Speaking Spanglish correctly

November 14, 2005

A groundbreaking study from the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research examines the correct and incorrect ways of mixing languages with regard to marketing messages. Called 'codeswitching,' language mixing can result in lower ad evaluations when done incorrectly.

"The implications of our results are significant for marketers," explains author David Luna (Baruch College). "Advertising copywriters must be careful to use codeswitching judiciously, making sure that they follow the grammatical rules of language mixing."

Examples of right and wrong may not be clear to some, but they stand out to those consumers who are paying close attention. Using Spanglish as an example, the authors point to the stark contrast between advertising a "nueva house" versus a "house nueva"--the latter being an incorrect use of codeswitching. The authors point out that although there are ever-increasing number of consumers blending into American culture, studies of the phenomenon have been limited until now.

"There is no theoretical framework to evaluate the impact of psycholinguistic factors on the persuasiveness of codeswitched messages," writes Luna. "This article examines the rules that make a particular codeswitched marketing message linguistically correct or incorrect."
Luna, David, Dawn Lerman, and Laura A. Peracchio. "Structural Constraints in Codeswitched Advertising." Journal of Consumer Research, Dec 2005.

University of Chicago Press Journals

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