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Where to stay in the UK and in Italy: a comparative study of the language of holiday accommodation advertisements

di Beatrice Stellin
Università degli Studi di Padova
Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia
Facoltà di Scienze Politiche
Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature anglo-germaniche e slave

Relatore: Prof. Erik Castello
Tesi di laurea di: Beatrice Stellin (Matr. N. 614513 MZL)

1.2 - The creation of tourists resort through promotional texts

The complexity of tourist promotion relies on the semiotic construction of places and destinations as signs, a process which is clearly influenced by ideological purposes (Francesconi, 2006: 62). According to this position, the analysis of tourism promotional texts has to be carried out adopting a semiotic perspective, which allows one to consider the message as a sign and a socio-cultural gaze, which approaches the message itself in its context.
According to Francesconi (2006: 64), these signs can be divided into visual and verbal codes, as they respectively give rise to two different kinds of representations:

  1. the visual representation, which has the role of attracting and enchanting tourists and consequently of encouraging them to book a room of the resort. Photos are usually considered to be the best device, as they are a powerful medium to modify reality;
  2. the verbal representation, in which morphosyntactical and lexical choices play a fundamental role, creating the promotional message and branding the resort. For example, the employment of imperative forms plays an exhortative function and show a friendly attitude towards the traveller, while superlatives give a connotation of exclusivity to the experience which is far from the mediocrity of the routine. Alliterations and anaphors seduce the reader through recurring patterns and sounds and metaphors allow one to avoid complex and long descriptions. In this way the tourist's attention is captured by the conceptual and structural simplicity of the text.

The various visual and verbal signs perceived by customers through catalogues, brochures, websites, videos transcend the real image of the resort and create another textual presence, whose aim is to orient and manipulate through promotion and advertisement. As the semiotician Marcel Danesi (2002: 62) argues "the promoted item has to be represented as uniquely, characteristically attractive." In this perspective, images, slogans, symbols, location and advertisement material are carefully chosen and combined to create a kind of "personality". By contrast, John Urry (1990: 63) explains that "the tourist gaze, being socially organized and systematized, is structured by pre-existing cultural images through which the physical object is barely seen at all." In other words, tourists' perception is influenced by socio-cultural notions of what is the object of desire, because different from everyday routine.
The sociologist Graham Dann (1996: 68) identifies "four ideological macro-models for tourism promotional texts":

  1. the language of authentication: which promotes the experience of the traveller as authentic, genuine, pure, opposing it to the banality of everyday life;
  2. the language of differentation: which overtly highlights the contrast between holiday and normal life;
  3. the language of recreation: which celebrates the recreational and hedonistic side of tourism;
  4. the language of appropriation: which tend to adopt an attitude of control and domination of what is unknown.