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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912

Abstract

VAN NIEKERK, A  and  LUBBE, E. Rhetorical figures as intellectual play in advertising communication. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2014, vol.54, n.3, pp. 446-462. ISSN 2224-7912.

Advertising communication has a unique character and different techniques are used to draw the consumer 's attention. The way in which the message is communicated in the advertisement often contributes to the impact of the advertising message. This research article forms part of a bigger research project that focuses specifically on the ways in which advertising language communicates creatively. Furthermore, the way in which visual signs echo the linguistic signs and contribute to the construction of the marketing message is observed. Figurative language and semiotic signs are some of the mechanisms copywriters use to draw the consumer 's attention. Literature that focuses on the linguistic and visual analysis of advertising communication is limited. A variety of definitions for figurative language exist in the literature, since different authors have different perspectives given a particular data set and time frame. ln this study creative signs used in advertising in order to increase the impact of the advertisement (e.g. language play, rhetorical figures and semiotic signs), are studied from a Cognitive Semantic and linguistic perspective. A qualitative investigation was launched in order to describe the character of the manifestation of these rhetorical figures in advertising communication. Based on the primary objective of the study, to give an overview of the manifestation of creative concepts in South African print advertising communication, the secondary objectives were identified. These objectives were to explain the definition and nature of terms such as language play (idiomatic expressions, personification and wordplay), rhetorical figures of speech (comparisons, analogies and metaphor) and semiotic signs (indexes, icons and symbols). South African print advertisements were used as data set. A further objective was to obtain an overview of the gains and risks in the use of these attention drawing mechanisms in the interest of training linguists and copywriting students. In this study two main categories are identified, namely figurative language and semiotic signs. Figurative language is divided into two categories, namely language play and rhetorical figures; the latter is the focus of this research article. The category, language play, focuses specifically on the artistic nature or rather "creative decoration " of advertisements. Idiomatic expressions (when the cat's away, the mice will play), personification (Your pepper will be so jealous) and wordplay (the Afrikaans word "leer" can refer to the ladder you climb, as well as the leather a shoe is made of) are identified as three forms in language play. Rhetorical figures are identified as a second category within figurative language. Rhetorical figures of speech include: similes (he is as slow as a tortoise), analogies (an analogy between the organ, a kidney, and a coffee filter) and metaphors (metaphor between coffee and perfume's durability and aroma). The second main category distinguished in this study is semiotic signs. Semiotic signs are divided into indexes (smoke indicating a fire), icons (apasspor tfull of stamps, indicating a rea lpassport) and symbols (an apple as a symbol of seduction). Based on the literature study and the data set, it is clear that creative signs used in advertising communication contribute in prolonging the reader 's attention. Creative signs are often an intellectual game to be unravelled by the reader, in order to identify the intended marketing message. Furthermore, more than one message is often communicated through the use of creative language and visual signs, thus giving the copywriter the ability to say more with less (words and images). From this study, it is clear that the use of figurative language like rhetorical figures and semiotic signs should ideally focus on the brand name, marketing message or characteristic of the product to actually be relevant to the marketing message; otherwise it remains just a useless decoration in the advertisement.

Keywords : Advertising communication; semantics; figurative language; idiomatic expressions; personification; rhetorical figures; simile; analogy; metaphor; semiotic signs.

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