Identity constructions in multilingual advertising

Ingrid Piller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

269 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary social identities are hybrid and complex, and the media play a crucial role in their construction. A shift from political identities based on citizenship to economic ones based on participation in a global consumer market can be observed, together with a concomitant shift from monolingual practices to multilingual and English-dominant ones. This transformation is here explored in a corpus of German advertisements. Multilingual advertisements accounted for 60-70% of all advertisements released on various television networks and in two national newspapers in 1999. The subject positions that are created by multilingual narrators and multilingual narratees are characterized by drawing on the Bakhtinian concept of dialogism, and on point-of-view more generally. In order to test the acceptance of or resistance to these identity constructions outside the discourse of commercial advertising, the uses of multilingualism in nonprofit and personal advertising are also explored. All these discourses valorize German-English bilingualism and set it up as the strongest linguistic currency for the German business elite. (Advertising, discourse analysis, multilingualism, identity, English, Germany, Bakhtin, point-of-view, linguistic capital) *.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-186
Number of pages34
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


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