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Standard Southern British English as referee design in Irish radio advertising

Joan O’Sullivan
From the journal Linguistics

Abstract

The exploitation of external as opposed to local language varieties in advertising can be associated with a history of colonization, the external variety being viewed as superior to the local (Bell 1991, The language of news media. Oxford: Basil Blackwell: 145). Although “Standard English” in terms of accent was never an exonormative model for speakers in Ireland (Hickey 2012, Standard Irish English. In Raymond Hickey (ed.), Standards of English: Codified varieties around the world, 96–116. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), nevertheless Ireland’s history of colonization by Britain, together with the geographical proximity and close socio-political and sociocultural connections of the two countries makes the Irish context an interesting one in which to examine this phenomenon. This study looks at how and to what extent standard British Received Pronunciation (RP), now termed Standard Southern British English (SSBE) (see Hughes et al. 2012, English accents and dialects, 5th edn. New York: Routledge) as opposed to Irish English varieties is exploited in radio advertising in Ireland. The study is based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of a corpus of ads broadcast on an Irish radio station in the years 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007. The use of SSBE in the ads is examined in terms of referee design (Bell 1984, Language style as audience design. Language in Society 13(2). 145–204.) which has been found to be a useful concept in explaining variety choice in the advertising context and in “taking the ideological temperature” of society (Vestergaard and Schroder 1985, The language of advertising. Oxford: Blackwell: 121). The analysis is based on Sussex’s (1989, The Americanisation of Australian English: Prestige models in the media. In Peter Collins & David Blair (eds.), Australian English: The language of a new society, 158–170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) advertisement components of Action and Comment, which relate to the genre of the discourse.

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the invaluable guidance and support of Professor Helen Kelly-Holmes, Professor of Applied Languages, University of Limerick with regard to my research. I would also like to thank the reviewers of this paper for their helpful comments.

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Published Online: 2017-4-1
Published in Print: 2017-5-24

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