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Advertising

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Advertising

    Advertising

    Volume2,No.8(SerlaINo.11)US.ChinaForeignLanguage,ISSN1539?8o,

    AdvertisingEnglishasaMeansofRepresentation:ItsFeaturesandEffects onOurThoughtandAction

    XinSu'OceanUniversityofChina

    Abstract:ByexaminingthelinguisticandculturalaspectsofadvertisingEnglish,thispaperexploresthe

    featuresandeffectsofadslanguageonourdailylifethroughsomecasestudiesandexamples.Itisconcludedthat

    manyproblemsinadvertisementsremainunsolvedandneedtobeexploredandsolvedassoonaspossible?

    Keywords:advertisingEnglishrepresentationfeatureseffects

    I.Introduction

    Advertisingisameansofrepresentationthatinfluencesourlifeinmanywaysandoperatesthroughlinguistic,

    culturalandsocialcontexts.Itattractsourattentionbyitsrichandcolorfulusingofwords,images,sounds,colors,

    paintings,photographs,andcalligraphy,etc.

    AccordingtoChrisBarker,"agooddealofculturalstudiesiscenteredonquestionsofrepresentation.thatis,

    onhowtheworldissociallyconstructedandrepresentedtoandbyus"(Barker,2000:8).Undersuch

    circumstances,itshouldbeworthwhileandnecessarytostudythediscourseofadvertisingbecauseitisoneofthe

    mostimportantwaysofrepresentationintheworldtoday.

    Whetherwelikeitornot,advertisingiseverywhere;itwinksatusfrommobilephonesandinternetmails,

    shou~atHSfromtelevisionscreensandradiobroadcasts.wavestousfromeverypageofnewspaperand

    magazines.plucksatoursleevesonescalatorsandlifts,signalstousfromroadsidebillboardsandsignposts,and

    flashesmessagestousinneonlightallnight.Infact,withtherapiddevelopmentofcommodityandconsumption

    economy,advertisinghaspenetratedintoeveryaspectofourpublicandprivatelife,reflecting,moldingand

    shapingourthoughtandactionallthetime.Inthissense,advertisingcanbecommentedtobemorepersuasive,

    intentionalandconstructivewithitspurposetomaneuverthemindandbehavior(successfullyorunsuccessfully)

    0fitstargetaudience.

    StuartHallsumsupthreestrategiesofrepresentation:reflectiveapproach.intentionalapproachand

    constructiveapproach(Hall.1997:28).Asfarasadvertisingisconcerned,itcouldbearguedthatcopywriters

    drawuponallthesetheoriesandapproachesandsparenoeffortsto"maketheendjustifythemeans",i.e.,to

    persuadeustobuywhateverisadvertised.Butmoreoftenthannot,advertisingisfoundtobe"largerthan

    lire"---itdoesnotjust"mirror"thereality,butexaggeratestwistsorevendistortsit.Wecanseethiseasilyby

    observingpeople'ssomewhatnegativeandskepticalattitudestowardsthereliabilityandcredibilityofads.

    Advertisingisoftenregardedaspropagandabycritics.andtherehasalwaysbeenprejudiceagainstitbecause

    peopleoftenbuyunnecessary,uselessandluxuriousthingsduetothepowerfulpersuasionofads.ForJudith

    Williamson.peoplearemadetoidentifythemselveswithwhattheyconsumeinsteadofwhatt

heyproduceand

    'XinSu,postgraduateandlecturerofOceanUniversityofChina;Address:ForeignLanguageCollege,OceanUniversityofChina.

    N0.23,EastXianggangRoad,Qingdao,China;Postcode:266071;Tel:0532-5894460,5892855;E-mail:jianminxiang@163169,net

    14

    AdvertisingEnglish[IsaMeansofRepresentation:It'sFeaturesandEffectsonOurThoughtandAction

    "meyaremadetobelievethattheycanriseandfallinsocietythroughwhattheyareabletobuy"(Williamson,

    1978:13).Ifthisisreallythecase,itwillnotmerelybemyownworryandconcelTIthathumanbeingsbecomeso

    vainandpretentious.

    Thelanguageandeffectsofadsonourlifedeservetobeinvestigatedcloselybecausewearestilluncertain

    abouthowadvertisingworks.Doesitactuallyappealtopeople'ssub

    consciousnessandpersuadethemtobuyor

    makebetterdecisions?Isitawasteofsocialresources?Isitgoodorevil?Isthedistinctiveandcolorful

    advertisinglanguagetrulyvalidandfeasible?Isitsomnipotencereallynecessaryandsuccessful?Itiscertainly

    beyondmypersonalknowledgeandabilitytoanswerallthesequestions.But1wouldliketoprobetheseissuesby

    firstexaminingandanalyzingtheadvertisinglanguagethatisoneofthemostimportantelementsof

    advertisements.Andhopefully,bydoingso,graduallyunravelandrevealalittlebitofthemythandmystery

    containedinthepracticeofadsinourlifetoday~Iamwellawarethatlanguagecannotandshouldnotbestudied

    andinvestigatedinisolationsinceitisalwaysincontext.andtherearenoactsofcommunicationwithout

    participants,inter-texts,situations,paralanguageandsubstance(GuyCook,1992). Furthermore.advertisinglanguageisnotatangible,staticorstableentity,buta"dynamicsynthesis''ofmany

    components,andcomesintobeingthroughthem.Nevertheless,wordsinadsoftenstandoutdistinctivelyagainst

    othercomposingelementsandadda"finishingtouch"tothewholecopy.Soitisworthwhiletohaveacloseand

    in-depthexaminationonadvertisinglanguageinordertounderstandhowittriestomaneuverourthoughtand

    action.Althoughtheeffectivenessofadsisalsolinkedtoitsvisualandacousticeffects,iventuretolookintothe

    lexicalaspecthereinthisessayduetothespaceconstraint.

    II.FeaturesofAdvertisingLanguage

    2-1WhatisAdvertising?

    AccordingtoAngelaGoddard(1998),therootoftheword"advertisement"istheLatinverb"advertere'',

    meaning"toturntowards".Inhisbook"TheAdvertisingControversy".MarkAlbiondefinesadvertisingas"any

    paidformofnon

    personalrepresentationandpromotionofideas,goodsorservicesbyanidentifiedsponsor'' (Albion,1981:9).Advertisingthushastwomajorfunctions:itprovidesinformationandpersuadesustobuy.

    However,notalladssellproductsorservicessuchasthoseforcharities,publicwelfareandpoliticalparties,

    whichpleadorwarnorseeksupport.

    Cook(2000)inhisbook"TheDiscourseofAdvertising"indicatesthedifficultyofdefiningadvertisingand

    emphasizesthe"categoriesofads".Heregardsadvertisingasaprominenttypeofdiscoursein

allcontemporary

    societies;andbecauseofthisprominence.itcantellusalotaboutourownsocietyandourownpsychology.So

    forCook.theanalysisofadsboilsdowntothequestionofdiscourse,whichjsbothtextualandcontextual,

    interactinginawaywhichisperceivedasmeaningfulandunifiedbytheparticipantswhoarebothpartofthe

    contextandobserversofit.

    2.2TheLanguageofAdvertising

    AsstatedbyHall,"representationistheproductionofthemeaningoftheconceptsinourmindsthrough

    language"(Hall,1997:17).Andlanguageisacomplexformofactivity,asystemofsounds,words,patterns?signs,

    symbols,gestures,etc.usedbyhumanstoconveyinformationortocommunicatethoughtsandfeelings.'itis

    generallydividedintophonology(studyofthesystemofspeechsounds),lexicology(studyofvocabulary)and

    .SeeHomby,A.S.OxfordAdvancedLearner'sDictionary1997(Fourthedition).Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress.

AdvertisingEnglishItsaMeansofRepresenta———

    tion:It,sFeatur

    e——

    s——

    a———

    n

    dEffectsonOurThoughtandAction

    grammar.GeoffreyLeech(1966)pointsoutinhis"EnglishinAdvertising"thatitiscustomarytosplitthestudy

    ofgrammaratwordrankintomorphology(grammarwithintheword)andsyntax(grammarou

tsidetheword).

    Advertisinglanguage,initsbroadsense,isacombinationandinteractionofmanycomponents,a"systemof

    signs"throughwhichideasaleexpressed,communicatedandrepresentedmeaningfully.Itisregardedandtreated

    cobe"loadedlanguage"bylinguists,copywriters,studentsofadvertisingandthosewhoareinterestedinandkeen

    toexamineitclosel~l'Cookagainindicatesthecomplexityanddifficultyofanalyzingwordsinadvertising.He

    writes,"Anyanalysisofthelanguageofadsimmediatelyencounterstheparadoxthatitbothmustandcannottake

    themusicalandpictorialmodesintoaccountaswell"(Cook,l992:37).Itisquiteevidentthatadvertisingmostly

    operatesinallmodesandmediaatonceandsometimespicturesandmusicaretheessenceofthecommunication:

    creatingmood,impartinginformation,persuadingandmakingclaimsbytheirspecialaudioandvisualeffects.

    However,-thisdoesnotandshouldnotpreventusfromanalyzingadslanguageandseeinghowitoperatesinour

    dailylife.

    Asmentionedabove,advertisingaimstochangethewill,opinionorattitudeofitstargetaudience.urging

    themtobuyaparticularproductorformacertainmentaldisposition.Todothis,advertisershavetoresortto

    efficientuseofadslanguageandcopywritersarewellknownfortheirtechniquesofplayingonwordsand

    manipulatingordistortingtheireverydaymeanings;theybreaktherulesoflanguage,usewordsoutofcontextand

    evenmakeupnewones.Theauthorwouldnowproceedtoanalyzeadslanguageinthreeaspects:itsmorphology,

    syntaxandrhetoricaldeviceswiththepurposeofunderstandinghowadvertisingrepresentsthegoodsorservices

    onthesedifferentlevels.

    2.2.1EnglishMorphologyinAdvertising

    a.InnovativeSpelling

    Asameansofconveyinginformationwithinalimitedtimeandspace,advertisingEnglishdiffersfromother

    discoursetypesinthatitismainlysuccinct,vivid,imaginative,emotive,evocativeandappealing.Asfarasthe

    vocabularyisconcerned,manyadvertisersmakeuseofmisspellings,newprefixesandsuffixesorevencoinnovel

    andgrotesquewordstodrawourattentiontowhatisadvertised.Forexample,inanadofmilk,misspellingsare

    employed:DrinkaPintaMilkaDay,whichsoundsmorerhythmicandattractivethan"Drinkapintofmilkaday''.

    Tosomepeopleitmightsoundlikealineofapoemoralyricofasong.Anotherexample:theOrangemostest

    drinkintheworld.Itrepresentstheidea

    thehighqualityandpurityofthebeverage.Inbrandnamessuchas

    RiceKfispies,RyvitaandBrylcreem,theelements"Krisp","Ry''and"Creem''arestillmeaningfulalthoughthey

    aredeliberatelymisspelled.Bymakingsuchkindofrepresentation,copywriterslenduniquenessandcharm0the

    productstheyadvertise.?

    b.Loanwords

    Franceisworldfamousforitswine,food,cosmetics,fashion,etc.;somanycopywritersuseFrenchwordsor

    morphemeslike"deluxe","la","le","de","caf6",and"boutique''intheiradstocreateanelegantandexotic

flavor.FamousandsuccessfulbrandnamessuchasKFC.MacdonaldandCoca

    Coladon'tbothertobetranslated

    inotherculturesbecausetheyareeverywhereandeverybodyknowsthem.AsBarkerputsit,"thephrase"Coca

    Colaculture''encapsulatestheglobalreachofthispromotionalcultureandhighlightstheallegedlinkbetween

    globalcapitalism,advertisingandculturalhomogenization"(Barker,2Ooo:287). c.Verbs

    ThefrequentUSeofsomemonosyllableverbsisalsoquiteobviousinadvertising.Leechsumsupthe

    followingverbsasthemostcommonlyusedones:make,get,give,have,see;buy,come,go,know,keep;look.

    l6

    AdvertisingEnglishasaMeansofRepresentation:It'sFeaturesandEffectsonOurThoughtandAction

    d.Exclamationisproportionallyover-representedinads.

    Giventherestrictedtimeandspace,thereisnowonderthatadvertsshouldbeasco ,

    nciseandforcefulas

    possibleandactasafinalurgetoaction.Interrogativesandimperativesareoftenexploitedsincetheynormally

    requireanactive,preferablypositiveresponsefromaddressees.Inthe2002TescomagazinepromotingChristmas

    sales,alotofexamplescanbefoundtoprovetheabove

    mentionedsyntaxpropertiesinadvertisingEnglish+

    ''Lifeissweet"forsweets;''Saycheese!"forcheese;

    "Goforglamour!Areyouafteradifferentlookforaparty?Transformyourhairin

minuteswitho111"stepbystepguidetoDIYstyling

    you'11findeverythingyouneedinstore7

    "Pureindulgence!Treatyoursweettoothtothissumptuousselectionofmouth-watering cakesandbiscuits.Bestenjoyedwithacupofteaandyourfeetup

    2.2.3RhetoricalDevicesinEnglishAdvertising

    Advertisinglanguageissometimesquitestandardandunobtrusive,butmoreoftenitattractsattentionto

    itselfbybeinghighlycolorful,vividandimaginative.It''frequentlystretchesorbreakstherulesorconventionsof

    normallanguage"(GillianDyer'1982:152).Theunorthodoxandfigurativeuseofadvertisinglanguagecanbe

    foundeasilyintherhetoricaldevicessuchasplayonwords.personification,allusion;parallelism(repetitionof

    formalpaaerns).assonance(repetitionofvowelsounds),alliteration(repetitionofinitialconsonantsorconsonant

    features);simile,metaphor,metonymy,synecdoche;paradox,hyperboleandsof0rth. AccordingtoDyer,theword"rhetoric"meanstheeffectiveorartfuluseofspeechandwriting.Itcan"clarify

    oraddstrengthandimpacttopersuasiveoratoryandcomeupfrequentlyinanyanalysisofadvertisingsinceit

    referstothosetechniques,usuallyverbal,thataredesignedandemployedtopersuadeandimpresspeople"(Dyer,

    1982:158).Thisfeaturemakestherhetoricaldeviceausefulconceptforthestudyofvisuallanguageaswellas

    written/spokenlanguage.Inthisessay,theauthorshalljustexaminethewrittenmessageespeciallycatchwords

    andslogansofadvertisingrhetoricdevices(thebodycopyofsomeadsaretoolongtobeanalyzedhere).

    Figurativelanguageisusedbyusalmosteveryday,consciouslyorunconsciously. Communicationwouldbeverydullifwedidn't.Wesometimessay"thekettleisboiling"(syne

cdoche)

    insteadof"thewaterisboiling"and''rmstarving"(hyperbole)whileweallhungry.Itisofcourseimpossibleto

    coveralltheabove

    mentionedmeansofadvertisingrhetoricinashortessaylikethis+Therefore,thefollowing devicesarejustafewdropsinthevastoceanofadvertisinglanguage.

    a.Puns

    Punsareverypopularinadsbecausetheyattracttheattentionofboredrecipients,saturatedwithads.The

    often-citedexampleis"Playersplease''forAmerican''Players"cigarette.Itcanbereadaseither''Pleasegiveme

    somePlayers"or''Playersarepleasing".Theslogan"Spoilyourselfandnotyourfigure''for"weightwatchers''

    icecreamisanotherexampleofplayingontheword"spoil".

    Itinvolvesinterpretingitintheidiomas"enjoy

    yourselftoyourheart'scontent"andasawordinitsownright.

    Theadvertistargetedatweightwatcherswho

    mayfinditdifficulttoresistthetemptationofthedeliciousicecream.Byutilizingitsambiguityordouble

    meaning,whichthelinguistscall''homonymy",copywritersintendtocreateasenseofhumourandtoprovoke

    interestinthead.

    b.PersonIllcation

    AccordingtoOxfordDictionary,personificationistheinstancesoftreatingsomethingthatiswithoutlifeasa

    humanbeingorrepresentingitinhumanform.Lookatthefollowingadsinwhichtllebraandtheflowershopare

    givenhumanabilities.

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