The Effects of Advertising on Language: Making the Sacred Profane

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... As another example, Eliade (1959) notes that several European terms for 'children' (Kinderbrunnen, Kinderteiche, Bubenquellen, etc.) all imply a place, an emotional link that reaches beyond simple family and ancestral bonds. Tankard (1975) argues that sacred language becomes profane when it is used to 'sell' something: advertising "can only be to cheapen the word and to increase distrust between people, because the most sacred words we have are being used to get something from us. Moore (2013) identifies Arabic as the most sacred language, as knowledge and religious practices are inexorably linked within it. ...
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Language, aside from representing the culture of a people, also constructs humankind and humanity. Arabic conceptualizes humanity differently than the world's other languages, such as Indonesian. In Arabic, humans are positioned as subordinate, as dependent on God, whereas in Indonesian they are characterized as autonomous. This article seeks to analyse how language positions humans within their relationships with God, other humans, and nature. Arabic and Indonesian both incorporate implicit concepts of human being, godliness, and humanity, and thus these languages have broad space for defining humanity's relationship with God. This article concludes that Arabic positions humans as creatures whose values and attitudes are dependent on God, while Indonesian positions humans as autonomous and free creatures. The link between Arabic and religion and between Indonesian and culture has informed how these languages conceptualize and position humanity. This study recommends a comprehensive comparative investigation of how various languages position and understand humans and humanity.
This study is the third in a program of research consisting of content analyses of commercial influences in popular cultural products. The first two studies, which looked at the texts of bestselling novels and the scripts of long-running Broadway plays, found dramatic increases in brand-name usage over the course of the postwar period. These results were also found in the third study, which examined the lyrics of the top American song hits of each year for the 1946–1980 period. The consistency of the findings suggests the presence of a new phenomenon which we have called “word-of-author advertising.” The implications of this phenomenon for consumer policies, especially those relating to education and product information programs, are drawn and discussed.
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