Cultural Differences in Spatial Composition and Visual Directionality: A Comparative study of English and Chinese Newspaper Advertisements


  • Yanli MENG Department of Foreign languages University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, China



cultural difference, newspaper advertisements, spatial composition, visual directionality


This paper aims to demonstrate the notion that visual communication is not an unbiased, universally perceived means of communication. Instead, it is even more culturally loaded than verbal language in that it operates very often at the unconscious level of mind and thus often escapes from critical analysis. This paper draws on Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996) framework of visual grammar, especially the two descriptive categories under visual composition -- spatial arrangement and visual directionality, to analyze several subscription advertisements of several Chinese and English newspapers. It is found that these advertisements display very different features in visual communication which can only be satisfactorily explained with consideration of a complex array of underlying factors including traditions of visual culture, writing system, philosophy, etc.