Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Juli 2006

14.2. Regionen und transnationale Prozesse
Herausgeberin | Editor | Éditeur: Elisabeth Wies-Campagner (Luxembourg/Wien)

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Homepages of Dentists in Hungary and Internationally - A Linguistic and Marketing Analysis

Veronika Pólay (College Dániel Berzsenyi, German Departement, Szombathely, Hungary)


1.1. Let us compare the usual printed text with that placed on the Internet. The first important difference is the accessibility and availability. While you pick up printed texts on purpose, it is not always so with an on-line, Internet-based text. Even if you are in a doctor’s waiting room, you can decide if you want to pick up one of the brochures or not, not to mention books. However, when surfing the Internet one can come across certain textual contents and sites, which he never intended to read. Here I mean real sites, and not the pop-up or pop-under advertisements, which are pushed aggressively through the web.

1.2. The second important difference lies in the length of the text. In the case of printed material, the length is at least easy to guess. With Internet-based texts, it is never known how long it may be, and how many further links are included, which can take the reader to other pages. It may happen that the opening page does not even contain any text concerning the content you were after, but the links there can lead to a great deal of material, which can add up to an entire library.

1.3. The next important difference is to be found in the reading-habits. These can change due to the above factors as well. The reading of an Internet-based text is a completely different activity than the reading of a book or a newspaper. Everybody, who has ever been ‘On-line’ learns fast how to select. You learn to decide at first sight if the displayed site includes any important or wanted information or not.

For the above reasons, it is necessary to revise the currently known and used text typologies and to redefine the text types.

2. The purpose of this article is to analyze dentist web-portals. The first important step is to classify the text. Katharina Reiss(1) operates with three basic text-types (the fourth, the audio-visual category is irrelevant from the perspective of the current analysis): the informative, the expressive and the appellative. Of course, just as with the printed text, in the online world there is no homogeneous text that can be classified into one single type. You can only determine the dominance of a certain type, or you can virtually separate parts of the text which belong to different types.

A homepage can provide objective information, may try to convince the reader to buy certain goods or draw on services, and sometimes it contains a description in poetic language.

Dentists’ homepages not only would like to inform us, but of course, they would like us to make use of their services, for which it is necessary to consider the aspects of online marketing.

I came across two main types of dentist websites: cumulated opening page and personal sites. If you type in the word "dentist (+ country)" in the search bar, the first site coming up is a listing of the registered dentists by country.

The cumulative sites characterize and describe the dentist’s services and how they compare with the quality of a certain country and with those of other investigated sites; these are the ones that are clearly appellative. The sentences, which seem to be informative at first sight, contain strong attributes, incomplete structures, the goal of which is not an objective introduction of the services offered, but to raise interest and to convince the reader:

Modern offices close to the border offer you excellent dental services. All dental services1

The quality conforms to EU standards or higher.(2)

Not until you reach the cumulative sites can you find the sites of the individual dentists, the main characteristic of which is their unified manner of presentation. The core information is on the left side of the page and in the main frame. The positioning of the different types of information varies widely. Sometimes the contact details are on the left side, while the motto and the description can be found in the main frame, but in other cases it can be vice-versa. Regardless of whether the practice is located in Hungary or in Austria, there is some sort of logo on the page. Then follows an introduction to the practice: the people working there, the main specialization, the features, equipment and extras. The text itself does not dominate the entire space on the page, but it is broken up by some inserted picture as an illustration of the text. The pictures and text boxes are usually arranged in a zig-zag pattern. The texts are usually very short, and refer mainly to the quality. At the bottom of the page you can request further information or a price quotation by filling in the spreadsheet provided.

The editors seem to have had the marketing aspects in mind:

At first sight, the webpage is reader-friendly; it does not overload the reader with long, complicated and typographically difficult texts. It rather provides key-words and leaves it to the reader to follow the links or to stay. If you are still interested, you can visit the website of a dentist’s individual website.

3. I have chosen two sites: Hungarian and German(3). Two completely different philosophies and patient-doctor relationship come alive before our eyes. While the German site only provides the name and the details of how to contact the dentist, the Hungarian site swamps you with information. You can find the motto of the practice, the curriculum vitae of the leading dentist, the introduction of the team and the description of the physical environment. On the second page of the German website you can find out how to get to the dentist’s office by different means of transportation. This is not worth analyzing from marketing aspects.(4)

On the Hungarian site there are instruments to help ease the uncertainty, the incomprehensibility. The service is always a pig in a poke, and thus, the prospective client is always after some indications and assurances of quality. The Hungarian site indicates the ISO certificate and two international qualifications. "Since 2000 we have been chosen practice of the firms 3M and ESPE, which is a great honor for us"(5) Companies providing services to firms can take three major steps towards quality assurance: adequate and qualified personnel, standardized procedures (well documented by flow-charts), and continuous monitoring of customers satisfaction. The German site of a Hungarian dentist provides the qualifications of the dentist, while the ISO certificate is the assurance of the work-flow control and documentation. However, there is neither a counter nor any other way except for sending a message to the e-mail address to send feed-back or to find out how many visitors have entered the site before.

The services are not tangible, which increases the risk of purchasing them. Thus, in this case the experimental and confidential quality is very important. This may be backed up by the ‘verbal-advertisement’, the adequate pricing, the personnel and the proper physical environment.

The Hungarian dentist puts emphasis on including the qualifications of the personnel and the describing the facilities (equipment, waiting room). There is no price indicated.

Today there is fierce competition on almost all fields. Prior to having work done, a client does not know what will the service be like, what he will get for his money, even if he is already in the waiting room. When surfing on the internet, searching for the right service, it is far more difficult. Thus, it is of great importance to show the client what differentiates a particular service from all the other competing ones (the Unique Selling Points USPs, or unique Value Chain - Michael E. Porter ). This can lie in the marketing activities (a good motto), or in the fundamentals (competitive advantage, like specialized services, or innovations). A sample for that may be a practice in Sopron (not far from the Austrian border): clients are provided with a shuttle transfer from Vienna or from the airport in Schwechat (of course, the prerequisite for this service is a minimum spending at the practice, e.g. some specific services (not simply a filling).

The expectations and impressions of the prospective clients are impacted by the ‘verbal-advertisement’, the usual company advertisement and the past experiences.

Because the dentist’s services are usually linked with bad experiences (pain), it is of great importance to highlight the positive messages and to try to blot out negative experiences. On a Hungarian site, for example, the description of a treatment includes the phrase "painless treatment"(6).

For such purposes you can use the so called ‘appeals’, which may be rational, emotional or moral. The rational focuses on the real advantages, like the price and the level of service. As mentioned earlier, the Hungarian page provides two international certifications as references to make the offerings comparable (benchmark).

The emotional approach of a dental practice can offer advantages which are linked to subjective, emotional categories, e.g. nice smile, white teeth. The two investigated sites do not contain such elements. The moral message can tell you what is the right, accepted behavior (regular profound teeth cleaning, visiting your dentist every six months) or what is healthy. The German site says : "Ein sauberer Zahn wird niemals krank!"(7).

Comparing almost any part of the Hungarian and the German sites, one can see a major difference even they describe the same subjects (for example, a ceramic crown).The Hungarian text is complicated, long and impersonal with a lot of detailed (and useless) information overdosing the reader and making it hard to visually process everything that is presented:

Keramikkronen ohne Metallbasis werden vor allem für die Frontzähne empfohlen, wo eine ästhetische und naturgetreue Erscheinung außerordentlich wichtig ist. Es wird eine breite Stufe präpariert, worauf im zahntechnischen Laboratorium eine gleichmäßig dicke Porzellanmasse aufgebracht werden kann. Sie wird im Ofen mehrmals ausgebrannt, poliert und neu aufgebaut, bis die gewünschte Form und Farbe fertig wird. Für die Zeit der technischen Arbeit wird der präparierte Zahn mit einer provisorischen Kunststoffkrone versehen. Wenn alles in Ordnung ist, kann die fertige Krone zum zweiten Mal schon auf den Zahn befestigt werden. Dieser Eingriff ist parallel auch auf mehreren Zähnen durchführbar. Die Vollkeramikkrone kann keine Allergie verursachen. Was die Qualität betrifft, sind die zwei Materialien gleich, hinsichtlich der Farbwirkung ist die Vollkeramikkrone eine viel bessere und originalgetreuere Restaurierung. Wegen des Verfahrens und der Qualität des Materials kann dadurch ein außerordentlich lebentreues Zahnersatz ereicht werden. Es ist eine zeit-, material-, und kostenaufwendige Lösung. (8)

By contrast, the German dentist provides a simple and more transparent presentation, with the text broken by colored pictures:

Eine Vollkeramik- Krone ist metallfrei und findet die Anwendung vermehrt bei besonders kritischen Patienten, da die  biokompatible Keramik der Forderung nach besonders anspruchsvoller Ästhetik am ehesten gerecht wird. s. Cerec
Die Vollkeramik- Krone ist  in der ästhetischen Wirkung unübertroffen. Eine  Vollkeramik- Krone ist allerdings recht zeitaufwendig, sie zählt zu den Spitzenleistungen der modernen Zahnheilkunde und Zahntechnik.(9)

The language used by the German site can reach a wider spectrum of prospective clients. The text of the German dentist's website has been prepared for a wide range of readers, and thus, it takes into consideration the characteristics of the Internet's broad and heterogeneous audience. It cannot presume and expect a certain level of background knowledge and qualification. The phrasing is such that it should draw and ‘capture’ anyone's attention. The Hungarian dentist’s approach is culture-dependent and is likely to be rooted in the traditional Hungarian client-doctor relationship. It is still expected that doctors in Hungary should use difficult language full of strange words that can only be understood by them. Fortunately, the trend is now changing, as more and more doctors understand the necessity of presenting their work as a service, an approach that, of course, requires the use of a different kind of communication.

© Veronika Pólay (College Dániel Berzsenyi, German Departement, Szombathely, Hungary)


(1) Reiss, Katharina: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Übersetzungskritik. München: Max Hueber, 1971.

(2) - 2005.12.05.

(3) Hungarian:, German:

(4) Unsere Zahnarztpraxis ist mit öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln gut zu erreichen: Direkt neben dem Hauptbahnhof Unna gelegen, nur 7 Km entfernt vom Flughafen Dortmund- Wickede, Bus- Haltestelle am Rathaus Übernachtungsmöglichkeit für unsere auswärtigen Patienten im modernen Hotel Katharinenhof gegenüber.Parkplätze in der Nähe unserer Zahnarztpraxis: Tiefgarage am Bahnhof, Parkplätze "Bremmer Mühle"Wir haben ein eigenes Praxislabor.Unsere klimatisierte Zahnarztpraxis ist behindertengerecht eingerichtet.Wir machen Hausbesuche. 2005.12.07.

(5) , 2005.12.07.

(6) 2005.12.05.

(7) 2005.12.07.

(8) , 2005.12.07.

(9) 2005.12.07.


Philip Kotler: Marketing menedzsment. Bp.: Műszaki Könyvkiadó, 1998

Reiss, Katharina: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Übersetzungskritik. München: Max Hueber, 1971

14.2. Regionen und transnationale Prozesse

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For quotation purposes:
Veronika Pólay (Dániel Berzsenyi College, German Department, Szombathely, Hungary): Homepages of Dentists in Hungary and Internationally - A Linguistic and Marketing Analysis. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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