Thursday, October 3, 2013

Google is such a Google!

Have two addresses, this blog is attached to one, and I'm actually using another. Can I re-attach this blog to the other address? No. And switching between accounts is a bother.

Guess I'll have to start another blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Challenge.

I was to read four hours of Cross-Cultural Communication last Saturday. On my way to the lecture, I had a phone call that informed me, that the professor that was to read Introduction to Language Studies that same day, had an unforseeable emergency and couln't read his lecture. So, I was asked if I could somehow combine 4-year Cross-Cultural Communication and 1-year Introduction to Language Studies, two in one. 

This could be a definition of a professor's nightmare, standing in front of well over a hundred students, freshmen and graduates combined, without a prepared lecture.

It turned out, that I could handle it all right. 

I did it by focusing the lecture on the concepts of "language" and "communication" in general, pointing out the potential problem points for cross-cultural communication in particular as we were passing them by. It was also lucky that both lectures were supposed to be inroductory. But still, I'm sort of proud of myself. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

A new trend in advertising?

Receiving a text message with season's greetings from an outfit whose products or services you have used is routine. That's why they're handing out these discount cards - to have your mobile phone number legally listed in their client base so that they can remind you of their existence before every holiday.

How about getting a text from a company you've never heard of, addressed to a person you never knew, but arriving at your mobile? I have received a couple this December, and so did some of my friends. 

It could be a genuine mistake of course. However, with modern media world, one is bound to get paranoid. What if this is deliberate? It is illegal in most countries to send texts to random people, people who never expressed their contempt to be treated in such a manner. But if the message appears to be misaddressed, it can be a way to get around this obstacle. In other words, can it be  a deliberate advertising attempt? 

Is there a way to check? Of course there is. In speech communication, form is unalienable from content. So, every hidden message or intent of the speaker will invariably be reflected in the text. It happens at times that the text is just too short for the message to show, but if it is there, it will certainly surface if you consider a number of similar texts. On this occasion, I might not have sufficient corpus to collect enough evidence for a serious article, but there's enough to satisfy my personal curiosity.

I've gone through the season's greetings texts on my mobile, and it appears that "real" congratulations, the ones that come from outfits whose discount or club cards can actually be found in my wallet, are just a bit different from the "misaddressed" ones. The former are just signed "NN Ltd", while the latter are not only signed, but also have additional contact information, like "" 

This is what I call "semantic overabundance" - presence of signs that add very little to the meaning of the message. It is one of the marks of persuasive communication, and the place to look for what the authors of the message want you to do. In this case, the "extra" message comes in the form of the source for additional information, the essential part of any advertising text. QED.  

So what they do is they effectively spam you, but can't be held responsible for spamming you. If you complain, they will probably claim that an error has occurred in their customer database, apologize, and offer a discount or a free service to compensate for the inconvenience. That can get you into their shop, which is exactly what advertising is about.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Humpty Dumpty put to shame!

Remember the line from Through The Looking-Glass where Humpty Dumply insists that Alice do the complicated task of substracting 1 out of 365 on the piece of paper? In these lines, Carrol was supposed to have laughed at linguists' alleged helplessness in math. Well, could be true, judging by a college web site I browsed through the other day.  

Here's the "Perfect English Formula" that their English Department think will help them advertise themselves.  

Now, I don't know what does the square root have to do with it. But please note, that the "Enjoy" is in the denominator. Which means, for all you Humpty Dumpties out there, that the more you enjoy, the less you learn. And, vice versa, the less fun you're having in class, the more you're going to know. Enjoyment, in other words, impedes with the success of learning!

I have a weird feeling that it's exactly the opposite of what they were actually trying to say.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The soccer theme continued.

I wrote “I can hardly wait for the Russian National to play another decisive match” the other time, and so they did, the other day, against Slovakia. A win would be as good as a ticket to the Euro Cup finals, a loss – big trouble. What can be more decisive than that?

As a persuasive communication researcher, however, I was slightly disappointed. Apparently, there were no ads filmed specifically for the occasion – nothing more than the general theme ads that could be shown on any channel and occasion, with almost inconspicuous captions signifying that the advertisers were the National’s sponsors or “partners”.  
Maybe this is all because the National’s games are now shown on another TV channel, the only one here that is really owned by the Government in the property point of view, and one that tries to be very serious and less populist.

On the other hand, with all that political activity that is going on currently it’s possible that soccer simply isn’t the first thing that’s on the public’s mind.

Or, it could mean that I’m right and the failures like those I described in that post the other time really hurt the advertisers’ business, and the account ledgers thereof testified thereto. 

What with all that, the initial disappointment was that, without any advertising, there was no way to make a prognosis. Or was there? As one of the rules of semiotics says, the absence of a sign in a position that dictates the use of a sign is a sign in itself. The deliberate decision not to play the tune of the National Soccer Struggle would mean, I reasoned, that the issue was perceived as too serious to be dishonored by using it as a joke or a vehicle for an advertising message. I figured that meant the National was likely to win. And guess what – they did!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Teacher's rant.

Textbook fail.

The module we have to cover at my next ESL classes is based on the Friends TV Series. Lucky me. Friends are virtually unknown here. I did try to watch a few episodes, but couldn't sit them to the end; all I can remember it's about a bunch of people from NY who for reasons unknown spend their lifetimes sitting on a sofa and talking to each other.

Maybe two or three students will be able to carry on the initial speaking exercises, but the rest are going to go "Erm... the who?". I've got to figure out a way to get around that.

And that's going to be a demonstration lesson, of all times!

There are two reasons why I hate "authentic" ESL textbooks, and that's the second.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Unexpected observation.

The stylistic qualities and hidden messages of a text are never more obvious and easily described as when the description is in another language.

I ought to write an article about that.