A Brand New Language

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Overview

In the years since World War II, what began in the United States as a shift from a wartime to a peacetime economy soon led to a massive outpouring of new commercial offerings of consumer products and services accompanied by unprecedented efforts to market these commodities. How, Monroe Friedman asks, did these extraordinary commercial developments change the American people over the course of the postwar period?

He offers the beginnings of an answer to this, and many other related questions, by bringing together the individual components of a recently completed series of studies on changes in language used in the popular literature of the United States since 1945. The studies ask how literature has been influenced by commercial developments. Brand names were used as the indicator of linguistic influence, and detailed content analyses were conducted to examine trends in the use of brand names in popular literature contexts. The first chapter provides background information for the individual studies and the last chapter attempts to make sense of their aggregate findings. Several intervening chapters examine the results of content analyses of popular novels, plays, and songs of the postwar era. Additional chapters look at the use of brand names in newspaper reporting of non-business stories, as well as the symbolic communication functions of brand names in both humorous and non-humorous writings. The penultimate chapter uses test data from Consumer Reports to analyze the quality of the consumer products whose brand names are used frequently in the popular literature of the postwar era. Friedman offers a unique and important combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to an extremely large and diverse set of popular culture materials. His findings, which shed light on significant commercial developments of the postwar period, cut across many disciplines including American studies, history, literature, journalism, drama, linguistics, marketing, advertising, mass communications, sociology, psychology, and popular culture.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

MONROE FRIEDMAN is Professor of Psychology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Consumer Cultural Origins of Language Commercialization

Brand Names in Popular American Novels

Brand Names in American and British Hit Plays

Brand Names in the Lyrics of American Hit Songs

Commercial Influences in the Texts of American Newspapers

Commercial Expressions in Popular Culture Works

Brand Names in American Humor

The Quality of Product Brands Used in Word-of-Author Advertising

Beginnings and Endings

References

Index

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