HSS students presenting 3 papers at international conference on semiosis research
Exciting research still goes on during Covid times!
Recently, 7 undergraduate students from the School of Humanities and Social Science (HSS) participated online in the 5th International Conference of the Semiosis Research Center (ICSRC) organized by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea. They formed 3 groups and presented the findings of 3 semiotic studies during the week-long conference (June 29 – July 5, 2020).
The three studies evolved from group projects for the course TRA2520 Textual Analysis and Readings, offered as an elective course of the BA in Translation program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (CUHK-Shenzhen).
The first study traced how the elderly are portrayed in healthcare product advertising over the past 40 years. The study was first conceptualized by second-year students Buenos Yiwei Fang and Stella Kaitong Liu and third-year student Crystie Hanqian Wu for coursework in the fall of 2018 and expanded into an Undergraduate Research Award (URA) project in 2019, culminating in a conference paper entitled “Constructing Positive Identities for the Elderly in Healthcare Products Advertisements: A Semiotic Perspective” in mid-summer 2020.
The second study examined how advertisers can skillfully use personal pronouns to construct positive images for a company, its products, and its (potential) customers. From the same 2018-2019 cohort of second-year students as the first study, Stella Kaitong Liu and Wayne Yiwei Wu presented a paper entitled “Identity construction in beauty advertising through personal pronouns I and you: A case study of the 2014 L’Oreal Paris promotional video”.
The third study, conducted by 2019-2020 second-year students Krystal Yao Liu, Kacey Ziqi Wang and Cynthia Shiyi Huang, analyzed Apple’s latest promotional video, focusing on its creative use of antithesis to pit the do’s and don’ts typically found in the instructional manuals of traditional computers against Apple’s barriers-breaking attitude. In their paper entitled “A Multimodality Analysis of Apple’s iPad Pro 2020 Advertisement”, authors Kacey, Krystal and Cynthia also examined the juxtaposition of voice-overs for the traditional computers against the muted but visually thought-provoking visuals for the iPad Pro 2020 to create an unforgettable image of a ‘dare to be different’ Apple product.
-More about the 3 conference presentations-
The study “Constructing positive identities for the elderly in healthcare products advertisements”, by Yiwei Fang, Kaitong Liu, and Hanqian Wu, investigates the shifting trend in how older people are portrayed in healthcare product commercials—more specifically, mobility aids and lifestyle enhancers advertising from the 1980s to 2010s. Using a semiotic analysis framework, the study reveals that the portrayals of older people are changing towards a more positive attitude in both types of commercials. This study analyzes (i) the choice of participants, processes and circumstances, (ii) the visual cues (e.g. gaze and camera angles) related to contact, social distance and power relations between the elderly in the commercials and the viewer, and (iii) the compositional meaning in each commercial as realized by the arrangement and organization of the visual elements. This study contributes to raising the awareness among advertisers and the general public about positive aging, and points out that the shifting trends toward a more positive portrayal of the elderly can be both profitable for business and life-changing for our increasingly greying population.
The study entitled “Identity construction in beauty advertising through personal pronouns”, by Kaitong Liu and Yiwei Wu, examines how a beauty product advertisement, namely the 2014 L’OREAL Paris promotional video, deploys person pronouns as part of its branding strategy. Using a textual analysis on person deixis in advertising discourse and double exophora theory, the study reveals that the use of first person pronoun I helps the brand to build intimate relations with its consumers, while the second person pronoun You is used to directly engage the audience through an intimate addressee-oriented tone and helps to construct for (potential) consumers an identity exuding self-appreciation, self-assurance, and boldness. The linguistic pattern of repeatedly using person pronouns has now been recognized as an effective advertising strategy and has been employed by other brands such as Origins. This study sheds light on how the effect of identity construction created through the skillful use of person pronouns in advertising can benefit business companies.
The study entitled “A multimodality analysis of Apple’s iPad Pro 2020 advertisement” by Yao Liu, Ziqi Wang and Shiyi Huang explores how Apple's iPad Pro 2020 advertising video promotes its brand and showcases the extraordinary performance of iPad Pro 2020 through the application of multimodal approaches. Using visual grammar analysis, this study examines how this video advertisement creates an immersive experience for viewers by using a variety of camera angles and shooting distances. Conceptual blending theory is used to further analyze the antagonistic relationship between detached voice-overs for rival products that are subtly depicted as being outdated and dynamic ‘we break the rules’ images for iPad Pro 2020, highlighting the unconventional and innovative characteristics of Apple. By analyzing the advertisement of iPad Pro 2020 from the perspective of multimodality and corresponding advertising theories, this study explores the multisensory realizations of creative online advertising and provides new ideas for the integration of linguistics and advertising design.
-About the mentor-
Dr. Foong Ha Yap is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Science (HSS) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. She received her PhD in Applied Linguistics from UCLA, and has previously taught in the US, Japan and Hong Kong. Her research interests are in the areas of language change, language typology, cognitive-functional linguistics and discourse analysis. Among the courses she currently teaches are TRA 2130 Language Studies for Translation, TRA2520 Textual Analysis and Readings, and HSS2010/GED2301 Literature and Human Nature.