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Cross Cultural Analysis of Chinese and Japanese Television Advertisements and its Pedagogical Application
Based on a cross-cultural point of view, this study compares television advertisements in Chinese and Japanese, both of which are featured collectivism and high-context culture in the oriential cultural background. Research on collectivism and individualism, and high-context and low-context culture, mostly focused on the differences between the East and the West, and lacks of the comparision between two languages used in different countries that belong to the same cultural region, like Chinese and Japanese. Furthermore, advertisements can be seen as reflection of culture, while television advertising is the mainly used form in all types of advertising. However, research on television advertising in Taiwan has dealt with the issues in respect of marketing or the nature of advertisements. The linguistic perspective in television advertisements has been left untouched. At the same time, western research on language usage in advertising has mainly emphasized on segments of phrases or sentences, and has never viewed its advertisements as a whole and examined under a complete discourse. Against this backdrop, this study aims to analyze the structural categories, forms, and message strategies in Chinese and Japanese television advertisements, and to make a cross-cultural comparison. Corpus used in this paper was collected from cable television and terrestrial television network of Taiwan, as well as Japanese television advertisement archives on-line. According to the qualitative and quantitative analysis on it, the result demonstrates distinctive preferences for structural categories, forms, and message strategies in television advertisements both in Taiwan and Japan. Chinese advertisements fall right into the category of “reason advertising,” which begins with product-related information or the name of the product, and then introduces the “function” and “feature” of the product. This type of message strategy puts it main emphasis on the precision of the language instead of on the cultural context. Therefore, Chinese television advertisements show characteristics of a low-context culture. On the other hand, in Japanese advertisements, not only “reasoning” but also “tickling” are observed. This type of strategy often incorporates non-product related messages, such as narrative, drama, and music, with the advertisements, in which a kind of “lifestyle” is created. This feature implies that less prominence is given to language itself in Japanese advertisements, while important messages are usually delivered through contextual clues, such as time and space, situation, and relationship. This finding indicates Japanese advertisements fall into the category of a high-context culture. The commonly used structure of discourse and formula of message strategy found in Chinese advertisements will be pointed out in the end of this study. Based on these findings, teaching suggestions on culture will be given to Japanese-speaking Chinese learners, in hope of improving their comprehension ability on cross cultural knowledge.
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