1) Indirectness as a Persuasive Tool in Television
Commercials
2) Gender as a Social variable in Sociolinguistic
studies
3) Rereading the ads: a CDA Approach
Spoken Discourse
 It is better to define discourse ‘language in use’
than ‘language above the sentence’.
 ‘Language in use’: language used to do
something and mean something, language
produced and interpreted in a real-world
context.
(implicitly contrasted to the idealized, made-up
example sentences )
Indirectness as a persuasive tool in
advertising
Advertising
 The term ‘advertising’ comes down to us from
the Latin verb ‘advertere’ to direct one’s
attention to.
 It is any type or form of public announcement
intended to direct people’s attention to the
availability, qualities, and/or cost of specific
commodities or services.
 Advertising can be seen to fall into three
main categories:
1) consumer advertising, which is directed towards the
promotion of some product or service to the general
public;
2) trade advertising, which is directed to dealers and
professionals through appropriate trade publications
and media, and
3) Public relations advertising, which is directed
towards society by citizens or community groups, or
by politicians, in order to promote some issues of
social concern or political agenda.
Persuasion
 It is a process of inducing a voluntary change in
someone’s attitudes, beliefs or behavior through the
transmission of a message(Anderson, 1978).
 The means for transmitting a persuasive message is
language.
 Television, in particular, provides a well-developed
example of the use of spoken language for
persuasive ends.
Indirectness
 When an interrogative structure such as can you
ride a bike? ..is used with function of a question,
it is described as a direct speech act. (to obtain
information)
 When an interrogative structure such as can
you pass me the salt?.. is used to make a request,
it is described as an indirect speech act
Forms
Did you eat the pizza?
Eat the pizza(please!)
We ate the pizza.
Interrogative
Imperative
Declarative
Functions
question
Command
Statement
 Whenever one of the structures is used to
perform a function that is not corresponding to
its form, the result is an indirect speech acts.
Grice’s Co-operative principle
 There is an underlying in most conversational exchanges
seems to be that the participants are cooperating with
each other. Supporting this principle are four maxims,
which are:
 The Quantity maximum: Make your contribution as is
required, but not more, or less, than required.
 The Quality maxim: do not that which you believe to be
false or for which you lack adequate evidence.
 The Relation Maxim: be relevant.
 The Manner Maxim: be clear, brief and orderly.
Conventional Implicature
 However, we can experience conversational
exchanges in which the co-operative principle
may not be in operation ( that is one of the
maxims is violated).
 An addressee will imply something that is not
said relying on his background knowledge that
must be shared by the conversational
participants.
Linguistics and the Discourse of advertising
 Studies of the discourse of advertising with a
linguistic focus are relatively rare.
 Two major studies have been conducted which
focus specifically on the language used in this
advertising type(consumer advertising).
Lakoff (1981)
 Lakoff noticed extensive use of novel terms on
all levels of linguistic analysis ( phonological,
lexical, syntactic as well as semantic novelty) .
 Lakoff accounts for this extensive use of linguistic
novelty as follows:
First, anything neologistic, draws attention to itself,
thus increasing the impact of the message. (see
Grice,1975).
Second, neologism forces the hearer to interpret, and
therefore, to participate in the discourse.
• According to Lakoff, this active role played by the
hearer, in turn, enhances learning and retention,
and consequently persuasion.
Geis(1982)
 He examined 800 American TV commercials
 Geis’s Findings: Two general approaches taken
by advertisers in their language use (persuasive
language).
Geis’ Findings (1982)
 The first, the manipulative use of language which is
the frequent repetition of the product name with
little or no supporting argument given as to the
merits of the product itself.
 The second, the viewer is presented with a message
whose impact derives from his/her evaluation of
the arguments or claim which it contains rather
than the merits of the product itself.
 Probably the major finding of this research,
however, was that advertisers favor indirect means
of making claims for their products.
 The advertisers invite the reader to infer
information through a process of conversational or
conventional implicature .
 Geis has explained the use of conversational and
conventional implicature in advertising on two
grounds.
 First, advertisers protect themselves from
prosecution for what might be indefensible claims.
 Second, the viewers’ cognitive defenses are much
less likely to be stimulated by that which is not
asserted directly.
There are some other reasons e.g., ephumisim as well
as avoiding the taboos.
 Since the claims made are implied , viewers will
generally derive the intended interpretation, but with
less counterargumentation.
 Thus, he hypothesized that this approach to making
claims could actually make the message more
persuasive in effect than direct claims stated explicitly.
 Gies discovered that the literal strength of these
claims is often severely mitigated through the use of
modal verbs such as can, might, may, could, and
help.
An Analysis of conversational
commercials
by Karen Hunlod
Hunold believes that:
 Indirect utterances permit some information to be
conveyed through conversational implicature and
interactive frames, increasing the total information
content. This means linguistic indirectness is frequently
used to accomplish multiple goals.
 Indirect utterances is motivated by the demands of timeconstrained limitation of the tv advert.
 Linguistic indirectness serves more than one advertiser
goal, leading to the hypothesis that indirectness is simply
a verbal strategy for product presentation.
It contextualizes the
commercial conversation
 The commercial message must work on two levels:
 The local level, it must present an on-screen
interaction with the essential structure elements of
coherence, such as introduction, body, and
conclusion.
 The fundamental level, the commercial also
presents the product to the viewer, serving the
communicative event between advertiser and
consumer.
It identifies the
commercial intents.
Two examples analyzed by Karen
Hunlod
Ad no.1
The Script
A: I’v been cooking chili for 20 years.
B: Well, I’ve been eating chili for 25.
A: So we both know what makes Dennison’s chili
great chili. It’s those firm tender beans.
B: It’s that lean juicy beef.
A: Larry, all you know about beef is ropin’ it.
C: people can get awfully hot over chili but one thing they
do agree..
A: it’s gotta be rich=
B:
=and thick=
= like Dennison’s
See how my fork stands up=
B:
=fork? Now, who eats chili
with a fork?
C: Dennson’s. So rich and thick, there’s no room for
argument
Conversational Commercials
 The commercial script have been stripped of its
visual and non-verbal features.
 The language alone conveys enough information to
1) contextualize the commercial conversation and,
2) identify the commercial intents(recognize the
product and the product attributes emphasized) in
the commercial.
The local level: presenting a
coherent on-screen interaction
Introduction, body, and conclusion
Commercial Introductions
 The first two turns in this commercial orient the
viewer to the situation, providing enough
information about the speakers and the context
that the viewer can follow the rest of the
interaction.
 By using well-known expressions, the advertiser is
able to tap on the wealth of the socio-cultural
information brought by the viewer to the
advertising context.
The Script
Speaker A establishes background
information in his first turn.
A: I’v been cooking chili for 20 years.
B: Well, I’ve been eating chili for 25.
A: So we both know what makes Dennison’s chili
great chili. It’s those firm tender beans.
B: It’s that lean juicy beef.
A: Larry, all you know about beef is ropin’ it.
“well” indicates that the following
utterance somehow violates
expectations.
Speaker B appears to cut off the
first speaker.
The Script Introduction
 That the two speakers are not cooperatively
constructing a single message is further revealed
by “well” at the beginning of the second turn.
 This impression of competition orients the
viewer to the interpersonal dynamics of the
speakers.
The Script Body
 The disagreement continues throughout the
commercial, with each speaker offering his own
opinions in opposition to those of his
conversational partner, it is no accident that
through this disagreement, the product is
presented to viewers.
Commercial Conclusions
 Commercial conclusions also organize the onscreen
event. Like any other type of closing, these
conclusions wind up the present activity.
 This occurs simultaneously on both the onscreen
level and on the fundamental level between the
advertiser and the viewer.
The Script Conclusion
 We find a strong closing strategy exhibited in
the script. The two speakers competed for the
floor throughout the commercials, indicated by
the production of similarly constructed but
lexically different claims.
 In the closing turns, they resolve the
competition over the product (and move it to a
different field). Breaking the pattern is a way of
indicating that the episode is complete.
C: people can get awfully hot over chili but one thing they
do agree..
A: it’s gotta be rich=
B:
=and thick=
= like Dennison’s
See how my fork stands up=
B:
=fork? Now, who eats chili
with a fork?
C: Dennson’s. So rich and thick, there’s no room for
argument.
a voiceover closes the commercial,
reinforcing the competition of the episode.
The local level
 One can see that each utterance contributes to
the organization of the onscreen activity, how it
informs and orients the viewer not so much about
the product as on-going activity.
The fundamental level: Communication
between advertiser and viewer
How utterances serve the advertiser
The Fundamental Level
 Three distinct functions which utterances can
serve for the advertiser:
1) They can present the product,
2)They can contextualize the product, the
product use, or product users;
3) they can support the product presentation
(Hunold, 1987a).
1) Presenting the product
 In the Script , quite a few utterances clearly
present the product.
The Script
Speaker A product
Presentation
A: I’v been cooking chili for 20 years.
B: Well, I’ve been eating chili for 25.
A: So we both know what makes Dennison’s chili
great chili. It’s those firm tender beans.
B: It’s that lean juicy beef.
A: Larry, all you know about beef is ropin’ it.
Speaker B Product
Presentation
C: people can get awfully hot over chili but one thing they
do agree..
A: it’s gotta be rich=
B:
=and thick=
= like Dennison’s
See how my fork stands up=
B:
=fork? Now, who eats chili
with a fork?
C: Dennson’s. So rich and thick, there’s no room for
argument.
the two speakers jointly present the product in
their utterance
The contextualization of the product
 They also contextualize product use,
demonstrating either situations in which
product use is appropriate or indicating what
kind of people use the product.
 The script employs contextualizers which
convey such information.
 The ad indicates that people who use the
product are
 sociable,
 active, and so on.
 It indicates that the speakers are in competition,
that they are
 rivals, with the implication that the heartiness
of the speakers is mirrored in the product.
These impressions are connotations directly conveyed by
the linguistic structure of the conversationally situated used
in the commercial.
Supportive utterances
 Supportive utterances contribute to the
advertiser’s purpose by inviting product
presentation.
 In the script , the voiceover says, “ but on one
thing they do agree.” this utterance invites the
speaker to present the product, as indeed is
done.
 Each utterance also contributes to the essential
communication between advertiser and viewer.
C: people can get awfully hot over chili but one thing they
do agree..
A: it’s gotta be rich=
B:
=and thick=
= like Dennison’s
See how my fork stands up=
B:
=fork? Now, who eats chili
with a fork?
C: Dennson’s. So rich and thick, there’s no room for
argument.
the two speakers jointly present the product in
their utterance
Organizing product presentation:
Direct &Indirect Messages
 We will focus on the verbal strategies for
organizing product presentation.
 Of course , commercials exhibit a great variety
in the ways they present products.
Directness in commercials
 We might come to the conclusion that the only
direct utterances on the fundamental level, the
advertiser-consumer interaction, is of the form
“BUY THIS PRODUCT.”
 This fundamental directness must be contrasted
with the many linguistically direct utterances
which occur on the local level.
 For example:
“ Tab has only one calorie”
“Palmolive’s great;”
“ I love Soup-for-One;”
“Dove is ¼ cleaning cream.”
 They are direct on the local level, but
 are indirect on the fundamental level because it
tells you WHY you should buy the product rather
than simply to BUY the product.
 So, the linguistic directness of the local onscreen
utterance must be distinguished from directness
on the fundamental level.
 A whole range of relationships exists between
directness on the two different levels.
Indirectness
 Advertising is under conflicting pressures:
long on information, short on time.
 One way to resolve these pressures is to
accomplish multiple goals with single
utterances, thus killing two birds with one
stone.
 Indirect utterances can accomplish this. For
example,
“hard to believe that’s one calorie”
indirectly conveys
subjective information
about taste.
directly conveys factual
information about calorie
content
 Indirectness resolves the competing demands of
informing the viewer and motivating the viewer to
buy by allowing a single utterance to perform both
jobs.
 Another example of indirectness is in the slogan:
“oh Fab, we’re glad there’s full
strength fabric softener in you.”
indirectly conveys
subjective information:
something to be glad for.
directly conveys factual
information about fabric
softer
 The following exchange offers a classic example of
indirectness:
A: “Why did you buy those laxative pills instead of Feen-a-mint?”
B: “ I didn’t know Feen-a-mint ever made a pill.”
The first turn indirectly
conveys the existence of
Feen-a-mint pills.
The response indirectly conveys the impression
that, had this been known, It would have been the
laxative pill of choice.
 While conveying these impressions, the
utterances contextualize the interaction.
 Indirectness offers advertisers a linguistic
strategy for making product claims serve
more than one purpose at once.
 Some claims that could be made directly
are made indirectly in order to convey
some other message at the same time.
 For example, the indirect message
“hard to believe that’s one calorie”
accomplishes two goals instead of the single goal
of informing, had the caloric content of the soft
drink been directly conveyed.
Final Comment
 A problem from the advertiser’s point of view
with indirectness is that the addressee might
miss some point, either deliberately or
accidently.
 This potential problem can create particular
concern in advertising, when success entails the
consumers’ getting of point.
 However, indirect utterances do more than
merely convey facts.
 They actively contextualize the utterance, thereby
providing information of a different but less
important sort.
 They contribute crucially to persuasion and
consumer attitudes toward the product.
 In other words, indirectness in commercials is
simply advertisers doing with commercial language
what people in natural settings do with natural
language: when there is a need to accomplish
several goals at once, indirectness is used.
Indirectness is cultural specific
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Indirectness as a persuasive tool in advertising