Romance and Germanic Philology Faculty,Department of English Philology, Yerevan State University, Armenia
The paper aims at studying the linguostylistic and cultural peculiarities of tourism advertisements representing Armenia on social and commercial tourism websites.
On the one hand the texts on tourism sites provide information about different destinations, often complemented by pictures and videos, on the other their main function is persuasion. Our focus is on what linguistic and visual means are used to persuade the customers to buy country brands, and how countries, as culturally marked places, are introduced as brands.
The development of e-tourism is also considered within the framework. It is studied whether the dialogue with the tourism industry changes the attitude of tourists towards the commercials, i.e. the potential tourists; trust in the information provided in the advertisements.
The methodologies of our research are linguostylistic method of analysis and multimodal discourse analysis that help to reveal text, image and video interaction in tourism discourse and the specific linguistic and stylistic means through which the discourse realizes its communicative aims.
The overall conclusion is that textual and visual texts on social tourism sites created by the authentic tourists telling about their real experiences strengthen the impact function and the persuasiveness of the discourse and thus compete with the advertisements on commercial sites vitally changing the potential tourists’ attitudes.
The process of learning about the country begins before the intended travel. The acquisition of knowledge about tourist destinations may be realized through different sources- friends, family, social media, official tourism websites, TV programs about the destination and so on.
Countries are transformed into brands to be advertised and to be purchased. The country brands are greatly connected with the culture and history of the countries and, therefore, with their national identity. Hence, branding a country is a more complicated process than branding a product, given the fact that it should be realised according to various perspectives. First and foremost, countries want to sell their country brands to develop their economy; in this respect, the task is more difficult for small, developing countries like Armenia(is) when compared to such countries as France, Italy, the UK and the US are. The country brands are connected with the reputation of the country, stereotypes about this or that nation and are often designed by professionals to change the stereotypical perception of a certain nation or country via advertisements both linguistically and extralinguistically. With the spread of social sites and special tourism social sites such as tripadvisor, virtualtourist or lonelyplanet the customers may not only book hotels or flights but also may join in forums or write reviews, thus shaping country brands. ‘Conversations, whether a review on tripadvisor, a picture on flickr or an interaction on twitter, drive the informal exchange of thoughts, opinions and feelings between customers who are increasingly listening to each other. Those conversations ultimately shape your brand and, at its most extreme, your brand becomes its reputation online defined through the conversations customers are having about their real brand experiences’ (Munro and Richards, 2011). Fotis et al. write that their study showed that social media are used during all stages of the holiday planning process ( before, during and after holidays) and that information from other travellers on various sites is trusted more than that of official tourism websites and travel agents. The information gained from other travellers has changed the tourists’ plans concerning their future destination or hotel to different extent (2012). Therefore, not only advertisements may persuade the potential tourists to make decisions about their travel but also user-generated content on social sites.
To understand how the commercial and social tourism sites persuade the potential tourists to make choices is possible by discourse analysis. Dann claims that ‘Via static and moving pictures, written texts and audio-visual offerings, the language of tourism attempts to persuade, lure, woo and seduce millions of human beings, and, in so doing, convert them from potential into actual clients - thus, since much of this rhetoric is both logically and temporally prior to any travel or sightseeing, one can legitimately argue that tourism is grounded in discourse’ (1996). According to Fairclough (1995) ‘discourse' is use of language seen as a form of social practice, and discourse analysis is analysis of how texts work within sociocultural practice. Such analysis requires attention to textual form, structure and organization at all levels. The distinction between what is explicit and what is implicit in a text is of considerable importance in sociocultural analysis. Fairclough claims that one cannot properly analyse content without simultaneously analysing form, because contents are always necessarily realized in forms, and different contents entail different forms and vice versa’.
The paper claims to study what linguostylistic tools and photos that complement the advertisements and the reviews are used in tourism discourse to persuade the customer to buy the country brand through the realization of the function of impact.
ADVERTISING THE COUNTRY BRAND ARMENIA
The first advertisement on Armenia to be analysed is from tripadvisor. It is the ad of the site and not a part of a review written by a tourist.
Long fought over by warring empires, the city of Yerevan survived centuries of foreign occupation, finally becoming independent with the fall of the Soviet Union. This capital city, a center of Armenian culture, has celebrated its freedom with a flurry of construction and a growing population. Despite this push forward, history survives in Yerevan - The Institute of Ancient Manuscripts houses books dating back to the 9th century, and the ruins of the Erebuni Fortress, built in 782 BC, still stand. (/http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g293932-Yerevan-Vacations.html/)
This advertisement realizes both intellective (informative) and impact functions. The stratification of functional styles is based on the system suggested by the Russian linguist V. Vinogradov. According to him speech realizes three functions - communicative function, intellective (informative) function and the function of impact (aesthetic function) (Vinogradov, 1963). Considering the passage given above in the light of the theory of speech functions it should be said that firstly, it is a short introduction to the history of Yerevan (informative function), secondly, some word-combinations and collocations serve to interest and persuade the future tourist to buy the country brand which is the ad’s main function, and stylistically it realizes its impact function. Surprisingly, the advertisement is not rich in adjectives intrinsically charged with positive connotation that is peculiar to the language of advertisements. The adjectives found in the ad are the following: long, foreign which have acquired a connotative meaning in the context whereas the attributes capital, Armenian, growing, ancient areneutral. The persuasive function is carried out through the syntagmas which have connotative meaning and are stylistically marked. In the example under consideration the following word-combinations have been detected as connotative and thus tend to be persuasive:
1) Long fought over by warring empires… the phrasal verb fight over has acquired connotative overtones due to the adjective long, which in this context has acquired certain adherent connotative, emotional-evaluative overtone. The combination long fought over changes the informative influence of the phrasal verb and connotatively refers to the dramatic and lasting history of Yerevan and Armenia. The sentence continues in the following way:
2)…the city of Yerevan survived centuries of foreign occupation-Yerevan is the main constituent of personification and metaphorically is transformed into a hero that survived centuries of foreign occupation, the adjective foreign has anegative connotative meaning used with the noun occupation which has a denotative negative meaning if used separately. Two other examples of personification are found in the advertisement. They are the following:
3) This capital city, a center of Armenian culture, has celebrated its freedom with a flurry of construction and growing population. Yerevan is considered to be ahero that celebrates freedom.
4) The third example of personification is found in the last sentence …history survives in Yerevan.
The first visual text (see Figure 1) is the map of Armenia beneath which 13.652 reviews and opinions are written followed by small photo icons: on the left side is an icon on which it is written ‘2.394 candid traveller photos’ that is followed by three other photos: two of them present the Republic Square of Yerevan, one of them shows khachkars (crosstones) and on the last one is written ‘Traveller’s Choice: Tripadvisor’. This clickable icon takes the reader to the page entitled ‘10 destinations on the rise - Asia’, on the 9th place is Yerevan, Armenia.