Presentation on theme: "Session Eleven Pun in Advertising. According to Webster’s Third New Interna- tional Dictionary (1986:1642), the pun is “a humorous use of a word in such."— Presentation transcript:
Session Eleven Pun in Advertising
According to Webster’s Third New Interna- tional Dictionary (1986:1642), the pun is “a humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest different meanings or applications of words having the same sound or nearly the same sound but different meanings: a play on words.” It is a play on words, or rather a play on the form and meaning of words. Nida (19 93:87 ) describes it as follows, “Playing on The meaning and formal resemblance of words (punning) is a universal phenomenon, and in some languages this rhetorical device is extensively encouraged and practiced.”
I have found an interesting phenomenon: the definitions or descriptions of pun always have a noun phrase—a play on words. Why is it a play on words? Because puns rest on a superficial or accidental similarity: two words sound the same, or one word that happens to have two separate meanings. In other words, it takes advantage of homophones and homo- nyms to suggest double meanings of words at the same time, making a linguistic twist in advertising language. So it is often said to be a play on word.
Appropriate application of pun can attract readers’ attention, make the body copy read- able and memorable and arouse consumers’ interest and imagination. e.g. (110) Make you every hello and real good buy. (A Telephone Ad) (111) From sharp minds. Come Sharp products. (112) Every Kid Should Have An Apple After School. ( Apple IIC ) (113) All you need is some good company, good coffee, and vivid imagination. Let’s take care of the coffee. Only Taster’s choice is good enough.
(114) Which lager can claim to be truly Ger- man? This can. ( A big can of lager beside this ad) (115) The unique spirit of Canada: We bottled it. Right to the finish, its Canadian spirit stands out from the ordinary. What keeps the favor coming? Super lightness. Super taste. If that’s where you’d like to head, set your course Lord Calvert Canadian. From the above examples, we can see, according to its different occurrence, pun varies in different situations. At first, in terms
of homophone, which means that a word is pronounced like another word but with a dif- ferent meaning or spelling. Example (1) is very typical of this kind of pun. The copy wri- ter makes good use of homophones good-bye and good buy to satisfy customers’ psycholo- gy, to attract them and to promote the sale of the product. A play on words in this ad is used to draw the attention of the readers to the product because they might be amused by such a pun. Secondly, in terms of homonym, which
means one word can be taken in two senses. For instance, in Example (5), can in the se- cond sentence is used as a pun: it can be re- garded either as a modal verb or as a contai- ner (can=tin ) containing drink or beer. So can in this advertisement has double meanings, which is humorous, witty and impressive; in Example (6), spirit is used as a pun with a double meaning: one is the strong distilled al- coholic drink, the other refers to the charac- teristic quality or mood of something. In addi- tion, bottle here has a double meaning, too—
one means putting the wine into bottles, and the other means keeping the unique spirit of Canada in by sealing. This example is an imp- licit pun. Thirdly, there is another type of pun, which means that a word has two different senses: one in its common use, the other representing the brand name or the name of company. For instance, in Example (2), Sharp is used as a pun. In the first sentence, it is used as an adjective in its actual literal meaning, in the second sentence, it has double meanings: one is an adjective in its habitual sense, the other means the brand name of the typewriter,
and also the company that produces the pro- ducts. In Example (3), Apple refers to either the fruit we eat, or the computer with this brand name: Apple. American children usually eat some fruits or candies as their desserts. The advert means that children should not only eat apples, but also have an Apple computer, which is the spiritual food for them. The noun Taster in Example (4) is used as a pun: it means either the brand name of the coffee or the per- son whose job is to judge the quality of coffee, wine, tea, etc. by tasting it. The ambiguity of the pun adds good quality to the coffee with this brand name. It seems that the coffee has been confirmed by a person of authority.
Pun which is often emp1oyed by the manu- facturers to seek first-hand attention, is almost a most attention-getting device of the rhetori- cal figures. The nature of pun in advertising is: the pun is the product of a contest deliberately constructed to enforce an ambiguity, to render the choice between meanings impossible, to leave the reader or hearer thinking about pro- ducts in semantic space. As far as I know, the pun is one of the most favored rhetorical devices employed by copy writers and one of the most common rhetori- cal devices used in English advertisements.
五、 Antithesis （对照）
The definition in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary Of Current English With Chinese Translation (1991:55), “contrast of ideas marked by the choice and arrangement of words” might sound abstract. We can quickly catch the mea- ning of antithesis by the following definition, “It is the deliberate arrangement of contrasting words or ideas in balanced structural forms to achieve emphasis. In other words, antithesis means that words of opposite meanings are used in coordinate or balanced positions or structures. The function of antithesis is to bring
out a sharp contrast between the two things or two persons, etc. in some aspects, so as to emphasize a certain point and create a deep impression on readers’ minds. Antithesis is also frequently employed in English ads, e.g. (116) Going East. Staying Westin. Breathtaking by day, electrifying by night. The view from the Westin Standford, Singapore, the world’s tallest hotel. (117) With all taste, without all the fat and cholesterol （胆固醇）. (118) Once tasted, always loved. (119) Exclusivity. Sought-after by many, acquired by only the few.
In Example (7), the first sentence is the headline of the ad of The Westin Standford, Singapore. Westin reminds people of East’s opposite: West; day and night in the body copy are opposite in meaning. The meaning expressed by the antithesis is very attractive to the prospective consumers. In Example (8), with and without form a contrast: with all taste but without all the fat and cholesterol. The attraction created by the antithesis is real- ly irresistible to the people who love to eat but try to get fit and slim. In Example (9),
once and always contrast strongly, which shows the power of the product. Once the product is tasted, it is always loved by you. In Example (10), many and the few are antonyms, the meaning expressed by the antithesis is very attractive to the potential buyers: although the product is sought-after by many, yet it is acquired by only the few, which will stimulate readers’ interest and urge them to get it. The use of antithesis in this example greatly contri- butes to bringing out the unique effect --- exclusivity.
六、 Alliteration （押头韵） According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English with Chinese ranslation (1989 ： 38), ‘ The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of two or more words in succession is called al- literation.’ Now let’s see another definition of alliteration, which is more definite in my opini- on, “It has to do with the sound rather than the sense of words for effect. It is a device that repeats the same sound at frequent intervals and since the sound repeated is usually the
initial consonant sound, it is also called ‘front rhyme’. For instance, the fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, the furrow followed free.” Alliteration is a common technique used in poetry, but advertisements often transplant it to achieve beauty and rhythm in the language of advertising. In order to produce a special effect, the copy writer sometimes makes much effort to build up a pattern of similarity in adver- tising texts. That is why alliteration is often used. e.g.
(11) PULLING WEEDS CAN BE REPETIVE AND REDUNDANT NOT TO MENTION REPETIVE AND REDUNDANT Or you can kill the roots with Roundup And those weeds won’t be back. NO ROOT. NO WEED. NO PROBLEM.
(12) UNCROWDED. UNSPOILED. UNDER $800 One week hotel and airfare TAHITI UTA French Airlines (13) Health, Humor $ Happiness…Gifts we’d love to give.122 (14)Spare, shapely and sensational. One-step dressing at its very best. Example (11) cited above, which is an ad- vertisement of a weed-killer, repeats the /r/ sound. The use of alliteration in this
ad renders it smooth to read and easy to re- member. In Example (12), the letters UN are found in three words, which makes a strong impression on the reader’s mind. Example (13) is an advertisement of a magazine, the letter H is found in three words, which creates a favorable impression on readers, some of whom will be likely to buy this magazine. Example (14) is an ad of clothing. The letter s is used in these three words. The use of al- literation in this ad renders it smooth to read and easy to remember, and evokes a wonder-
ful impression of the clothing on the readers’ minds. With the development of economy, people begin to pay much attention to their life quality. Alliteration is employed with these three words---spare, shapely and sensational. It catches people’s psychology of wanting to be slim, elegant and beautiful. These three words tell us that the advertised clothes not only make people lean and well-formed, but also cause them to feel wonderful and exci- ting. So I think that it is hard for ladies not to be attracted.