertenties waren overtuigender wanneer de vreemde taal paste bij het product dan wanneer die taal niet paste.
- Hornikx, J., & Hof, R.-J. (2008). De effectiviteit van vreemde talen in productreclame: moet het product passen bij de taal? Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 30 (2), 147-156. [pdf upon request]
In multilingual advertising, a foreign language is often used for symbolic purposes. In non-French-speaking countries, for instance, French is said to be associated with charm and style. The assumption is that the associations carried by the foreign language are transferred to the product that is advertised. A product advertised using French would thus also be seen as charming and stylish. Although a number of suggestions have been made as to the associations evoked by particular foreign languages, it has never been tested what associations are actually evoked in the minds of consumers. In an experimental study, 78 Dutch respondents were asked to write down their associations with two advertisements for one product which were identical except for the foreign language in which they were written (French, German, or Spanish). We investigated the kinds of associations evoked, the number of associations, their valence (positive, negative, neutral), and participants’ appreciation of the foreign language advertisement. Results showed that the different languages evoked partly different associations, and that the valence of the associations, and not their number, affected participants’ preference for the advertisement. Participants preferred the ad with the highest number of positive associations and the lowest number of negative associations.
- Hornikx, J., Meurs, F. van, & Starren, M. (2007). An empirical study on readers’ associations with multilingual advertising: the case of French, German, and Spanish in Dutch advertising. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 28 (3), 204-219. [pdf]