Manipulation of society through advertising. Language manipulation mechanisms in advertisements

Diploma Thesis, 2014

43 Pages

Stacie Writes (Author)






1.1 Objectives and Functions of Advertising as Form of Communication
1.2 Language Manipulation Mechanisms in Advertisements
1.2.1 Lexical Features in Advertising Language
1.2.2 Grammatical and Syntactic features in Advertising Language
1.2.3 Stylistic Dimensions in Advertising Language
1.3 Strategies of Translating Advertisements
1.4 Effects of Translated Advertising on Society

2.1 Manipulation at the Lexical and Syntactic Level in Advertising
2.2 Figurative Language as an Instrument of Manipulating Society from a Translation Viewpoint
2.3 Difficulties of Translating Advertisements from English into Romanian

General Conclusions



The diploma paper is a research of the written advertising from the linguistic and translation perspective. The aim of this paper is to point out the language manipulation mechanisms and the strategies of advertising translation. The Paper has the following structure: the annotations in the English and Romanian languages, the introduction, two chapters: a theoretical and a practical one, each one containing a conclusion, the general conclusions, the bibliography made up from 12 consulted books, 4 articles and 8 internet resources, consulted sites and the appendix.

The paper presents the concept of manipulation through advertising, and namely the language manipulation mechanisms in advertisements, which are being presented by lexical features, which include weasel words and emotionally coloured words, by grammatical and syntactic features, which mostly relate to the way text is constructed and the intentional mistakes committed in advertising texts. We will see what the words that are frequently used in advertising are. The third aspect that represents language manipulation mechanisms is stylistic dimensions, which implies such stylistic devices as personification, metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche, puns, imperatives. We will find out to which stylistic devices, advertisers love to resort. Aside from this, we will discuss about translation strategies in advertising, which can be summarized to three main strategies: literal translation, free translation and idiomatic translations. We will also notice that the translation of advertising depends not only on cultural aspects. Many of authors that wrote about translation of advertising have different opinions upon how this topic should be approached. Based on the practical chapter we will try to find out what is more relevant and what wins over: to transmit the message accurately, or to create the effect.

Based on things mentioned above, we will analyse what aspects of advertising attract people, creating the positive effect and what turn them away.

All in all this diploma paper shows what vocabulary is used in advertising, what speech and how language is used in vocabulary. From the point of view of translation of advertising we will see whatever the foreign advertising prefer to translate the slogans word by word, or they prefer to make their own one, keeping only the general idea.


Teza prezentă de licenţă e o cercetare a publicităţii scrise din perspectiva lingvistică şi a traducerii. Scopul acestei lucrări este prezentarea mecanismelor a limbajului de manipulare şi a startegiilor de tarducere. Teza are următoarea structură: adnotarea în limba engleză şi română, introducerea, două capitole-unul teoretic şi unul practic, fiecare conţinând concluzii, concluzii generale, bibliografie din 24 de surse, din care 12 cărţi, 4 articole şi 8 surse internet şi anexă.

Teza reprezintă conceptul de manipulare prin publicitate, care are loc prin proprietăţi lexicale, care includ cuvintele de manipulare şi cuvinte cu încărcare emoţională, prin proprietăţi gramaticale şi sintactice, care se referă la felul în care este contruit cuvântul, propoziţia, precum şi la greşelile gramaticale şi lexicale comise intenţionat în publicitate. Al treilea aspect este reprezentat de mecanismele a limbajului de manipulare este exprimat prin dimensiuni stilistice, în acre sunt incluse figuri de stil precum personificarea, metafora, metonimia, synecdoche, joc de cuvinte, imperativ. Vom afla care din acestea sunt cel mai des utilizate. Pe lângă aceasta vor fi analizate strategiile de traducere a publicităţi care poate fi rezumată la trei strategii: traducerea directă, traducere liberă şi tarducerea idiomatică. Vom observa că traducerea depinde nu doar de aspectele culrurale. Mulţi dintre autori care au cercetat metodele de tarducere a publicităţii au diferite opinii referitor la subiectul dat. Băzându-ne pe partea practică vom încerca să aflăm ce este mai relevant şi mai acceptabil: păstrarea informaţiei la acelaşi nivel cu text original sau cerarea unui text independent, dar care are avea efect.

Luând în vedere cele menţionate, vom observa ce aspecte în general în publicitate atrag oamenii din diferite societăţi şi care din ele sunt percepute negativ.

În concluzie scopul aceste teze este de a prezenta ce vocabular este aplicat şi cum se aplică limbajul în publicitate. Din punctul de vedere al traducerii publicităţii, vom vedea care strategie este mai preferabilă şi mai ades aplicată.


Topicality and importance of the topic

People consider advertisement to be a trick that lures trusting costumers into purchasing things they do not even need. It might be true at some extent; however consumers prefer to believe that every item, every brand they choose is their own decision, based on rationality and calculation. So if consumers claim that they do not need advertising to lead them, why does it still exist?

First of all we should mention that the role of advertising is being trivialized and the superficial opinion that people usually have about advertising is exaggerated. Advertisement (slogans, taglines, semiotics) introduce to you the product before you have even thought of buying it. It is a communication tool that sums up the feature of the advertised product, its function and the positive effect it can have on the consumer’s life.

Purpose and objectives

- our purpose is to find out what are the functions and objectives of advertising
- to see what language mechanisms does the advertising use
- to find out about the strategies of translating advertising and how effective are they
- to observe what effect does the translated advertising has on people

Structure of the thesis:

The Course Paper consists of two chapters. The first chapter is dedicated to the theoretical part and has four subchapters, with the subchapter 1.2 being split in three additional chapters. In chapter 1.1 we will discuss about the functions and objectives of advertising. In this subchapter we will see what is the different between the functions and objectives of advertising. We will learn what brand awareness is, short run and long run sales. The information in this chapter is mostly taken from the book “Advertising and Sales Management” by Mukesh Trehan and Ranju Trehan.

The subchapter 1.2 and the following paragraphs 1.2.1; 1.2.2; 1.2.3 will be dedicated to language mechanisms used in advertising to manipulate the society. In the split paragraphs we will discuss separately about lexical features, grammatical and syntactic features and stylistic dimensions.

In subchapter 1.3 names of Arens and Bovee, Mathieu Guidere, De Pedro and Smith as well as Klein-Braley together with Peter Sells and Sierra Gonzales will explain the strategies of translating the slogans and their real effectiveness.

In chapter 1.4 we will see what effects can the translated advertising have on society, what people find negative about the translated advertising, what influence them positively and what leave them neutral. Also in this chapter, we will notice that advertising like many aspects determines the roles people play in society.

In the subchapter 1.3, such names as Arens and Bovee (who established four basic rules of translation advertisement) will be mentioned as well as the names of Mathieu Guidere, De Pedro, Smith and 12. Veronica Smith and Christine Klein-Braley, The main books that were consulted in “The Language of Advertising” by Peter Sells and Sierra Gonzales. We will be able to observe how all these advertisement-theoreticians struggle in order to give a precise notion or explanation to the advertisement phenomena and how they try to grasp the fundamental rules of advertisement in order to lay out a strategy that could be applied by copyrighters when translating advertisement. These methods are described in the books of the writers mentioned above: “Smith, V. and Klein-Braley, C. Advertising — A five-stage strategy for translation.”, “Arens, William F. /Bovee, Courtland L.- Contemporary advertising” , “Guidère, Matthieu: Publicité et traduction”.

In the fourth chapter, we will analyze such an important factor, the target in the chains of advertising and consuming, the society. The aim of this chapter is to find out how is society manipulated by advertising and what strategies/tactics does it use in order to attract consumers.

The practical chapter will revolve around translation and adaptation of the advertisement. We will observe the English slogans and their Romanian adaptation. We will identify the methods and techniques of slogan translation used in Romanian language. We will see how weasel words are used and how they manipulate people into purchasing the goods. We will identify stylistic devices used in slogans and the one used for their translation. In the last chapter of we will discuss the difficulties of translating advertising from English into Romanian.

The Key words of the thesis:

Advertisement, manipulation, society, translation, adaptation, slogan, speech, stylistic dimensions, stylistic devices, advertising translation techniques, weasel words,

Chapter I General Perspectives on Advertising

1.1 Objectives and Functions of Advertising as Form of Communication

In the context of our modern society, we can define the function of advertising as a tool that helps companies to increase the sale of their products. Advertising stems from the Latin word “ad vertere” which means to “turn the mind toward” and it has the aim to communicate to consumers the information about the product with the purpose to convince them to buy it. As we see, the role advertising plays in selling/buying process is very subtle. If we read carefully the translation given to the word “advertising” we understand that it does not force you or “impose” you to buy, instead it makes you refer to the needed offer, and make it look like you have concluded it by yourself, without the influence of external factors.

The functions of advertising are split in three categories called: Primary Functions; Secondary Functions and Social Functions [8, p.8]. Primary Functions are beneficial mostly for advertisers. It implies the creation of demand, by which the advertisement persuades the consumers about the usefulness of the product and that only this product can fulfill their demands. The second function announces for new product or service. When a new product is introduced on the market for the first time, a lot of advertising needs to be done to make people aware of the product, about the way it functions and how beneficial it can be for the consumer. The next function is to promote new functions of the product. It mainly informs about how the already known product can be also used for other purposes. This is the broadening of the functions of the same product. The fourth function within this category informs about the changes in product, prices and placement. If any of these aspects has changed, that advertising should inform the costumers about these changes. The next step is to help understand the usefulness of the product, how it works and method of using it. The next step of the primary functions is to announce special offers/schemes. For example, when a festival, off-sells discounts, stock clearance sales are launched, dealers and salespersons announce the public through advertising. Another and the most important function is creating brand preference. This function mostly implies a comparative advertising, for example showing the advantages of the item you are offering over the other similar goods that might not possess these aspects. Finally, the last function within the primary ones is to neutralize competitor’s advertising. There are always more brands for a certain product. Therefore, if you do not advertise and your rivals do, you are likely to lose in the market share [8, pp.8-9].

The secondary functions are mostly advantageous for salespersons and dealers. Secondary function helps to boost the morale of the salesmen and the employees. It eases the work of salesmen to sell the product to the costumer that has already got familiar with the product through early advertising. Through TV advertisement, radio and newspaper/magazine it reaches out the consumers that were left by salespersons due to different reasons. Other function is that advertising helps companies increase their prestige and reputation and as a result attract only the best employees. The last, but not the less function from the secondary ones is announcing the location and address of dealers and stockists in newspapers (for example) in order for consumers to be able to find the needed goods. This point mostly motivates the dealers but also is beneficial for consumers. When there is an advertising of a product placed in a newspaper, there is always given the address of the location where the particular good can be purchased and a telephone number to contact the dealer [8 pp.9-10].

The social functions of advertising are mostly for benefiting the society. Its aim is to improve the standard of living by providing new products at reasonable rates and creating demands for new goods. Secondly, it creates awareness among rural masses and those who live in remote areas and inform them about new products. Third function enables the creation of employment, because advertising creates demand, which leads toward the creation on new industrial units, which offer job opportunities. Fourthly, the function is to educate customers by offering information and increasing the knowledge of public in general. Usually it shows how the non-usage of the advertised product affects consumer and his health. Next, the social function of advertising is to solve social problems such as gender injustice, alcoholism, drug-addiction, illiteracy and to warn about dangerous diseases. Government often reverts to advertising when they want to transmit a message to the society or warn them. Lastly, it completes other social functions such as urging people to participate in charitable actions [9, p10].

Aside from the functions, there are objectives the advertising fulfills. Objectives are defined as the ultimate goals that are set to be attained. In advertising setting of the objectives is a fundamental factor and it has at least three reasons for this.

Firstly, it serves as a communication and coordination device [8, p. 81]. This is mostly about the communication between advertiser, advertising agency and ad-creative team. The advertiser informs about his/her objectives to advertising agency. Advertising agency transmits the message to the ad-creative team. Objectives also coordinate the activities of copywriter, media-buyer, advertising-agency, message-source (the model that conveys the message). Everybody involved strives to fulfill the same objectives.

Secondly, objectives in advertising are criterion for decision-making. The objectives of advertising affect decision concerning advertising budget, media-selection, frequency or repetition of the advertisement, time when advertisement is to be given, choosing the right appeal, message-designing, message-source (person that will convey the message), designing of advertisement copy.

The last is the evaluation of advertising effectiveness. In this case, objectives are standards to measure how effective the advertising will be. At the end of the campaign, a comparison made between what was initially set and what was actually performed. If the objectives were achieved, that means the expenses were justified, else it is the case to rethink about the tactic/strategy. Objectives serve as control tool.

From the advertiser’s point of view, advertising has two main objectives: sales objectives and communication objectives. We all know that the ultimate goal of advertising is to attract clients and increase sales. From the perspective of sales objectives, the goals are to increase sales and demand, to enter new local market and to increase profit. It also asses the effectiveness of advertisement campaign by organizing off-season or special festival discounts etc. Another objective might be to increase the sales in a particular term. After that, a comparative report is organized in order to analyze the sales before the advertising campaign and after it [8, p. 81].

The first objective within the sales objectives claims that aside from advertising, factors as price policy, distribution policy, product features, competitive strategies, and consumers’ tastes etc. influence sales. The second objective claims that effect of advertising on sales may occur in the long run. There might be an advertising campaign organized that is able to attract the clients, but the client might not buy the item on the spot. Nevertheless the advertising campaign from present might contribute to the sales after a year or even longer. So it is complicated to determine the effectiveness of advertising in the short-run [8, p. 82].

The goals in communication objective is to create brand awareness, to give the knowledge about the product, to create liking, to develop brand preference, to persuade the target audience in order to change the mind of clients and make them consume [8, p. 82].

According to Hierarchy of Effect Model by Robert J. Lavidge and Gary A. Steiner there are six steps of communication objectives: [17]

First is the brand awareness that shows that the target audience finds out about the existence of the advertised product on the market. The second is knowledge, when people already know about the features of the product and where to buy it. The next step is likening, which means that people have a positive attitude toward the product. From likening, it comes to preference, meaning that people prefer the product of this particular brand to the same product from other brands. After that comes the conviction by buying this product people have made the right decision. The last is the final objective, when the client does buy the product[17].

At first glance the objectives and functions seem pretty obvious and simple. In reality, advertising is a very pragmatic, precise and complicated field of marketing, that requires planification, collaboration between different entities, and the knowledge of how advertising functions and the ability to set up major as well as smaller goals.

1.2 Language Manipulation Mechanisms in Advertisements

The correlation of image and language is what the modern advertising is created of, with language being the fundamental constituent. When we think about the language used in advertisements, first thing that comes to our minds are slogans, taglines and we can also include the scenarios from commercials and endorsement. It is needed to mention that although tagline and slogan might seem the same, they are quite different in terms of advertising. Tagline represents the genral idea of campaign. Slogan might change and be used for each product [22]. For example Joy of Pepsi is the tagline, however “The Choice of a New Generation” is the slogan within the tagline.

First feature that catches up our attention is probably the length of the advertising text. It is never too long. If we were to name several rules that are to be abided in creation of advertising, the first would obviously be concision. Advertising is based on the KISS principle, which says Keep it Short and Sweet or in other words try to give as much information in the shortest amount of words as possible [16]. Nokia Connecting People is a good example of concision.

The second point should be clarity. Under clarity we mean directedness and straightforwardness, clear expression and no ambiguity (if it is not created on purpose) usually clarity is mostly related to public announcement [16].


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Manipulation of society through advertising. Language manipulation mechanisms in advertisements
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This text was written by a non-native English speaker. Please excuse any errors or inconsistencies.
advertising, translation peculiarities, english, romanian, society
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Stacie Writes (Author), 2014, Manipulation of society through advertising. Language manipulation mechanisms in advertisements, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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