Tourist Texts and Discourse

Tourist Texts and Discourse

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0142-9.ch002


The designation “tourist texts” includes a wide variety of documents, and in order to set their characteristics it is necessary to study the different authors that have observed and analyzed this field of linguistic research. In this chapter, the authors first complete a study of the existent classifications and the discursive conventions of these texts. They start with the definition and characteristics of tourist texts. Before continuing with a classification of tourist texts, they review some of the controversies, problems, and issues derived from the attempt to classify them. Then, they provide a definition of some of the main texts from the business tourism field such as promotional material from the public and the private sector, informative texts for tourists, and operational texts. Finally, they reflect on tourism discourse, and they study the formal features of tourist texts to set the basis of the practical chapters that will follow in the book.
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Definition And Characteristics Of Tourist Texts

Before going into depth about the features of tourist texts, we will begin by answering the question: what do we understand by tourist text? According to Kelly (1998, p. 35) it is “any text published by a public or private organization of any kind intended a) to give information to any kind of visitor or b) to advertise a destination (city, hotel, restaurant, etc.) and encourage visitors to go there”. This definition focuses on the purpose for which tourist texts are created: to inform, on the one hand, and persuade and convince the tourist or traveler to go to a specific place and enjoy everything it has to offer, on the other. Nobs (1996) also highlights the presence of two functions of language within these texts: the informative or representative and the appellative function. The former would be the one used to give the tourist historic, geographic and climatic data, whereas the latter would be used to put the emotional strategy into motion. This last strategy, according to Nobs (1996), makes often use of expressive and stylistic means and pretends to wake up emotions through the evocation of expected attitudes and wanted scale values. These two functions are fundamental in any tourist text and the predominance of one over the other will depend on the specific text type, because they allow creating a discourse that satisfies the needs of the addressee (the tourist) and the addresser (the public or private organization in charge of writing the texts). In the case of, for instance, traveling catalogues found in travel agencies, the informative function prevails over the appellative one, because in most cases these texts generally describe the characteristics of hotels, hostels and apartments, as well as they include a classification of them. These texts include objectives descriptions in which prices, location and services are offered. This objectivity is achieved through a process that Mocini (2005, p. 158) describes “débrayage” or “shifting-out”.

This process eliminates or reduces textual markers, which are representative for the presence of the addresser, which results in the use of the informative or representative function. This author considers the appellative function as a subjective strategy achieved through the processes of “embrayage” or “shifting-in”, that is, the author includes imperative markers in order to highlight his or her presence in the texts, making himself or herself visible, and at the same type projecting the tourist or reader. We should not forget that non-visual elements such as photographs, the text’s layout, the use of colors, graphs, charts, tables and symbols also play an important role on this type of texts: the phatic function. All in all, despite the fact that each tourist text type has its own main function, in most cases they also present a set of secondary ones.

When trying to establish the features of tourist texts, it seems complicated to clearly list all of them because, as stated by Martínez Motos (2005), tourist texts do not answer to a prototype in the broad sense of the term. However, it is easy to observe a number of characteristics that define them and distinguish them from other text types. One of the most common trades within tourist texts is the inclusion of images, or more generally speaking, of any visual element that helps the reader imagine the destination even before he or she has set foot on the place itself: photographs, colors, catchy fonts and a variety of forms, shapes and sizes which turn these texts into very attractive reading material. Moreover, they frequently present common characteristics depending on the specific text type: a front page with the name of the tourist attraction next to a slogan, descriptions, historic and geographic information, transport, timetables, weather, among many others.

Also, within this group of common factors, in most of these texts we could also include the use of maps, which facilitate the trip or the visit for the traveler or tourist.

Fuentes Luque (2009) presents the characteristics that he considers that both brochures published by public and private institutions should have, with the aim of fulfilling their informative purpose:

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