The Stylistic Features and Rhetorical Features of English Advertisements

The Stylistic Features and Rhetorical Features of English Advertisements
2007级 英语翻译1班 蒋江海 200712500116

Abstract: Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideals, or services. And as a practical language, advertising English has its specific functions. In order to achieve its aim, its way of choosing words and building sentences are quite different from normal English: English advertisements are usually very short, clear, distinctive and memorable. This paper aims to discuss the features of advertising English from the stylistic and rhetorical perspective.

Key words: Advertising English; stylistic features; rhetorical features;

1 The Stylistic Features of English Advertisements

1.1 Use of Simple, Short and Every Day Sentences
In order to reduce the cost, the advertiser usually use the smallest space and the minimum time, which makes sentences in most advertisements are very short and snappy, especially the headlines, which may or may not be accompanied by a longer informative text. The sentence consists of subject verb and object that are accompanied by an explanatory supplement.The headline is normally expanded or clarified in the text body, where simple,elliptical and compound sentences or their fragments are used. Here are some examples.
a. Things go better with Coca—Cola.(饮可口可乐,万事如意。)
b. Start Ahead.(飘柔,成功之路,从头开始)
c. It’s more satisfied. (它更满意) (MORE cigarette)
d. We’re aiming even higher. (我们的目标更高) (Air France).
e. The choice is yours.The honor is ours.(你的选择是我们的荣耀)
f. Just Do It. (只管去做) (Nike)
Although there are only several words in the above 4 advertisements, these words save lot money, convey more messages, create a very pleasant impression, and raise the audience’s interests effectively. These sentences travel very fast, because anyone can remember it without any effort. It can just hang upon people’s lips, and is something popularized without much publicity.

1.2 Allow Informal Grammar- Fragments and Phrases
We can see in many English advertisements grammar mistakes, most of which are intended. This phenomenon also mainly results from the cost of display advertisements on newspapers, televisions, Internet, etc. Advertisers first try to use short but complete sentences but they may find that the short sentence is still too long so they cut the words again and again. In fact, in the more extreme cases, large parts of sentences are elided, and there may be some “sentences” which do not contain a finite clause. As a kind of special writing form, advertisements can almost do without subjects. In this sense, phrases may be better if not as good as sentences, thanks to their shortness and distinctiveness. As a matter of fact, all kinds of phrases can be put into use: noun phrase, verb phrase, preposition phrase, adjective phrase, etc. They are so concisely to the point that they are beyond our power to do any addition or subtraction. Here are some examples.
a. Executive back chair保健办公椅
b. Live richly. (Citi)
c. Forward-tilt feature可调整背靠斜度
d. Adjustable neck rest可调节靠枕
e. Built-in adjustable lumber support带有自动调节腰垫
f. New! 全新设计
g. You&Us(UBS)
h. Back saver背舒尔
i. Better city, better life 地市让生活更美好
j. Stick to What You Love (Toyota)
k. Connecting People (Nokia)
l. Global network of innovation. (Siemens)

1.3 Frequent Use of Imperative Sentences and Second Person Approach
Because imperative sentences target the receivers as on the spot and can realize the intended persuasion in a fairly direct manner. An advertisement often pretends to be talking to the prospective customers. There is therefore heavy use of you, especially at the beginning of clauses. There are many imperative sentences and interrogative sentences in this type of use.
Take the world famous advertisement “Just Do It” promoted by Nike for example. This catchy and forceful imperative sentence conveys a strong energetic and uplifting feeling to the prospects that are surely expected to have a desire to maintain youth and vigor. In our daily life, we are also quite familiar with such sentence structures as “Let’s…” or “It’s time to…”. Those imperative sentences like “Let’s have breakfast”, “let’s go” and “It’s time to go to bed “take place with great frequency in our daily conversations with families and friends. It is based on this proximate similarity in real life that EDS came up with “Let’s get to work” and UNITED Airline promoted “It’s time to fly”. Here are some more examples.
a. Now You Can Have Your Cake and Diet too.
b. You will buy this special gift to your darling, don’t you?
c. Don’t miss out!
d. Why Gas Gives You Thankful after Thankful of Hot Water 3 Times Faster?
e. Come to where the flavor is! Come to Marlboro Country!
f. Buy one pair, get one free. 买一赠一.
g. Pierre sport quilted jacket, — well, who should know better than a duck how to keep warm?
h. Pierre 牌羽绒运动夹克— 有谁能比鸭子更知道如何保暖呢?
2 The Rhetorical Features of English Advertisements

2.1 Figure of Speech (Simile and Metaphor)
The use of figure of speech can make the description of products more vivid, interesting, concrete and acceptable. It gives people rich imagination and plentiful associations which deepen people’s impressions of the displayed products. The two frequently used figures of speech are the simile and the metaphor.

2.1.1 Simile
A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the words “like”, “as”, or “than”. As a powerful tool in description, explanation and persuasion, simile refers to an explicit and direct comparison “between two unlike elements having at least one quality or characteristic in common” (Feng Cuihua,2004:170). Here are some examples.
a. Because if your business needs to dig a little deeper, think of use as your shovel. (EDS, IT)
b. Time is like Art–intangible, mysterious but ultimately precious. (Blancpain, Watches)
c. A good car is like a great piece of music. Powerful and exciting, yet full of harmony, often leaving you wishing the experience would never end. (Toyota, Automobile)
d. Light as sea-foam, strong as the tide.
e. Light as a breeze, soft as a cloud. (dress)
f. A perfume with a fragrance as beautiful and lingering as only 4000 flowers can be. (perfume)

2.1.2 Metaphor
A metaphor is an analogy between two objects or ideas; the analogy is conveyed by the use of a metaphorical word in place of some other word. Similar to simile, metaphor also makes a comparison that “imaginatively identified one thing with another, and ascribes to the first thing (the tenor) some of the qualities of the second (the vehicle)” (Feng Cuihua,2004:175). A metaphor not only explains by making the abstract or unknown concrete and familiar, but also enlivens by touching the reader’s imagination. Here are some examples.

a. Sweet dreams (Citi, Financial)
b. NEWSWEEK—Tomorrow’s High Tech Office.(NEWSWEEK, magazine)
c. Mild as May.( Marlbor, cigarette)
d. Riding the winds of change is not enough. We broke the laws of change to create vehicles that go beyond your style. (Hyundai, Automobil)
e. Life is a journey. Travel it well. (Air France , airline)
f. If the conference room is your battleground, consider this your strongest weapon. (Wall Street Journal, Publication)

2.2 Deviant Spelling (Coinage and Misspelling)
In the writing of advertising, writers often deliberately misspell some words or add some prefixes or suffixes to achieve a special effect, often for the effect of humor and liveness. The function of doing so is to increase the direct image of the words or phrases, and the effect much stronger. Although the new words still have the original meanings, they are quite different from the original words in spelling,which will make the advertisement more vivid interesting and attractive. For example, in an advertisement of a coffee pot, the name of the product is “Kwik coffee pot”, which has been changed into “Quick coffee pot”. In this way, it reminds the buyers the rapid speed of making coffee by using this kind of coffee pot. Here some more examples.

a. supercalendered;
b. supercolossal;
c. supperexcellent;
d. coffee-pot-fresh;
e. homemaker(=housewife);
f. TWOGETHER (The Ultimate All Inclusive One Price Sunkissed Holiday);
g. Drinka Pinta Milka Day ( Drink a pint of milk a day)

2.3 Use of Homophonic Pun, Rhyme, Alliteration, Homophonic Pun, hyperbole
The use of Homophonic Pun, Rhyme, Alliteration, Homophonic Pun, and hyperbole in advertisements make the advertisement rhythmic just like a poem which is more easily to be chant and remembered by people and to be spreaded widely and quickly. Here are some examples.

a. Forget hot taste. Only Kool, with pure menthol has the taste of extra coolness. Come up to Kool. 忘掉辛辣的感觉。只有“酷”牌,纯正的薄荷口味带给你特别清凉的酷酷感受。想“酷”你就来!( a case of Homophonic Pun 谐音双关)
b. From Sharp minds, come Sharp products. 绝顶智慧造就尖端夏普. (homographic Pun 语义双关 夏普电器广告语)
c. Every time we race, you win. 我们的每场比赛, 你都胜券在握. ( hyperbole 夸张 Yamaha的电子琴广告)
d. When you’re sipping Lipton, you’re sipping something special. 啜饮立顿茶, 品尝独特味. ( brand of “Lipton” tea)
e. Safety, Security and Simplicity. 安全, 安心, 实用. (Mobile) (Alliteration)
f. Pepsi-cola hits the spot, 百事可乐味道好,
Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot, 一瓶一斤真不少,
Twice as much for a nickel, too, 四角硬币买两瓶,
Pepsi-cola is the drink for you. 一喝永远忘不了.
( End-rhyme/consonance 尾韵)

1. HUANG Hai-quan, The Stylistic Features of Advertising English Viewed from Syntactic Perspective, 2009
2. 李中, 广告英语中比喻修辞格的魅力及翻译原则, 2008
3. 王孝堂, Realization of Cognitive Consistency in English Advertising——From the Perspective of Rhetorical Devices’Analysis, 2006
4. 易高燕, Linguistic Characteristics of Advertising English, 2010

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