LINGUIST List 7.1454

Thu Oct 17 1996

Sum: East German advertising language

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. "ANNE BARRON (GERMAN) PG", Replies to query on East German advertising language

Message 1: Replies to query on East German advertising language

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 1996 21:58:51 BST
Subject: Replies to query on East German advertising language
Hello all,
Here are the replies to my recent question on East German advertising 

1) From:
I don't know if anything's been done on the language specifically, but
you may want to search issues of trade journals like Advertising Age
or Adweek back to 1990. They may give you a little cultural
background. I remember reading an article in AA around 1991 that
explained, with a couple examples, that East Europeans received
so-called "image advertising" rather resentfully. They wanted hard
facts about the products, and quick montage shots of Steffi Graf
playing tennis in Nikes didn't do it for them. There may be some
other information in these journals too, but primarily not linguistic.
James Kirchner

2) From: Spencer <>
Subject: East-German advertising
I don't know of any books or articles that examine advertising;
however, I think you may be making a big mistake in assuming that
biblical references would be foreign to East Germans. Christianity
was discouraged in the East but it was not forbidden, and those who
were not concerned about their carreers did attend church. After
reunification there was also a tremendous boom in church activity in
the East, which may have made up for any deficit in religious
knowledge that existed before. I can imagine that there were no
biblical references in East-German advertising, but that does not mean
that the people would not understand such references

People also seem to forget that, with the exception of the area around
Dresden, West German television could be received in the East. People
were not "allowed" to watch western television, but everyone did. My
friends in East Berlin and Sachsen-Anhalt grew up watching Dallas and
Dynasty and were somewhat familiar with the things to be found in
western stores. Easterners even made jokes about the "Tal der
Ahnungslosen" (valley of the clueless, i.e. Dresden) which could not
receive western broadcasts. I don't mean to say that there are no
differences between the perceptions of Easterners and Westerners, but
after spending quite a bit of time in the former East, I feel
confident in saying that the Easterners were not at all ignorant of
things going on in the West.

I know this isn't a real answer to you question, but I hope you will find
my comments useful. When dealing with the East there is always an
incredible gap between the way things were supposed to be and the way they
really were.
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