A Comparison of the Female Identities in Chinese and English Advertisements

July 2013
Volume 7 Issue 1

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A Comparison of the Female Identities in Chinese and English Advertisements

Caroline Hwang and Anna Lee
National Taipei University of Technology
f10970@ntut.edu.tw; f10970@hotmail.com

Bioprofiles: Caroline Hwang obtained her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught in universities in the U.S. and worked as an editor-in-chief in the UK. She is currently Associate Professor at National Taipei University of Technology and author of more than 20 books and academic articles.

Anna Lee is a M.A. candidate in Applied Linguistics at National Taipei University of Technology. She is currently a teacher of English at National Yang Ming High School in Taipei.


This study aims to investigate the issue of female identity construction in advertisements in Chinese and in English languages respectively from a contrastive perspective. The research questions asked are: (1) What kinds of female identities are presented in Chinese and English advertisements for the same-brand and the same-type products? (2) In what ways are the presented female identities similar and/or different? (3) What other categories of products might involve female identity construction? In order to answer these questions, nine Chinese advertisements that involve female identity construction have been selected from the Chinese-language editions of three popular international female magazines published in Taiwan: Elle, Marie Claire, and Beauty as well as nine English advertisements that involve female identity construction from three popular American magazines, Good Housekeeper, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Health. Out of the 18 advertisements, five same-brand products and one same-type product were found and compared for their similarities and/or differences between the ads of the two languages. In three out of the five same-brand products, there were not enough data from the magazines, so the Internet was used as a supplementary resort for any possible clues. The purpose is to do a precise or near-precise comparison between the female identities constructed for the audiences of two different sociocultural backgrounds. The last six advertisements (found only in the English magazines) are discussed for their female identity presentation in gender-neutral products. The results show some interesting differences in female identity construction in the Chinese-language and English-language ads. Finally, a direction for future research in this area is proposed.

Keywords: advertisement, discourse, pragmatics, female identity, contrastive analysis

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Category: Volume 7 Issue 1 June 2013