Resource Centre

The Language of Advertising

With thanks to Alan Papprill, Otahuhu College

Acronyms: an abbreviation that is pronounced as a word, e.g., NATO, HART, SCUBA, QANTAS.

Adjectival Phrase: a phrase that, added to the noun, will describe the object more fully.

Adverbial intensifier: an adverb modifying another verb, e.g., very poorly, extremely well.

Affective meaning: the meanings associated with a word based on the audience's emotional response.

Affirmative: an assertion that something is so.

Alliteration: the commencing of successive words with the same letter or syllable for effect.

Allusion: a reference to an event, story, poem... that may be held in common with the audience.

Ambiguity: construction or usage that has more than one possible meaning.

Anacoluthon: a change in mid-sentence, e.g., What I... I think I should go.

Archaism: an obsolete word.

Assonance: resemblance of sound between two syllables usually dependent on the vowels.

Bias: A weighting which favours one particular point of view.

Bondage: when a dependent clause is bound to an independent clause in a sentence, e.g., After we had finished dinner, the children kindly offered to do the dishes. (The first clause is the dependent clause.)

Circumlocution: speaking or writing in a round-about way, usually to confuse the audience.

Colloquialism: an idiom used in familiar speech, e.g., They wound up the party.

Comparative construction: a statement that offers a comparison between objects.

Complex sentence: a sentence containing one main (independent) clause and at least one subordinate (dependent) clause.

Compound sentence: a sentence containing at least two main (independent) clauses.

Compound-complex sentence: a combination of the preceding two sentences.

Compound pre-modifier: a double-barreled adjective that makes use of a hyphen for grammatical sense, e.g., state-of-the-art computer.

Connotation: the special, often emotive, sense of a given word. (cf denotation), e.g., scent vs fragrance, smell vs stink.

Contraction: word(s) shortened by use of apostrophe, e.g., don't, couldn't.

Co-text: a term to describe a source of material under discussion, whether it is complete or partial.

Denotation: a dictionary definition of a word. (cf connotation)

Dialect: a mode of a given language's speech peculiar to a region or country.

Didactic: in a teaching like manner. Language that intends to instruct.

Discursive sentence: a sentence that is not necessarily to the point, allowing the desired response to be interpreted as the receiver wants.

Disjunctive sentence: a sentence that provides a contrast or choice within it.

End stopped: a line of verse that ends at the end of a syntactic unit that is usually followed by a pause in speaking and a punctuation mark in writing.

Euphemism: a softer, less direct, less coarse synonym, e.g., passed away = died.

Exclamatory: a statement written as a exclamation!

Hyberbole: deliberate overstatement for effect, e.g., Thousands use ...

Idiom: a peculiar mode of expression, colloquial, words that are not to be taken literally, e.g., the red carpet treatment, blue blood.

Imperative: commands, e.g., Buy Now! or Get it on!

Incomplete sentence: a sentence lacking a complete clause. (also minor sentence )

Interrogative: a statement framed as a question.

Intimacy Signals: expressions with little meaning, acting as signals or "attention getters." (also fillers )

Inversion: reversal of normal word order, often used in poetry for effect or because of rhyming pattern requirements; "Home I went." instead of "I went home."

Irony: when the actual meaning of a statement means the opposite; e.g., calling a bald man "Curly."

Jargon: vocabulary used by a special or specific group.

Linkage: Usually linkage is indicated by a linking particle (but, and, or, yet, either) or a shared element (e.g., Maori numbers dwindled and Maori standards fell) or a repeated word (e.g., All land, ultimately, was tribal land; units within the tribe had rights over it) or a pronoun, (e.g., Leaders were effective among their people; they could show them how to grow.) or by punctuation (e.g., The police arrested him in the village; there was no anger and no resistance).

Litotes: deliberate understatement for effect, e.g., "It's nothing, just a broken arm."

Loan words: words borrowed from other languages and used without change, e.g., faux pas, apartheid, kayak.

Medium: there are two mediums/media - primary (spoken) and secondary (written).

Metaphor: the transference of the name or descriptive term of one object to a different object.

Mode: forms to describe various media (prose, interior monologue, monologue, script, transcript, soliloquy, fictional speech, poetry, etc).

Monologue: one speaker (cf dialogue, polylogue).

Neologism: a newly invented word.

Non-sequitur: logic term meaning "it does not follow."

Officialese: jargon of politicians, diplomats, solicitors, and any other group who does not want to divulge the truth through clarity.

Paralinguistic: non-verbal communication signals or expressions which convey meaning.

Passive verb: a sentence in which the subject suffers the action of the verb e.g., Active = "The car hit him." Passive = "He was hit by the car. "

Personal Pronouns:: words that take the place of a noun. I, me, my, he, she, it, you, your, they, them, their. Personal Pronouns are used extensively in advertising because they refer to the people involved in the communication.
First person includes the speaker(s) or writer(s) of the message: I, me, my, mine,myself, we, us, our(s), ourselves.
Second person includes the people spoken to but excludes the speaker: You, your(s), yourself, yourselves.
Third Person refers to third parties - excluding the speaker and receiver: he, him, his, she, her(s), they, them, their(s).

Personification: giving human qualities to non-human objects.

Phatic communion: small talk, polite conversation.

Phrasal verb: colloquialism, indicating informal use of language where a preposition is attached to a preceding verb, e.g., "He caught up." "He was caught out."

Platitude: a commonplace remark, scorned especially when solemnly pronounced.

Portmanteau: combining two words into one, e.g., brunch, heliport.

Proseopesis: omission of subject in a sentence, e.g., "(I) Don't Know."

Puns: ambiguities of meaning, e.g., "Whenever you shop at Four Square you'll like the Change." (changing to Four Square for your grocery shopping will be enjoyable and the cheaper prices there will mean you will get more change when you pay for your shopping) or "Cobb & Co delivers the male." (Cobb & Co were originally a stage-coach mail company that delivered the mail throughout New Zealand. Now it is a restuarant chain where you (a female) can meet a man (male)).

Quotations: The use of attributed quotations to give truth to the speaker's case (endorsement). Advertisers sometimes use unattributed quotations to imply an outside endorsement.

Register: the level of one's language, either spoken or written, e.g., elevated, formal, semiformal, informal, colloquial, slang.

Repetition: A repeated statement or phrase within the body of the advertisement.

Rhetorical question: a question that does not ask a question, a statement that is worded like a question often for effect.

Simile: a comparison of one object with another using like or as.

Simple sentence: a sentence with one clause.

Slogan: the reduction of an argument to a catch phrase, often repeated within a statement.

Space-fillers: spoken pauses, usually to indicate a speaker is not finished or to give time to think e.g., "um, er, ah."

Statistics: The use of figures and percentages to give weight to an argument.

Syntax: the structure of the grammatical sentences in a language. The pattern or structure of the word order in a sentence and phrase.

Takeover: when a speaker interrupts another, usually showing superiority.

Tone: an attitude communicated by language, e.g., vague, emphatic, precise, racy, ironic, ornate, simple...

Verbosity: an excess of words, wordiness, often with little sense.

Vernacular: the native dialect, language of a region or country.