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Advertising and the future of minority languages in Europe Helen Kelly-Holmes & David Atkinson University of Limerick, Ireland.

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Presentation on theme: "Advertising and the future of minority languages in Europe Helen Kelly-Holmes & David Atkinson University of Limerick, Ireland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Advertising and the future of minority languages in Europe Helen Kelly-Holmes & David Atkinson University of Limerick, Ireland

2 Research Focus Language choice in advertising in areas of Western Europe in which there is an official regional or national commitment to the promotion of one or more historically minoritised languages

3 Hypotheses & Assumptions The appearance of a marginalized language in the familiar textual frame of an advertisement has a very powerful effect In this context (minority autochthonous languages in Western Europe), where there are by definition no monolingual speakers, language choice will always have a strongly symbolic/fetishistic element.

4 Research Questions To what extent are advertisers making statements about their own identity, their customers identities and their products identity through their language choices? Do these choices contribute towards normalization of these historically minoritised languages across different sociolinguistic contexts?

5 Sociolinguistic context of Irish Irish is first official language, but English is the dominant language 1.57 million in Republic report that they can speak Irish (pop. 3.9 million) (Census 2002) 21.6% report using it on a daily basis, but 78% of these were school-going age Effectively no monolingual speakers of Irish Gaeltacht – predominantly Irish-speaking areas

6 The Gaeltacht

7 Irish in Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement (1998) enhanced status of Irish in Northern Ireland (and Ulster Scots and other languages) Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity (Economic, cultural and social issues) In relation to Irish: Commitment to take resolute action to promote the language To facilitate and encourage spoken and written use in public To encourage Irish-medium schools, liase with Irish-speaking community etc.

8 Potential of Irish as advertising language Irish has not been a language associated with the market Both privileged and minoritised e.g. Official Languages Act 2003: The duty of public bodies to ensure that the Irish language only, or the Irish and English languages together, are used, on oral advertisements, -whether they be live or recorded, on stationery, on signage and on advertisements under regulation to be made by the Minister. [Section 9(1)] For the majority of the population – strong symbolism For those who identify themselves primarily as Irish speakers

9 Potential of Irish as advertising language contd. Why not express yourself in the most professional and correct way in the most learned and versatile of languages. Use that which is more authentically Irish than any other aspect of our most ancient but vibrant culture - OUR LANGUAGE ( On each page your customers will be able to choose between English and Irish. Alternatively you may choose to have a site in English only or Irish only. We encourage the use of the Irish Language. You will find that the use of Irish will attract users to your site as it adds to the unique flavour of an Irish business (

10 Foinse (Source) the Irish language national weekly newspaper ; established 1996 Aims to provide high quality Irish language journalism Published in a Gaeltacht region a natural environment where the language can grow and develop ( Foinse sa Rang Read by Irish speakers throughout the country Circulation of ca. 10,000 89 advertisements from 4 issues

11 Sector/ProductNumber of adsLanguage Planning applications45Irish Recruitment27Irish IRL government (tenders, info., grants etc.) 22Irish ex. web addresses (e.g. Language courses6Irish Other courses (HE)5Irish Arts & academic events4Irish, 1 bilingual (Arts Council of NI) Travel (Aer Aran, Irish Rail) 4Irish (incl. Terms & conditions) Quarry4Name only in English Scholarships4Irish Public utilities notices/ sponsorships 2Irish (incl. New rates for electricity) Political party (clinics)2Progressive Democrats (name given bilingually, Irish bigger) Local phone company2Irish Inter-gov & EU tenders1Sponsors in English; Trilingual NI gov. address Publishers and books1Irish (I-E dictionary) National Lottery1Irish apart from name WP services1Irish Seat dealership1Irish (incl. Tech. details etc.)




15 Lá (Day) Daily newspaper Published in Belfast, Northern Ireland Lonely Planet - Ireland Map 86 advertisements from10 issues Although a daily paper, attracts less advertising than Foinse. Circulation ca. 4,000 – not just in Belfast.

16 Sector/Product/ Service No. of adsLanguage Arts & academic events 19Irish, some bilingual (e.g. Pan-Celtic song contest) Professional services13 (repeats)Irish Language courses9Irish Religious courses9Irish TV Rentals7 (repeats)Irish UK/NI govt. tenders etc. 4Irish, apart from gov. addresses IRL government notices, tenders, information 6Irish, only 1 fully bilingual (commission on electronic voting) Educational courses (HE) 6Irish Recruitment5Irish, except 1 NI/UK government dept using bilingual name School open days3Irish Publishers, books, bookshops 3Irish Scholarships2Irish

17 Conclusions re. Advertising in Irish Advertising is exclusively monolingual in Irish, except for some addresses, slogans etc. Government and public sector are main advertisers in Foinse (Rep. IRL) Arts sector is main advertiser in Lá (N.I) Limited number of other domains (e.g. Language courses, education) Very limited no.of purely commercial advertisements; these stand out visually

18 Conclusions re. Advertising in Irish 1. Compulsion: adherence to language policy directives (tokenistic/symbolic/ decorative or communicating with a minority group and as is their right?) 2. Language-ideology-based marketing approach, in which the language is either a core part of the product, and so it must be used in the commercial discourse in order to add to the credibility of the product

19 Conclusions re. Advertising in Irish 3. Domain-specific usage: Irish is found in the domains where we expect to find it; does this challenge commonsense assumptions/ contribute to normalization? 4. Communication with community that identifies itself with the language (more dominant in Lá (N.I. context)) -> language choice in this situation always about constructing identities for product, advertisee etc.

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