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Research of vague language in advertising based on speech act theory

By Rose Woods,2014-05-25 17:04
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Research of vague language in advertising based on speech act theoryAct,act

    摘要

    在现代社会,广告在商业领域里占有重要一席,且已渗透入我们生活的各个方面。 广告作为传输商品和服务信息的一种方式,产生了不可低估的作用,它已经在一定程度上改变了人们的生活观念和消费意识,进而影响了社会和经济的发展。从最初直白式的诉求,到现在追求形式与内容二者统一结合,广告始终是一种纯粹的商业性诉求活动。这种性质决定了使用广告的目的在于打动和说服受众认可商品或服务,并促使他们实施消费行为,为商家带来更大利润。广告的这一功利性易使受众对广告行为产生不合作心理。为了消除受众对广告产品的疑虑,广告人通常使用模糊语言来减弱或者消除广告语言给受众带来的强势感觉,并且利用这些模糊语言给消费者以强烈的心理暗示让他们从心理上对产品产生好感并接受产品,从而说服他们实施购买行为。本文以奥斯丁和塞尔的言语行为理论为理论基础,以国内外广告语中的模糊语言为研究对象,对这些语料进行分类、对比、实证分析。

    论文的第一部分先介绍了国内外学者对本课题的研究历史以现状,然后对所需的理论基础-奥斯汀的言语行为理论及塞尔对该理论的发展作了梳理概括,最后给出广告语言的定义及其特点。在第二部分,对研究的对象-广告中的模糊语作了一些介绍,将广告语的模糊性分为三大类并对模糊语的特点进行了概括。第三部分中列举了众多广告实例,并用言语行为理论加以分析,观点如下:广告模糊语在实施言语行为时运用语言的模糊、词语模糊、限制语以及辞格模糊等策略使得广告言语行为更含蓄、委婉,而商业广告因其不可直接表露其功利性,广告中的模糊语言在实施“以言行事”的言语行为时更倾向于使用间接言语行为而非直接言语行为,因此广告模糊语言比其他的言语行为表现出更明显的暗示性和灵活性。广告中合理得使用模糊语无疑可取得既经济又高效的宣传效果。

    关键词: 模糊语言; 广告; 言语行为理论

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    Abstract

    In the modern world, advertising plays an important role in commercial field and permeates in all aspects of our daily life. As a way of information transmission, advertising changed our view of life and consumer awareness; affect and contributed a lot to the social and economic development. Todays advertising is in pursuit of

    perfect combination of content and form from the initial straight-forward demand. However, advertising is a pure commercial activity, this nature determines the ultimate goal of advertising is to convince and persuade the audience to accept products or services and pay for them, thus making profit for the merchants. While due to the utilitarian essence of advertising, audience may have resistance or uncooperative attitude. To eliminate this resentment, advertisers use vague language to release and weaken the utilitarian feeling of advertising and implies them to accept and thus purchase. Based on Austins Speech Act Theory and Searles development to

    this theory, the author classifies, compares and analyses the selected vague language materials in advertising in China and abroad.

    The first part of this thesis introduces domestic and abroad studies on this topic, the basic knowledge of Austins Speech Act Theory and Searles development and the

    definition of advertising language as well as its features. In part two, vagueness in advertising language is divided into three categories and the features of vague language is also elaborated. In the last part, which is the most important, the author uses the Speech Act Theory to study the examples in advertising and concludes that: vagueness approaches in advertisements comprise phonetic vagueness, semantic vagueness, hedges vagueness and rhetoric vagueness to achieve implication, Since

    advertisers cannot show utilitarianism in commercials, they use more indirect speech

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    acts than direct speech acts in vague lanuguage which characterize advertising vague language with more implication and flexibility. Reasonable usage of vagueness in advertising can make propaganda economically and effectively.

    Key words: vague language; advertising; speech act theory

    III

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    目录

摘要 .................................................................................................................................................. I

    Abstract ............................................................................................................................................ II

    1 Introduction................................................................................................................................... 1

    1.1 Purpose and Significance ................................................................................................... 1

    1.2 Relevant Research in China and abroad ............................................................................ 2 2 Literature Review ......................................................................................................................... 7

    2.1 Austin's Speech Act Theory ............................................................................................... 7

    2.1.1 Performatives and Constatives ................................................................................ 7

    2.1.2 Speech Act Theory .................................................................................................. 9 2.2 Searle‘s Further Development............................................................................................ 9 3 Vague Language in Advertising ................................................................................................... 11

    3.1 Advertising Language ....................................................................................................... 11

    3.1.1 Definition of Advertising Language ...................................................................... 11

    3.1.2 Features of Advertising Language ........................................................................ 12 3.2 Vague Language ............................................................................................................... 14

    3.2.1 Definition of Vague Language .............................................................................. 14

    3.2.2 Features of Vague Language ................................................................................. 16 3.3 Realization of Vague Language in Advertising ................................................................ 18

    3.3.1 Semantic Realization ............................................................................................ 18

    3.3.2 Syntactical Realization.......................................................................................... 20

    3.3.3 Pragmatic Realization ........................................................................................... 21 4 Analysis of Vague Language in Advertising Based on Speech Act Theory ................................ 27 4.1 Usage of Vagueness in Speech Sounds ............................................................................ 27 4.2 Usage of SemanticVagueness .......................................................................................... 29

    4.2.1 Vagueness of Verbs ............................................................................................... 30

    4.2.2 Vagueness of Adjectives........................................................................................ 32

    4.2.3 Vagueness of Numerals ......................................................................................... 35 4.3 Usage of Hedges .............................................................................................................. 36

    4.3.1 Shields ................................................................................................................... 37

    4.3.2 Approximators ...................................................................................................... 38 4.4 Usage of Rhetorical Vagueness ........................................................................................ 40

    4.4.1 Pun ........................................................................................................................ 41

    4.4.2 Exaggeration ......................................................................................................... 43

    4.4.3 Analogy ................................................................................................................. 44

    4.5 Two Expressions of Speech Act in Advertising Language .............................................. 46

    4.5.1 Direct Speech Act ................................................................................................. 47

    4.5.2 Indirect Speech Act ............................................................................................... 48 5 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................. 53

    IV

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    5.1 Findings ........................................................................................................................... 53

    5.2 Limitations ....................................................................................................................... 54 Acknowledgement ......................................................................................................................... 56 Bibliography .................................................................................................................................. 57

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    1 Introduction

    1.1 Purpose and Significance

    Language plays an important role in advertising since its origin. Advertisements affect our social life and thinking mode through advertising language. Therefore, the research on language usage in advertisements is particularly important, and vague language in ads language can not be ignored. So it is necessary to do linguistic study on vague ads language. As an applied language, advertising language plays a vital role in information communication. In moset cases, advertising language is

    non-interactive dialogue instead of face-to-face talk. While, the dialogic nature of advertising language, in other words, the nature of a dialogue between advertiser or merchant and potential buyer, endows advertising language with distinguished features that differ from other speech acts and common features that shared with other speech acts. Advertisers perform one or more acts by using vague language, which has brought the audience some illocutionary effects, such as provoking interest on some products; having good impression on products or services and thus purchase, etc. So advertising vague language becomes a persuasive or induced speech act and a pragmatic act from the perspective of pragmatics.

    The thesis concentrates on vague language in commercial advertisement of narrow sense, chooses qualitative research approaches with principal means of combination of introspection, basic theories in linguistics and advertising examples. This thesis objects at vague language examples in advertisements, use Austin and

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    ______________________________________________________________________________ Searles speech act theory as analyzing tool to make classification, comparatin and analysis of the materials. During the analyzing process, the combination of description and explanation, and to try to make the desciption close to the real and rational explanation, summed up the tendency in vague language using, revealed the laws used by vague language, and thus audience could understand the internal construction of advertising information, get the messages effectively and guide the consumer behavior. On the other hand, advertisers can make advantages of vague language to creat, to enhance the persuative force, to communicate advertising information more effectively, and attract more audience by better communicative effect. Moreover, this thesis may play a positive role in research on vagua ad language henceforce.

    1.2 Relevant Research in China and abroad

    In 1965, American scholar L.A.Zadeh published Fuzzy Sets Theory on the

    magazine Information and Control, in which for the first time he introduced the

    notion of fuzziness into mathematics and proposed the theory of fuzzy sets. This

    signifies the origin of vagueness theory. After that, a new inter-disciplinary subject vague linguistics came into being and linguistics began to include vagueness in their domain of research. Many foreign scholars researched on vague linguistics from various perspectives, such as, Lakoff studied vague linguistics from the perspective of vague logic. In his point of view, the boundary between different word meanings is vague and hedges is the most important factor, and he pointed out the differences between hedges like technically speaking and strictly speaking and regularly

    and sort of. In Professor Williamsons book Vagueness he discussed vagueness,

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    ______________________________________________________________________________ especially the causes from the perspective of cognition. He pointed out that, to human beings, vagueness was a cognitive problem which traditional logic and semantics could not solve, and the best explanation to natural vagueness in language is vagueness in cognition. Australian linguist Burns. L. C also made some contribution to English vagueness, Burns considered vague language as a pragmatic issue in his book Vagueness:an investigation into natural languages and the Sorites paradox.

    Besides, Wallsten and his cooperators studied how to express the vagueness of words that express possibility within the pragmatic approach. And Leech and Nikula studied hedges from the angle of discourse analysis, while Franken discussed hedges based on theory of relevance. From the perspective of pragmatics, the current researches on hedges can be summarized asresearches on politeness, mitigation,

    modality and vagueness. In China, research on vague linguistics began in late 1970s, it is generally accepted that the paper Preliminary Study on Vague Linguistics by Wu

    Tieping is the earliest study on vague linguistics by applying vagueness theory in the academic circle. This work symbolized the beginning of vague linguistics in China. After that, Wu published a lot of research papers on vagueness of language successively and made a collection Vague Linguistics. After the foundation of vague

    linguistics in China, more than one hundred papers are published on semantic vagueness and research on vagueness in China has developed a lot in nearly twenty years. The domain of vague linguistics was enriched and widened by Wus combining

    the synchronous comparison of vague language with study on lexicology and rhetoric. Moreover, Yiqiang summarized the basic features of vagueness in the article On the

    Basic Features of Semantic Vagueness as: integrity, uncertainty, relativity, degree, and uncancelability. With the view that language vagueness came from not only the object

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    ______________________________________________________________________________ but also the subject as well as the bilateral interaction, Wen Qiaoping analyzed the source of language vagueness in the article On the Source of Language Vagueness.

    While Zhang Huaru hold that features of human cognition, systematic characteristics of language system, social factors and the objective world all could cause language vagueness. Fang Wei claimed that vague semantic and accurate semantic can

    reciprocally transfer in certain conditions, for example, changes of context, different perspectives of diachronic and synchronic research, and some external regulations, etc., in the article Mutual Transfer of Vague and Accurate Semantic in Different Conditions,.

    Since the nineties of last century, many scholars have used different theories from different angles to do multi-dimensional, scientific and meticulous studies on vagueness in advertising language. These researches concerned vague languages

    pragmatic function in advertisement, vague words and tactics or stratrgies of vagueness, and the main achievements can be divided into two parts. The first aspect is the discussion of causes of using vague language in advertising. Some scholars made thorough analysis on the objective and subjective causes of widely use of vague language in advertisements. Such articles or papers discussed the presence of vague ad language from the origin, which established a cornerstone for the studied henceforce. Crystal and Davy categorized the causes into four types: language itself has no such a rule to express accurately or the communicators dont know how to

    express exactly; topic of conversation itself does not need an accurate expression; the communicator have forgotten the exact expression and deliberate use of vague language, and made a conclusion, from perspective of pragmatics, that vagueness in advertising is from the fourth cause, i.e, advertisers use vague language deliberately

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    ______________________________________________________________________________ to reach a certain effect or purpose. Chen Yuxia argues that vagueness is an attribute of advertising language, a objective being from the view of objective content reflected by advertising, or tacit and experiential from the view of subject content reflected by advertising. Correct treatment of vague language in advertising will help giving full play to its effectiveness. The second angle of the studies is the tactics and functions of vague language in advertising. Tactics of using vague language in advertising is of various types. These tactics are from perspectives of advertising, the objects contains phonetic vagueness, vague vocabulary, hedges and traditional rhetoric vagueness. Moreover, the studies further discuss the impact on advertising effect caused by vague language, the scholars hold that vagueness widely spread in advertising language, in fact, the essence of vagueness is a issue of pragmatics. Therefore, research of vague language in advertising should be taken based on pragmatics, i.e., the study is meaningful only from the perspective of language using and understanding. Ouyang Qiaolin believes that vague language used in advertisement from any perspective aims at the same goal, that is to enhance the advertising effect. She summed up the common types of vague language in advertising and analyses their pragmatic functions from four different perspective: function of providing correct information, function of advertisers self-protection,

    function of human communication establishment and function of humorous language forms construction. Framed on Verschuerens theory of linguistic ataptation, Hu

    Yuhui researched on the pragmatic vagueness in advertising and hold that advertisers

    adaptation process should be analysed from social, mental and physical aspects or from perspectives of audiences personality, emotion, pursuit of material and

    non-material interests. Meanwhile, social customs, social norms and social contexts

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