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Asian Englishes. An International Journal of the Sociolinguistics
of English in Asia/Pacific. 2012. Vol. 15, No.2. P. 30-59.
English and Asian Flavor in Russian Advertising of the Far East
Abstract: Glocalization of English in the Russian sociolinguistic setting can be observed in
advertising that has been booming in Russia since the Iron Curtain fall. Many features of Russian ads –
structural, semantic, and functional – have been influenced by English. In Asian Russia, advertising also
bears traces of cultural influence of the neighboring countries, which makes it more colorful and distinctive.
Formally, English influence is observed in a number of ways, from employing words and sentences in this
language to code-mixing including shift of letters and word switching. The semantic analysis has revealed a
change of meaning of some English key words used in Russian ads. The functional role of English is in its
association with internationalism, modernization, innovation, prestige, creativity, and fun. English words
used in ads are often helpful in the English language teaching and learning. At the same time, the functional
analysis has revealed dynamics of Russian cultural values.
In the Russian Federation, English falls under the category of the Expanding Circle countries
(Kachru, 1985), which means it is a performance variety. English does not have an official status on
the entire vast territory of the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the high tides of Russian-English
cultural contacts are obvious in the 21st century and in some Asian parts of Russia English plays a
distinguished role.
Russian Federation has never been a monolingual country. It comprises 21 ethnic republics,
which include over 150 ethnic groups with their own indigenous languages. The Asian part of
Russia is traditionally divided into Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, and the Russian Far East. The
Russian Far East stretches from Amur Oblast, with the administrative center of Blagoveschensk,
and Yakut-Sakha Republic in the west to Chukotsky Automous Area (Anadyr, administrative
center) in the east, including Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Birobidjan), Khabarovsky Krai,
Primorsky Krai (Vladivostok), Sakhalinskaya Oblast (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Magadanskaya Oblast,
Koryak Autonomous Area (recently united with Kamchatskaya Oblast), and Kamchatskaya Oblast
(Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky). The last three administrative divisions are referred to as the Far
The Russian Federation Law of 1991 proclaimed Russian as the national language on the
territory of the Russian Federation, but the subjects of this Federation, many of which are located in
the Asian part of Russia, such as Altay, Tyva, Yakutia, have the right to declare their ethnic
languages as official on their territory. In this respect, the linguistic situation in the Yakut-Sakha
Autonomous Republic is unique. It is characterized by the interaction of two national languages
(Russian and Yakut), five official languages (Even, Evenk, Yukagir, Chukchi, and Dolgan), and one
working language (English) (Samsonov, 2003). This region of the Russian Federation is rich in
diamond deposits with the potential of exporting its resources to the Western world. The use of
English is necessary due to the increase in cross-cultural communication between speakers of
different languages, adoption of advanced technologies, and creation of a multilingual work force
that meets international standards. English has become a mandatory language for instruction at
schools there, and the English language lessons are provided for the staff of Yakut ministries and
offices (Zharikov, 2001; Ustinova, 2005).
The intensive Russian-American contacts in the Russian Far East started already in the 19th
century. With Russia’s expanding her territories and founding new outposts and cities, there was a
need in new money and energy, trade and industries. Far Eastern cities, or ‘frontier towns’
(Ingemanson, 2005: 94) were open to international companies, including American and Australian
Business contacts with the Americans are much more intensive in Asian Russia than business
contacts with the British, so interest in American English is prevalent to that in British English.
What is more, Russian Far East has extended economic ties with China, Korea and Japan nowadays,
and English as a lingua franca is widely used there in business situations as a means of
communication between non-native English speakers. The neighboring Asian countries’ education
also focuses on American English, so it is easier to understand Asian English speakers when
following the same model of English. There is also an opinion among Russian students that
American English is ‘easier’ and ‘simpler’ than British English because it is the language of diverse
immigrants who adapted it to their needs (Proshina, 2006).
Studies on Russian Advertising
One of the main domains of most intensive English-Russian contacts is advertizing that, no
doubt, was stimulated in Russia by the process in the English speaking countries. Russian
advertising studies have been conducted from different perspectives: extra-linguistic, such as
history of advertising in Russia, similarities and differences in concepts, values and beliefs of
Russians and Westerners towards advertising, and linguistic surveys, which explore various
language issues. The title of Gary Burandt’s and Nancy Giges’ book Moscow meets Madison
Avenue: the Adventures of the First American Adman in the U.S.S.R. speaks for itself. It describes a
personal experience of a Western ad professional who came to Russia in 1989 to establish
connections and start cooperation with the Soviet advertising agencies. At that time American
admen saw ‘a rudimentary understanding of how to sell products with communications’ in Moscow
(Burandt’& Giges, 1992, p.11). In their article Testing the Cross-National Applicability of U.S. and
Russian Advertising Belief and Attitude Measures Andrew Craig, Durvasula Srinivas and Richard
Netemeyer (1994) demonstrate the procedures for testing the cross-national equivalence of
advertising belief and attitudes in general and then apply their technique toward comparison of
these issues between Russians and Americans. According to the results of the test, Russian
respondents exhibited more favorable beliefs toward the advertising in general and social effect of
advertising, while Americans felt it resulted in negative social effects. The positive results of
Russian respondents’ views on advertising were explained by the fact that Russians consider it as a
necessary part of the change to market-driven economy and an opportunity to help improve it
(Craig et al., 1994, p.81). However, the results of polls conducted by the Russian statistics agencies
in the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century reveal that the majority of
Russians have negative attitudes toward advertising nowadays. The discrepancy between the results
of Craig’s research and the statistics of Russian polls can be probably explained by the fact that the
data from only 64 Russian University business students were analyzed by Craig, and they are not
the representatives of population with different social and educational status. The social value of
advertising is not obvious to the majority of Russian adult readership and viewship who consider
advertising as an annoying phenomenon regardless of the rapid advertising market growth (see
Ustinova 2006 for details). According to the Gallup media statistics, only 1.8 % of the adult
population, who reside in cities with the population of more than one hundred thousand people, like
TV commercials very much, 27.7 % like them in general, and 70 % do not like them at all (Aclub,
2002). The decrease of trust in advertisements is obvious: 51 % of the respondents in 1996, and
only 31 % in 2000 answered positively to the question whether TV commercials serve as a reliable
source of information about goods and food. 30% of the respondents agreed, and 62 % disagreed in
1996, while 24 % agreed and 69 % disagreed in 2000 with the statement that ‘TV commercials help
consumers to choose the right product’ (VTSIOM, 2002).
Ludmilla Wells-Gricenko conducted interviews with Russian government officials, business
and advertising industry professionals, professors and students in Moscow in 1991. In her article
Western Concepts, Russian Perspectives: Meaning of Advertising in the Former Soviet Union
(1994), she argues that Western firms should consider the concept of advertising as cultural
communication, and not neglect Russian perspectives on advertising, as the influence of Russian
culture on Russian advertising is enormous. However, Russian culture and Russian advertisement
get more and more influenced by new-coming, mostly American, values brought in Russia through
various means, especially mass media. The renowned Russian linguist Vitaliy Kostomarov (2005)
argues that advertisement is the most aggressive type of mass communication. He draws attention
to change of word meanings in ads due to their pathological thirst for expressiveness, which means
that ads are active in changing national language semantics.
The increased role of advertising in Russian community is traced in intensified interest in this
socio-linguistic phenomenon. The turn of the 21st century is marked by the increase of a number of
defended dissertations on advertisement. A linguopragmatic survey of manipulative tactics used by
advertisers is presented in the dissertation by Elena Popova (2006). Using symbols in ads is proved
to be one of the widely used ways of manipulating and persuading (Sychova, 2008).
Researchers stress the syncretic character of ad texts, the feature termed as creolized text
(Anisimova, 2003), which implies using all sorts of semiotic means – pictorial, textual, musical,
vocal, even sensory – to reach the goal intended by an ad. For example, more and more often we
come across the heart-sign ♥ in place of the verb “love”: I ♥ New York. Я ♥ Москву (I ♥ Moscow).
In one of the Moscow ads of the Russian car Lada, the car image is introduced in the middle of the
word: Пора обLADAть.
Nina Scherbina (2002) focused her dissertation research on the correlation between language
and culture as manifested in ads. Each nation has its own ways of persuasion, determined by
culture. The specificity of culture-loaded devices makes the ads difficult to translate. The
correlation between language and culture, typical of ads, as well as their intertextuality turn ads into
an authentic material available and productive for learning language and culture (Kwon Sun Man,
2006). Gender and linguacultural aspects of advertisement are discussed in the dissertations by
Olga Karimova (2006) and Alexandra Belikova (2007). The analysis of ads in intercultural
communication is conducted by E. Medvedeva (2004), while regional mass media means of
producing persuasive effect, called ‘stoppers,’ are investigated by Larisa Kopreva (2007), who
emphasizes the role of English borrowings in South Russian ads, and Anton Skakodub (2007).
Some other publications discuss the language issues of Russian advertising. In the article by
Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (1996), published in the USA, the elements of persuasion in the language
of Russian TV advertisements in 1993-1995 are observed. The study examines some of the most
regular linguistic mechanisms of persuasion in ads, among them the usage of first and second
person plural forms of pronouns and verbs, rhetorical questions, imperative verb forms, praising the
products by using adjectives and creating intimacy with addressees with the help of colloquial
expressions. A substantial number of works on advertising language were published in Russia,
which made it possible for Oksana Ksenzenko to determine and describe a new branch of
linguistics – Advertisement Linguistic Studies (Ksenzenko 2011). Kwon Sun Man (2006) singles
out three main types of key words used in Russian ads. From the morphological aspect, these types
are represented by verb texts adding dynamics to the ad; noun texts producing the impression of
stability and invariability, and adjective texts stressing the quality of advertised products. Specific
syntactic features (parallel and detached parts, parenthetical words, comparative phrases and
elliptical structures) facilitate laconism and capaciousness of ad sentences. Imperative sentences
expressing joint action reduce categorical inducement of utterances. Stylistic analysis reveals traces
of various registers in ad texts, addressing them to customers of various social groups. In terms of
lexis, ads can include Russian culture-loaded words (supermarkets Avos’ka [String-bag], Kopeika;
restaurants Kucher [Coachman], Samovar) and allusions, such as names of pictures by famous
Russian artists, geographical names connected with outstanding Russian poets, musicians and other
historical and public figures (restaurants Valeriy Bryusov, Yermak, cafes Boldino, Graf [Count]
Suvorov, Graf Tolstoy, entertainment center Rasputin).
In the synopsis of the dissertation by Oleg Dmitriev Structural and Semantic Characteristics
of a Slogan as an Advertising Text Component (2000), the comparative analysis of American and
Russian print slogans is done, and the syntactical structures of Russian slogans are described. Yulia
Gaponova’s dissertation Means of Expressing Modal Meanings in Printed Ads (2007) proves that
ad discourse is characterized by cohesion, which means it can be rightfully regarded as text
produced in marketing communication and consisting of both verbal and non-verbal components.
In her opinion, advertisement gravitates towards myth as ‘belief without reasoning’ (Gaponova,
2007, p. 12) and replicates its structure and functions. Ad myth activates the model of possibilities
in the minds of interested customers and stimulates their necessity to act (buy). Comparison of
advertisement and myth is also done in the dissertations by Roman Torichko (2003) and Larisa
Geraschenko (2006). Geraschenko highlights the idea that myth is able to form a positive
worldview of a person, which is so important for advertisement. Mythological nature of
advertisement supports a system of values, conserves stereotypes and images, symbolically models
the natural and social world, and stabilizes emotional state of a person.
In her dissertation research, Ludmila Amiri (2007) describes the ‘carnaval nature’ (Amiri,
2007, p. 3) of advertisement, observed in employing language game and play and testifying to the
creativity of ads. Language game is defined as conscientious experiment oriented towards
creativity, purposeful destruction of a stereotype, language form and function typical of a norm of a
certain language community. In ads language game is used to intensify expressiveness of the text so
that it might facilitate selling a certain product or service. She analyzes language games on
phonetic, graphical, morphological, and word-building levels. Amiri argues that Russian and
American ads have a lot of parallel devices, which testifies to advertisement internationalization,
which results from the English language impact and the influence of Western, especially American,
Various genres of advertisement texts are described: magazine ads (Belikova, 2007),
newspaper ads (Brovkina, 2000, Manianin, 2007), TV commercials (Kornilova, 2002, Ustinova,
2010; 2011), and radio commercials (Strel’nikova, 2006).
Irina Ustinova’s and Tej Bhatia’s study ‘Convergence of English in Russian TV commercials’
(2005) is based on the data gathered in 1998-2005. According to the authors, the presence of
English and English-Russian mix as the main source of linguistic creativity is a salient feature of
Russian TV commercials. The multiple language mixing is observed in three types of TV
advertisements, such as social, service, and commercials in ‘English and Emerging Advertising in
Russia’ (Ustinova 2006). The article ‘English and American Culture Appeal in Russian
Advertising’ (Ustinova, 2008) proposes that Russian advertising discourse offers prospective for
examining changes in Russian language and culture in the context of globalization. It focuses on the
use of English in Russian advertising with an analysis of code-mixed samples drawn from print,
Internet and TV advertisements. Also, the age-specific ads reveal the possible ongoing changes of
Russian ethnolinguistic identity.
English in Advertising in Far Eastern Russia
Russian perestroika took off many locks and opened many gates. One of the gates was to
access of foreign goods onto the Russian market. Together with goods came their advertisements
intended for an international customer and, therefore, written in English. Before perestroika,
advertising of Russian governmental products, with no competition, hardly existed at all. In the
Soviet time, the newspapers and TV channels were owned and sponsored by the government; as a
result, the wall and print ads were very rare, and TV programs were never interrupted by the
commercials. The absence of ads ‘struck visitors from capitalist countries very forcibly: bare walls in
metro stations, unbroken print in newspapers, mail deliveries without circulars’ (Cook, 1992, p. 15).
Advertising as an industry in modern Russia appeared as a real force only at the end of 1980sbeginning of 1990s, after the acquisition of private property, joint ventures, small business, and
direct negotiations for products were allowed (Ustinova, 2006). After perestroika, streets got
‘decorated’ with advertising billboards and overhead streamers; ads appeared in newspapers and
magazines; TV programs began to get interrupted by commercials. According to the research data,
63 % of Russian TV advertisements are carried out with the use of English (Ustinova, 2006). One of
the salient features of today’s Russian cities is a ‘change of speech clothes’ (Kitaigorodskaya, 2003,
p. 149), the trend of using new names typical of the periods of drastic social transformations. Using
other languages is one of the ways to actualize this trend, and English is, no doubt, a dominant
language among other languages. Today English is used for promoting not only imported products
and companies but also domestic ones because it is associated with prestige, glamour, and success.
Ads as ‘texts of minor form’ (Kitaigorodskaya, 2003, p. 149) with English-Russian codemixing have become ‘a vehicle for the import of scores of Western words including brand names
and words with Russian equivalents that are used because they sound “Western”’ (Murray, 1994, p.
99). Many Russian scholars, legislative and executive institutions got concerned with the inundating
flow of English words. The members of the Governmental Council on the Russian language under
the auspices of the former President Vladimir Putin warn that the Russian language is evolving out
of control and could be inundated by a wave of foreign borrowings and aggressive Americanization
(Weir, 2002). There were attempts to issue language policy regulations on the use of foreignisms,
which were strict enough in Moscow, the capital city, whose former mayor Yuri Luzhkov tried to
prohibit slogans and labels in foreign languages (Ustinova, 2006). However, the farther from the
capital, the less strict observation of the regulations was noticed, so in the Russian Far East
bilingual ads and ads with code-switching continued to thrive and develop. Moreover, the material
found in Asian Russia manifests conglomeration of not only Russian-English mix, but also a certain
flavor of Asian languages and cultures. This makes us analyze the material in the aspect of language
and culture contacts.
In this paper we first analyze the structural dimension of English-Russian language mix on the
levels of words, sentences and phrases in outdoor and print advertisements found in Vladivostok,
Nakhodka, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure (Russian Far East), and then look into semantics
of English used in ads, and, finally, discuss the functional aspect of English use. Our data include
about 500 samples of outdoor advertising signs, billboards and overhead streamers, as well as 100
ads from magazines and newspapers, published in the Russian Far East, that are widely circulating
among the general public.
Structural analysis
Two large categories are usually identified in ads: display, where the elements are set in larger
sizes to attract the reader’s attention and body copy or the text (Wells at al, 1998, p. 460). These
elements can be further subdivided into structural components, such as headline, sub-header,
caption or attention getter, body, slogan, product name, company name or logo, wrappers or labels,
pricing and availability, producer of goods, contact information (address and telephone/fax), target
consumer and proof of certification or registration (Bhatia, 2000, p. 201-202; Ustinova, 2008).
English or an English-Russian mix is utilized in nearly all structural components in the layout
of Russian ads. The name of the product and/or company is a must in the layout of an ad. It occurs
in written forms as a brand name, as an element on a label, within the text of the body, wrapper or a
slogan. English names present both international and local producer-companies and sellercompanies, as well as various service companies.
 The name of the company-producer and/or a brand name of the product
According to our data, this component ranks second in frequency of English words that are
used in the Russian Far Eastern ads (10 % of all English-bearing inscriptions) (Proshina,
Kubritskaya, Sergeyeva 2008). Even words which do not come originally from English look like
English loans due to their Roman script: for example, Japanese Sony or Korean Samsung (the latter
meaning literally “three stars,” but often misinterpreted as the Biblical hero Samson). Russian
producing companies sometimes take Englishized names: e.g., the company producing windows
Фабрика окон VEKA (=Window Manufacturer VEKA, i.e. Window Manufacturer of the Century );
furniture factory SalvaDoor. English names make an ad more catchy and it attracts a customer.
The name of the firm – seller of the product, and/or a store
Commercial organizations are the most frequent users of English (75 % of all the ads in
English). Among them a variety of shops, studios, agencies and centers can be found:
- shops that sell cosmetics (Charmzone, Косметик-City = Cosmetic-City),
decorations (Art Fashion Gallery), clothes (Dress Code, Jokey Jeans, Earth Gear,
FROGGI), and footwear (Respect yourself, Step);
- food shops and supermarkets: Pacific, Red Mart;
- shops selling equipment (domestic and office equipment, computers, mobile
telephones, etc): Plasma Hall, Digital Hall, Sony Hall, Treasure Island;
- computer service centers: GLOBAL SERVICE;
- car service: Pole Position Bridgestone, Auto Oasis, Car, Сити Моторз (= City
Motors), Hummer; carwash Paradise;
- furniture shops and interior design studios: Paradise, Lux Décor, ЯRus;
- catering centers: Sandwich Time, Allegro Food, Allegro Pub, Magic Burger,
Pizza M, Чайна Таун (= China town)
- entertainment clubs: Dancehouse, Fantasy Land, Q-zar, Down Town, Kento’s,
Military, Yellow Submarine, casinos Royal Park, Ace, movie theaters New Wave cinema,
People’s cinema;
- health clubs (Fitness Club, Атлетик Сити = Athletic City, Фитнес Лайф =
Fitness Life), beauty salons (Studio Beauty, Эстетик Холл = Aesthetic Hall, Александр
Тодчук Студио = Alexander Todchuk Studio),
- dental centers (Дентал Клиник = Dental Clinic, Джордж Дентал Групп = George
Dental Group);
- photo studios: Смайл = Smile;
- travel agencies Pacific Line, Pacific Tourservice, Влад Трэк = Vlad(ivostok) Track,
Дальинтур Траст = DalInTour Trust, Старвинд Виза = Starwind Visa, Спутник-Тревел
= Sputnik-Travel;
- hotels: VladMotor Inn, ACFES-Seyo, Story;
- match-making agencies: SUNRISE, New Life;
- building materials:
Jonnesway, Вуд-мастер = Wood-master, ELITE-СТРОЙ –
Elite-Structure, Тайгер = Tiger;
- banks: Trust, Саммит Банк = Summit Bank; auditing companies: ADVISER,
КамчатПрофитБанк = KamchatProfitBank, etc.;
- fish-selling companies: Фиш-сервис = Fish-service;
- transportation: Taxi-Клаксон = Taxi-Klaxon, VIP-авто = VIP-auto, Юнайтед =
- employment centers: Пасифик скай = Pacific sky, Континент-Групп = Continent
- advertisement agencies: PR-factory, P & I; НАХОДКА МЕДИА ГРУПП =
Nakhodka Media Group.
Company names are represented mostly by nouns or noun groups (SWAN, Funny angels,
Бубль-гум = Booble gum), frequently by male or female anthroponyms (Cecily, Jessica; OSCAR,
Gregory), mythonyms: Apollo, Vesta, Venus. Abbreviations and shortenings are not infrequent,
especially for official business establishments, like banks (PRIMSOTSBANK – shortening of the
Russian “PRIMorsky SOTSial’nyi BANK” = “Primorye Social Bank”). There are compound nouns
transcribed in Cyrillic from English: стейк-ресторан (= steak-restaurant), Фиш-сервис = Fishservice, арт-кафе = art-café, with the first component specifying the type of the establishment
expressed by the second component. The number of phrases consisting of an attributive noun in
preposition to another noun is mushrooming: Евродизайн Маркет (Euro-design Market),
Континент-Групп (Continent Group), master service, Dream World, Foot Land. In this
phenomenon some linguists see an English transfer that causes changes to Russian syntax, which
normally requires an adjectival attribute (cf. офис-менеджер = ‘office manager’ vs. офисный
менеджер = Adj + N ‘a manager who works in the office’) (Aitmukhametova, 2000).
English adjectives are also used for naming, though for many Russians they sound as nouns,
since they do not end in vowels like Russian adjectives and are written in Cyrillic: Элегант =
Elegant (clothes shop), ГРАНД = Grand (footwear shop), Фаст = Fast (building company). Verbs,
though rarely, are also encountered, mostly those that have conversion relation with nouns: MOVE
(advertising agency), Ride (car service center).
Body text
Body text plays a very important role in a display because it identifies the product and makes
the point of the message. English is seldom used for describing goods, its benefits, application, and
so on. This component makes up only 6 % of all English-language material in Russian Far Eastern
advertisement. Preference is given to Russian as the national language, which is quite
understandable. However, there occur ad texts written in English only (intended for foreign guests)
or English-Russian mixture: ‘Аренда: renting apartments for foreigners’; work time: 8-21, out of
holidays’; ‘Laura – kid’s boutique, D&G Junior, Guess, Miss Blumarine, Parrot, Moschino Junior’
- kid clothes store ad; ‘Samsung Computer IP Student’ – computer ad; ‘Salamander city lady
marathon sportive’ – footwear store ad.
Some of these texts contain non-grammatical structures (out of holidays = ‘no days off’) and
newly coined words (sportive), which might be explained by a low level of English command of
these ad compilers.
In most ads, body texts are made in Russian with a few words of general character (product
names, function terms, etc) inserted in English – for example, the following TV ad: «плазменные и
LCD телевизоры LG с функцией Time Machine» (plasma and LCD TV sets LG with the function
of Time Machine). Transplanted (Romanized) English names of this type, without translation, can
make a considerable part of a Russian text: e.g.,
специальный продукт DIP3 для двигателей с непосредственным впрыском,
разработанный для Mitsubishi GDI, Toyota SIDI, VW/Audi/Seal/Skoda FSI, Nissan,
BMW, Alta Romeo, Renault IDE. Данные системы очень чувствительны к качеству
топлива. Продукт Wynn’s DIP3 Liguid и DIP3 Aerosol предназначены для
межсервисного использования с целью поддержания в чистоте топливных систем
(AG Автогид. [Autoguide: magazine for car fans.] Vladivostok, 2007, № 8 (40), с. 51)
Among the newly designed gadgets of Wynn’s company it is worth highlighting a
specialized product DIP3 for the engines with direct injection, developed for Mitsubishi
GDI, Toyota SIDI, VW/Audi/Seal/Skoda FSI, Nissan, BMW, Alta Romeo, Renault IDE.
Products such as Wynn’s DIP3 Liguid and DIP3 Aerosol are intended for the interservice use in order to maintain the fuel systems clean.
About 4 % of all the ads from our data contain English-language slogans. Slogan is a phrase
or sentence with a complete meaning. Usually it is a laconic structure that may use rhyme, rhythm,
alliteration, or pun to become memorable (Local touch, Global Brand - for computer ‘Acer’).
Some slogans are registered trademarks; that is why they are not translated into national
languages. Slogans like ‘Ideas for life’ (Panasonic), ‘’ (Sony), ‘It’s different’
(Pantech), ‘United colors of Benetton’ (Benetton), ‘Thinking of you’ (Electrolux) are well-known all
over the world, for they belong to transnational companies. English slogans are also invented by
local companies and stores: ‘Keep it simple’ (store), ‘Digital & Mobile’ (mobile phone chain), ‘You
and only you’ (clothes store Glance), ‘From appearance to protagonist’ (clothes store Take Two),
‘Create your home’ (store Boomerang).
English in the closing lines, headers or attention getters
These structural components reinforce the advertising message and also serve as a marker of
prestige; thus, the expensive electronic, perfume and home appliances are targeted at the uppermiddle class Russians who are expected to be educated and proficient in English. 6 % of outdoor
ads with English elements in our data contain English in headers and closing lines: ‘Pioneer
London’ (clothes store Podium), ‘Finely Selected Specialty Tea’ (tea Greenfield), ‘Kid’s Clothing
Company’ (kid clothes store Pampolina); ‘Cash and carry’ (kid supermarket Бубль-Гум = Booble
Gum), ‘Funny Things From All The World’ (shop Кукабарра = Kukabarra) and others.
Additional information about the products and price
In contact information, the address, telephone, and directions are usually in Russian, but the
web and email addresses are always in Roman script as English is the global language of the
The mentioning of the country-producer is an indicator of a product’s high quality as several
stereotypes about the products exist. The best electronic appliances and cars are made in Japan and
Korea; the best perfume – in France, the best chocolate or dairy products – in Russia. The country
or the city–manufacturers can be written both in Roman and Cyrillic: Paris-Париж, JapanЯпония.
Mixing of scripts
In advertising discourse in Russia, both Cyrillic and Roman scripts are used in
presenting English or English-looking words (see also, Ustinova 2008; 2011). In the Russian
Far Eastern ads, the use or imitation of East Asian scripts together with Cyrillic and Roman
scripts, is a noticeable phenomenon. The following physical manifestation patterns can be
revealed and presented in the Russian Far Eastern ads.
English in Roman letters
English in Roman letters is dominant in the brand names of the world famous products
and their companies: Honda, Toyota, Sony, Dirol, Clean and Clear, etc. Sometimes the
brand-name has a transparent or ‘speaking for itself character’ in English that is lost in a
Russian ad and the meaning can be deciphered only by bilinguals: e.g., Fairy (dish detergent);
INCITY (dress shop). Company names, especially names of stores, employ English words as a
symbol of prestige: e.g., clothes stores Dress Code, Symbol, travel agency Double Step
Travel. English names may carry traces of Russian English, like the name of a footwear shop
in Komsomolsk: AirStep Обувь, which is influenced by the Russian metaphorical collocation
воздушная походка (vozdushnaya pokhodka, i.e very light step as if walking on the air, not
ground.) As though intended primarily for international customers, some shops and
restaurants hang out inscriptions in English: Open / Closed in letters far larger than those of
the corresponding words in Russian. Simulating McDonalds, a café in Komsomolsk warns its
customers: No smoking, and its disposal cups have inscriptions: Soup to go.
English words phonetically transcribed in Cyrillic
This type of physical manifestation is becoming very popular, especially in the promotion of
those Western or Asian products that are already well-known on the Russian market. The consumer
gets used to the products and their brand names do not seem foreign any more as they are written in
a familiar Cyrillic script: Кока Кола (Coca-Cola), Пепси (Pepsi), Брук-Бонд (Brook Bond).
English names of companies written in Cyrillic script can be read by all Russian customers,
imposing on them an exotic atmosphere of far-away countries, making the impression of
international participation in these businesses and thus emphasizing the company’s reliability: e.g.,
insurance company «Даск» (Dusk), beauty salon «Бьюти Лайф» (Beauty Life), ship service
agency «Старфиш» (Starfish), shipment company «Вл Лоджистик» (Vl. Logistic), computer
store «Грин Лайт» (Green Light); computer service «Креатив Саунд» (Creative Sound), door
manufacturer Дорз (Doors).
Cyrillicized English occurs in headers welcoming clients: for example, in Komsomolsk-naAmure, Kyokushinkai Karate Center greets the customers by listing services provided by the center
(Plate 1) (on the right is our translation, not seen by the Center customers, the word in bold type is
Лечебный массаж
Универсальные тренажеры
Беговые дорожки
Medicinal massage
Universal simulator equipment
Running tracks
Exercise bicycles
This pattern may present an obstacle to customers’ intelligibility because the foreign words
that contain some meaningful information make no sense to monolingual Russians. However, in the
ads for young Russians with proficient English and computer skills, English words are exported into
Russian in Cyrillic script with some phonological adjustments but without translation. When
learning English, students will say that one of the benefits of ads is the use of English words in
them, which stick in their memories and thus facilitate their learning English.
English in Roman, and Russian translated equivalent in Cyrillic
English phrases can be exactly or loosely translated into Russian: Stain Erase - удаление
пятен, Easy Iron - легкая глажка; Riga Soap Manufacture. Косметика ручной работы.
‘Мыльный бутик’ (= Riga Soap Manufacture. Handmade make-up. ‘Soap Boutique’).
English in Roman, Russian in Cyrillic, and Asian languages in Chinese or Japanese
This is a peculiar feature of the Russian Far Eastern ads, where three languages and scripts
are combined together; e.g. ‘Welcome to Vladivostok’ phrase is produced in three languages,
English, Russian and Mandarin Chinese, on a page advertising the Gavan hotel. (Plate 2).
Pseudo-English in Roman characters
Russian words are transcribed in Roman script as if they belonged to English: store «Shik &
Blesk» (= Style and Glamour), cosmetics store «Zaichiki» (= Little Rabbits), print shop «Platina»
(= Platinum), clothes store «Just Moda» (= Just Fashion) and others. In this type of English
manifestation, the languages do not switch, but the scripts do. Some of these are pseudo-English
words sound similar in nearly all European languages as they share the same Greek or Latin origin,
e.g., the words in the Russian ads Pharaon and Pantera are replicas of the English words with the
same Indo-European stems but different spellings, Pharaoh and Panther.
Mixture of Roman and Cyrillic letters in Russian words
Roman and Cyrillic letters that correspond to similar sounds can me mixed, which seems to
be a new trend in Russian advertising (Petrova, Chekmez, 2007): СлаDкие Dетки (store for kids; =
Sweet Kids), Умный Dом (furniture store; = Clever House); Кульt Личносtи (= Cult of
Personality), ПАРАD (= Parade) (clothes stores), ДивиZион (electronic appliance store; =
Division), Аргументы неделI (newspaper; = Arguments of the Week), ОКЕАN (night club; =
Due to mixture of word parts, word hybrids are coined: ИллюZION (movie theater; =
Illusion), СтройSET (building materials store; = BuildSET), ЮнITEL (cello phones shop; =
UnITEL). Quite productive is the combination of the suffix –off with a noun stem, which makes an
impression of an old emigrant family name: Блинoff (café; = BlinOFF = ‘Pancake’ + -off ),
СоколOFF (window-producing company; = SokolOFF < Sokolov, a frequently occurred Russian
family name).
Combination of Russian and English words
The Russian name of a flower shop «Цветы» is too trivial. To make it differentiated, the
owners of the shops added the English word New цветы (= New Flowers). This kind of
combination can be a pun, with two meanings: e.g., MORE купальников can be read as ‘Sea of
bathing suits’ meaning their great diversity, as the word MORE can be taken for the transliterated
Russian word МОРЕ ‘sea’. Bilinguals, however, can read it literally ‘more bathing suits’. So this is
a way to play upon scripts.
Substitution of a word or its part with a symbol or figure
This trend has come to Russia from the United States and has developed under the influence
of email correspondence: Shoes 4 you (footwear shop); Port@lux (electronics store), V & V (clothes
shop for teenagers); ¥€$! Кредиты малому бизнесу [= Bank loans to small business] – the first
element (“yes”) is made up of foreign currency symbols: Japanese yen, Euro, and US dollar. The &symbol is often used in the decorative function: A & T TRADE (equipment), P & I (ad agency), etc.
These ways of expression have a double function: they express the phrase laconically, on the one
hand, and on the other, attract the customers’ attention to the ad.
Artistic highlighting of a word part
Part of a word can be colored differently; letters applied of different size and form, some of
them reminding of other, non-European scripts. This makes the signs expressive, original and
imaginative, e.g., we can see it in the shop sign Nonsense (Plate 3), which for a bilingual may seem
meaningless, yet attracting the eye.
Special attention should be paid to deviations observed in English or English-like words in
Russian advertising. Part of the deviations (rather errors) are accounted for by a low level of ad
people‘s knowledge of English. In another part, deviations are made on purpose, in order to catch a
reader’s eye. Purposeful deviations from spelling norms, aimed to attract the customers’ attention,
reveal the following trends:
unusual division of a word: INTER TERMINAL < interterminal
(customs storing service);
one-worded or hyphenated phrases: Best-service (transporting goods);
Wildroses (flower shop); Incity (clothes shop), orientwind (gift shop); Freshstyle
(clothes store);
replacement of graphemes: Xasia-motors - ex>x (car service);
BeautiWorld - y>i (cosmetics shop);
using only capital or small letters: SWAN
(dressmaking shop),
БАТТЕРФЛЯЙ (BUTTERFLY, cosmetics store), sweet mama (clothes for wouldbe mothers);
using capital letters in the middle of a word: ArtLine interior (design
studio), DoorHan (production of doors, gates, and locks);
using capital letters in a part of the word: ЭКОлоджик (ECOlogic;
car service), БЭСТ-Партнер (BEST-Partner, computer equipment service);
newly coined abbreviations: BGI (employment agency) < Big Group
Innovative; LVS (advertising group) < Laser Video System.
According to the research (Amiri, 2007), deviations made at will are becoming a
characteristic feature of ads. Interestingly, the research of English-language company names and
trademarks of Japanese origin, conducted by I. Krykova (2004), has revealed similar devices:
separate or hyphenated parts of a word (TRANS GENIC INC., BULL-DOG SAUCE CO.,LTD); oneworded phrases (MYSTAR ENGINEERING CORP, Townace Toyota); dropping letters (Stepwgn
Honda) < ‘step’ + ‘wagon’, Hiace Toyota < ‘high’ + ‘ace’); capitalized letters inside a word
(DesignEXchange Co.,Ltd.; eAccess Ltd.); small letters instead of capital ones in the beginning of a
word (transcosmos inc.); replacement of letters (k>c Cami Toyota < Jap. ‘kami’; i>y Infiniti
Nissan); adding letters and thus coining new words (Cresta Toyota < ‘crest’; Corolla Runx Toyota
< ‘run’; Vivio Fuji < ‘vivid’ ); sound-imitating combinations of letters (bB Toyota – the sound of a
car klaxon); word shortenings (SONY CORPORATION < Lat. ‘sonus’ «звук» + Eng. ‘sonny’; Sega
< ‘service’ + ‘game’); initial abbreviations (ALSV Toyota < Active Life Support Vehicle; CR- V
Honda < Comfortable Runabout Vehicle; YRV Daihatsu < “Youthful style, Robust body & Vivid
performance”); outdated words (YE DATA INC. < the data ). These deviations, which seem to be
used internationally, are explained by the fact that a person perceives the world selectively. First
and foremost, we notice abnormal things as they can be puzzling, mysterius, and dangerous. These
things make us think and act, while normal things arouse neither interest, nor emotions. Structurally
marked names, different graphically or phonetically, excite customer’s curiosity and thus meet
commercial goals.
Semantic analysis
It is not unusual that the English name speaks of a service or goods the company provides.
Judging by such names as Auto Oasis, Mr. Doors, Master Gym, Foto Boutique, a bilingual
customer can easily guess the activities of the named company. The semantics of one of the name
components definitely shows the function of the company: Fashion Point, Style – clothes shops,
СпортЛэнд (= SportLand) – sport shop, БрюкЛэнд (BryukLand = TrousersLand) – trousers
boutique, Steak Restaurant - name of a restaurant, Double Step Travel – travel agency, George
Dental Group – dental clinic – all these names are motivated functionally. Some names emphasize a
grand size of the company, e.g., Kосметик-City (Cosmetic City), САНТЕХЛЭНД (SanTechLand, a
store of sanitary engineering equipment), Спортлэнд (SportLand); others hint at a supreme quality
of provided service: ELITE-СТРОЙ (Elite-Stroy; Elite Construction); REAL Сервис (Real Service,
furniture manufacturers), Best-service (transportation).
However, the name may say nothing to the customer, be ambiguous and even cause false
associations if it is non-motivated, which is not a rare case. For example, it is difficult to guess what
kind of service is offered by the company Fox or what is hidden under the intimidating names Dark
Devil and Flying Devil. Even for a bilingual it is difficult to say what kind of establishment is
House. It takes effort to decipher the idea expressed in the name ЯRus (lit. ‘I am Russia’ or the
entire sound form of the word is translated as ‘tier’) of the furniture company, where the Roman
part of the name implies the company’s preference for working with Russian suppliers. The
research has revealed that the correspondence of English names with their designata is 2:1, i.e. onethird of the names do not mean what they designate.
Play upon English and Russian words is seen in some names. Thus, in the name of the clothes
shop Ё-Style we see the interaction of the English word your transcribed in Cyrillic and the
international word style. While the latter is easy to be understood, the former element raises doubts
and sometimes is associated with the initial of the word elegant rather than with your. That might
serve as an example of an unsuccessful ad.
According to their semantics, company names can be grouped into a) anthropocentric:
Principal (employment agency), Фиансэ (Fiance; wedding dress salon), AUTORIDER (car parts);
b) emphasizing style and beauty: Secret fashion (clothes shops), Fresh Style, Maxi Style, In
Style (female clothes);
c) expressing creativity: HANDMADE (advertising agency), Brush Studio (polygraphist
shop), АРТ ОБЪЕКТ (ART OBJECT; garden design);
d) naming artifacts and materials: FINE BOAT (production and repair of boats), АЙВОРИ
(IVORY; production of polyethylene film);
e) referring to dream and delight: Визард (Wizard; window construction), Флэш (Flash; game
machine saloon);
f) expressing progress: Эдванс (Advance; organization of holidays), New Life (match-making
g) desire to be the best: primacy (hairdresser’s), Best-service (transportation); БЭСТПартнер (Best Partner; computer details);
h) imitating Western culture: Евродизайн Маркет (Euro-Design Market), JeansWest (jeans
shop), Studio Hollywood (photo and movies studio);
i) designating natural phenomena: SUNRISE (match-making agency); Silver Wind (shipment),
Пасифик Оушн (Pacific Ocean, insurance company);
j) referring to flora and fauna: Wildroses (flower shop), БАТТЕРФЛЯЙ (BUTTERFLY,
cosmetics shop).
The semantics of company names reveals cultural values that are shared by the present-time
Russian community. The quantitative analysis shows that among the most frequent words are style
(Fresh Style, Ё-Style), fashion ( Art Fashion Gallery), and image (Image Studio). The status of a
client is very important (clothes shop Status); customers are invited to various VIP-centers: VIP
Boutiques, VIP Boutique Persona, VIP Rooms (in a café), etc. Ordinary clothes made in China
(which is often associated with poor quality) are sold in the VIP-department of one of the
department stores in Vladivostok. This proves that the word VIP is changing its meaning into the
attributive ‘first-class’, ‘excellent’. Broadening of meaning is also found in the word Bestseller that
is applied not only to books but also to clothes (and, as it might be, to other things.)
The image of a modern business lady has become very popular nowadays: Lady Boss (beauty
salon), Golden Lady (clothes store). The name of men’s footwear shop Respect Yourself addresses
the value of the individual in a person. At the same time there are names mirroring a traditional
collectivist value of Russians: e.g., the movie-theater People’s; applying to traditional Russian
names – Marusya (a boutique), or highlighting a typical quality of a Russian character – to reflect
on the past and idealize it – Nostalgia (a restaurant and a shop). There are company names that are
oriented towards the highest status (Royal Park, Royal Food), or pretend to be related to famous
foreign organizations or public figures: (billiards club Hollywood, Churchill Tobacco shop).
Associative and emotive character is one of the features typical of company names. Names
expressing an image provide the company’s success. Trying to emphasize bliss, delight and
pleasure a client can experience from the company’s service, creators of company names sometimes
use set idiomatic phrases, which can be literal translations from Russian into English, even
erroneous ones, like Сэвэн Скай (Seven Sky < Seventh Heaven).
Nowadays very fashionable words that can be seen on a number of signboards are studio,
salon, and hall. Studios are intended not only for painters, photographers, film-makers, or
designers. The word is often applied for beauty salons (Art Point Studio, The Hairs (sic!) Studio,
Студия SunRay, etc.).
By frequency the rank of the word salon follows that of studio: VIP салоны: меха, кожа,
обувь, сумки (VIP salons: furs, leather, footwear, bags, and purses), VIP салон элитной одежды
(VIP salon of elite clothes), Салон ‘Умный Dом’ (Salon ‘Clever House’). As was observed by the
M. Kitaigorodskaya (2003), this word is very popular in the western part of Russia and is used in
the meaning ‘a shop where the product is not sold immediately but is made to order.’ However, in
Asian Russia, the loan salon is used in a different meaning, though also slightly different from the
English one: it indicates not only a shop where smart, expensive clothes are sold (Collins
COBUILD 2001, p. 1372) but also a shop for household equipment, i.e. in the Far Eastern ads the
meaning of the word salon is generalized.
The word hall was borrowed from English to name a place where public events or concerts
are held – formerly, these places were termed Palaces of Culture. For example, the Seamen’s
Palace of Culture in Vladivostok has turned into the FESCO Hall (FESCO = Far Eastern Shipping
Company). The word hall is also frequently applied to various shopping centers: «Art Fashion
Hall», «Digital Hall», «Sony Hall», «Plasma Hall».
Another semantic trend that has been evident these days is a focus on words implying new
technologies and technical progress. The imported word high-tech is very popular in ads. We can
find it not only in the names of stores selling electronic equipment (A11 Hi-Tech), but also in the
names of companies working in other spheres: e.g., High Tech café. No less popular are the words
digital (Digital & Mobile, Digital Hall) and web (Webdog computer shop, Webcafe coffee-house;
Web Game Internet-cafe), as well as other computer terms (Interface Internet-café; Port@lux
electronic equipment store).
The trend has been traced to use nouns with abstract meanings that name qualities, features,
and properties (cafes Republic, Format, clothes shops Glance, Status, Style and others). These are
the words with positive connotation (beauty salons Bounty, Studio Beauty, national bank Trust,
décor-salon Paradise, car service center Auto Oasis). They often designate philosophical ideas,
something unusual, mysterious, hardly comprehensible (night clubs Infinity, Millennium, cafe
Pustota [= Void], clothes shop Symbol).
Functional analysis
Many American and multinational corporations, such as Western Union, , Land Rover,
Greenfield, Colgate, Lipton, Old Spice, or Orbit do not customize their messages. They send them
to Russian customers unchanged, using English and a familiar graphic form of their company and
product names. On the one hand, this is the way for them to get recognized everywhere; on the
other hand, their company’s source form in English is expected to be a guarantee of high quality of
their product. The product may originate in various non-English speaking countries, but still use the
English-looking name: Samsung, LG Electronics (Korea), Sony, Sega, Land Cruiser (Japan), Brook
Bond (India). Though using global English, many company names incorporate culturally-bound
connotations that can be accounted for by the producing nation’s traditions (Krykova, 2004), like
Japanese Fighter (Mitsubishi), Samurai (Suzuki), Cherry (Nissan), Legacy, Crew (collectivist
culture) and many others. These brand-names mirror historical traditional and stereotypical features
of Japanese culture. The Russian national companies also use English-sounding and Englishlooking words and Roman script for the names of their products, companies or labels: Лукойл (=
LukOil = LookOil; gas company), Perfect Lady (disposable razors), Botchkarev (beer), Cooler
(beer). Other multinational companies allow product-name and company-name extensions in
Russian as a national language together with two scripts, Roman and Cyrillic: Mountain Dew Маунтинг Дью, Coca-Cola - Кока Кола, Brook Bond - Брук-Бонд.
It is not only transnational companies that use English names. Today many goods produced
locally are also intended for exporting, so Englishization of goods labels and instructions has
become part of standardizing. Trade marks and brand names become adapted to the international
market: Green Leaf (milk company), Lucky Tours (travel agency), Clover House (department store).
This localization, which accompanies globalization, is termed as ‘glocalization’ (Pakir, 2001/2006:
192). The English language adaptation to local settings is a very important aspect of glocalization.
English glocalization in ads can be used for both functional and social reasons (Ustinova,
Bhatia, 2005, p. 504-505). It is used functionally to preserve the company identity, to inform the
customer of the product and attract attention to it. Thus informative and attractive roles of ads serve
functionally. When symbolizing prestige, novelty, and modernization, English is used for social
reasons. As we have mentioned above, advertising reflects changing cultural values and imposes
new values, which might be labeled as ideological, or social function as well. So we can definitely
say that Russian advertisements use English for both functional and social reasons.
The mixing of English and Russian results from a Russian affix added to an English stem. A
message on TV screen is written in Cyrillic letters. To make a commercial more pragmatically
accustomed to the Russian audience, advertisers use imperative sentences characteristic of Russian
Dirol Kids- zhivi s
Dirol Kids - live with a smile!
Rhyming English words with Russian is another way to acculturize English in the Russian
commercial, as rhymes are very popular expressive means of Russian rhetoric:
Moloko vdvoine vkusnei esli eto Milky Way.
Milk is twice tastier if it is Milky Way.
That a new product is adjusted to the Russian culture is imposed upon a customer, even
though at first it may seem strange:
Shock - eto po-nashemu!
Shock is our way!
This is a commercial advertising a new sort of chocolate. The creators of this ad mixed French
(Choc), English, and Russian. The word shock should have a negative connotation, as in Russian it
means ‘a state threatening one’s life.’ However, the altered meaning of the English word ‘a person’s
emotional and physical condition when something very frightening has happened’ hints at a new
portion of adrenalin received by a person who goes in for an extreme kind of sport, which is very
popular with young people. So the commercial insists that the chocolate is intended for young
customers. Besides, it appeals to the Russian value of collectivism, making the customers feel a
special group of the clientele.
Many companies use English for decorating their products, especially T-shirts, bags,
sportswear, etc. This decorative English (Dougill, 1987) is intended to reveal prestige of the brand,
though it “conveys a mood more than a message” (McArthur, 2002, p. 369). That is why many
decorative inscriptions prove to be informationally empty. However, their function is to characterize
its owner as a progressive, successful, humorous, or defiant person. The example for the last
characteristics can be seen in the T-shirt inscription FBI: female bodies inspector. Very often such
decorative inscriptions testify to a person’s belonging to some group. Decorative inscriptions can be
a proof of one’s traveling and visiting certain places of interest. Russians who traveled to Beijing
and visited one of the wonders of the world wear proudly T-shirts saying, ‘I climbed the Great
Wall.’ In Russia, manufacturing T-shirts with university emblems is not as popular as abroad yet
and is a matter of further commercial development.
To sum up, English advertisements carry out several functions: interactive, informative, and
attractive or decorative. The interactive function implies interaction between a customer and a
company through advertising of the company’s goods or service in exchange of the customer’s
money. The informative function is implemented by the ads explaining what is advertised, what the
product is intended for, and where it can be bought or further information received. The informative
function is also carried out by the door signs OPEN/CLOSED which infrequently substitute for the
corresponding signs in Russian. The decorative function is observed in a specific graphic form of
English words, mix of Roman and Cyrillic scripts, or purposeful deviations from spelling rules. It is
not surprising that English advertising texts with graphic expressive means implement, along with a
decorative function, many other functions, for instance playing (upon words), attractive, and
informative (ЯRus, Hall idey). In some cases the English language performs just an attractive
function. For example, sellers use the English word new more and more often to draw the
customer’s attention to certain information in the ad:
Дипломат. Ваш одежный друг. Дубленки, кожа, меха. New! Пуховики (= Diplomat.
Your clothes friend. Sheepskin coats, leather, furs. New! Down coats).
This English word NEW attracts a customer’s attention by both its Roman script and its
meaning (which means that more and more Russian customers do know this English word) and
drives the customer to swallow the information in Russian that follows the English word.
Asian flavor in Russian advertising
The influence of neighboring Asian cultures is also evident in the region. Exotic cuisine can
be expected at Chinese and Japanese restaurants and cafes that bear Chinese, Japanese or Korean
names, written either in characters, or transliterated in Cyrillic or Latin letters - for example, Night
club ‘Jumanji.’ When disguised in Roman letters, Asian words are often taken for English ones,
which, for a common person, makes an impression of the increased Americanization of Russian
advertising. For a person, not educated enough, the Romanized Chinese toponym Formoza (the old
name of Taiwan) in Компьютеры Formoza если вы думаете о будущем [Computers Formoza if
you think about the future] may sound quite exotic.
Like in many other countries in the world, Russian children and teenagers are keen Asian
martial arts. There are quite a few advertisements promoting martial arts clubs in English:
Kyokushinkai Karate; Taekwon-do, etc. The latter word has a number of spelling variants in
Russian: тхэквондо (the adequate transliteration of the Korean word), тэквондо (translation
transcription through English), and таэквондо (transliteration from English). The use of the
English form puts an end to the long-standing disputes on which Russian form is correct.
Asian influence is also observed in calquing phrases. Thus similar to Ichiban, an often
occurred Japanese name of restaurant in California (USA), we found a store NumberOne (written in
one word in English) in the Siberian city of Irkutsk. The Japanese meaning disguised in the English
form testifies to the intercultural influence in Russian advertising.
Russian and English names are sometimes stylized in the Asian way and the letters are written
in a character-like manner. Stylization is also evident in presenting European words in a Chinese or
Japanese-like syllabic structure, with syllables following each other in consonant-vowel clusters,
e.g., MoDaMo (clothes from Germany) – the word, when pronounced, is associated with the
European madam but in writing it looks very much Japanese with its open syllables consisting of a
consonant and a vowel.
Elements of Asian cultures are also traced in Russian Far Eastern names of companies: Gold
Dragon (a building materials company), Japanese Sakura (a frequent element in shop and restaurant
names), as well as Chinese toponyms (Shanghai, Peking, etc); Yin–Yang (medical company that
uses traditional Chinese and Korean ways of treatment) – this big company’s name (its headquarter
is located in Khabarovsk and branches are spread all over Far Eastern Russia) is written in Cyrillic
erroneously – Инь-Янь (instead of Инь-Ян), which testifies to the necessity of introducing
intermediary translation (Proshina 2005), i.e. translation from regional Englishes as Lingua Franca,
in a wider scale, since many Russians get acquainted with Chinese philosophy, medicine , martial
arts, etc. through English-language texts that might be written either by Chinese or Western authors.
It often happens that Asian names perform a decorative function – they sound exotic and say
nothing (but for the origin, probably) about the product. This may be illustrated by the name Banzai
of the company that imports cranes and excavators from Japan to Russia. A war cry of Japanese
samurai is negatively flavored both in English and Russian (cf. banzai attack, banzai charge)
(Proshina 2004); however, in this case it is just an exotic sound associated with Japan.
The study reveals that English plays a distinguished role in Russian advertisement. English
advertisements carry out several functions: interactive, informative, attractive, and decorative. The
innovative, creative or decorative functions of English in the Russian Far East are fulfilled through
deliberate insertion of English expressions, English-Russian code-mixing or code-switching, and
language play in mass-media, brand names of companies and stores, outdoor billboards, and print
advertisements. Far Eastern Russian ads are under the influence of the English language, global
advertising discourse, Asian culture, and American values.
Abundant English presence in labeling products, company names, and slogans is predictable
because multinational corporations decide not to customize their message. English names of
Russian stores and agencies in the Far East can be explained by the fact that English is considered a
marker of Westernization, internationalism, modernization, innovation, prestige and fun. Roman,
Cyrillic and stylized Asian scripts are used as a physical manifestation of English words. English
glocalization in ads can be used for both functional and social reasons. A typical feature of
advertising in the Siberian and Far Eastern territories of Russia is the influence and presence of
Asian cultures, languages and scripts.
The semantic analysis of ads in Asian Russia reveals the predominance of words imposing the
values of high status of an individual, businesslike way of life and fashion, strive for technological
progress. Some of these trends testify to the change of stereotypical values ascribed to the Russian
In new linguistic and social settings, some English words (like VIP, studio, salon, hall), which
are used in Russian advertisement, change their meaning and bring forth semantic deviations of
Russian English.
The formal analysis of ad structure shows use of English in all structural parts of
advertisements. English influence is observed in a number of ways, from employing words and
sentences in this language to code-mixing including shift of letters and word switching. English
proves to be a means of creativity, which is so important for advertisement. In Asian Russia, the
creative possibilities for advertisers increase due to the influence of neighboring Asian cultures,
scripts and languages.
It is not necessarily that English or Russian-English mixed ads are intended for a bilingual
customer. About one third of all English-containing ads do not correspond to the functional
objective of their company, that is to say they are semantically empty for an English-knowing
bilingual. These ads are not used in their informative function but have rather attractive or
decorative functions, hinting at a high prestige, glamour, and impressiveness of their company and
promising the same to their customers. At the same time, the ongoing increase of English-affected
ads in Russian, especially those that have an informative function, testifies to the growing number
of English-knowing Russians, whose level of English knowledge might range from the beginning to
the advanced and proficient. The repeated use of English in ads facilitates learning the language
and, therefore, ads can be applied to teaching and learning English.
In sum, English usage in the Russian Siberia and Far East has grown rapidly over the past two
decades. All indications are that English will continue to enhance its interpersonal, informative,
attractive, and decorative functions there.
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syntagmatics as a target of borrowing].Unpublished Candidate of Philology Dissertation.
Moscow State University, Moscow.
Aclub (2002). Home Page. <> Retrieved 05.09.2010.
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Plate 1. Advertisement of a karate section in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, with the name of
the martial arts section in Roman Japanese, the Wellcome word in Cyrillic English and the rest
in Russian.
Plate 2
Advertisement of a hotel, beginning with the welcoming phrase in three languages – Russian,
Chinese, and English (Vostochnaya Asia Magazine. Vladivostok. Spring-summer, 1998, 64)
Plate 3
The signboard of a bijouterie shop in Vladivostok. The choice of the name implies that the
jewelry, but nonexpensive
form of the letters
reminds us of some
Asian script.