A Review of Psycho- vs. Socio-Linguistics Theories: An Application to Marketing Research

A Review of Psycho- vs. Socio-Linguistics Theories: An Application to Marketing Research

Juan Miguel Alcántara-Pilar (University of Granada, Spain), Salvador del Barrio-García (University of Granada, Spain), Esmeralda Crespo-Almendros (University of Granada, Spain) and Lucia Porcu (University of Granada, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1793-1.ch001
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This chapter offers an overview of the key socio-psycholinguistic theories and their application to the marketing sphere. Among the models examined, of particular note are the Markedness Model (Myers-Scotton, 1999), the Revised Hierarchical Model (Kroll & Steward, 1994) and the Conceptual Features Model (De Groot, 1992). Examining these three models in particular, we review the key concepts of Code-switching, Cultural Frame-Switching and Foreign Language Display, which have been widely used in the marketing and consumer behavior disciplines. The chapter also puts forward potential future lines of research in linguistics and its application to marketing.
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Intercultural contacts occur when people communicating with each other have different mother tongues, which constitute vehicles for cultural values. According to Lewis, Gary and Fennig (2014), there are currently 7,106 living languages world-wide, spoken by over 6,200 million people as their first language (L1) – albeit just ten languages account for 50% of the world’s population (see Table 1). The three most widely spoken languages used as L1 (that is, the mother tongue) are Chinese, with 1.197 million speakers, Spanish, with 414 million speakers, and English, with 335 million. Notably, some of the languages pertaining to the most powerful countries (taking G8 as a reference) do not feature among the most commonly spoken world-wide. German, for instance, is in 12th place, while French and Italian are in 14th and 21st place, respectively (Lewis et al., 2014). It is also worth noting that the four countries with the greatest volume of commercial exchange world-wide (export and import), namely China, the United States (US), Germany and Japan, speak different languages (WTO, 2013). This means that the economic and commercial relations between these countries and all other countries must rely on a second language, – normally English – although Chinese, German and Japanese also play a key role in international trade. According to Graddol (2000), at the beginning of this decade a total of 750 million people spoke English either as L1 or L2 (second language). In 2014 this figure is estimated to have risen to around 1,370 million (Internet World Stats, 2014). In his work Asian Englishes: Beyond the Canon,Kachru (2005) affirmed that in India and China there were over 500 million people speaking English as a second language (L2).

The phenomenon of the globalization of markets is highlighting the need to use language as a source of competitive advantage. Individuals and organizations that dominate foreign languages will have an advantage in terms of being able to participate in trade and exchange on a world-wide level (Li & Kalyanaraman, 2012; Molinsky, 2007).

Table 1.
Distribution of top 10 world languages by number of first-language speakers
RankingLanguagePrimary countryTotal countriesSpeakers (millions)
3EnglishUnited Kingdom99335
5ArabicSaudi Arabia60237
8RussianRussian Federation16167

Source: Lewis et al. (2014)

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