Dissertation > Language, writing > Linguistics > Writing and Rhetoric > Of Stylistics

A Study on Foregrounding in Advertisements-A Stylistic Approach

Author ZhaoZuoPeng
Tutor YangRuoDong
School Beijing Jiaotong University
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords foregrounding deviation overregularity attractive function advertisement Stylistics effectiveness
CLC H052
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 494
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Advertising is something that we are all exposed to everyday. It is also something that is likely to affect us in a number of different spheres of our lives.Foregrounding, which has aroused heated discussions among stylisticians nowadays, is summarized and expounded in regard to its function in advertisements in this paper. The concept of foregrounding originally belongs to painting, meaning those outstanding parts against their backgrounds. In the 1930’s, Prague School linguists applied it to linguistic studies, emphasizing the importance of deviation which is so special that draws people’s attention. Later on, Leech and Short further develop the theory to include both the deviant features as well as those which are not deviant, but nevertheless striking. Halliday, an authority in systemic and functional linguistics, develops the theory even further. He regards it as "motivated prominence" from the angle of function. It implies that only when the deviation features as well as those which are not deviant, but nevertheless striking, function effectively in the contexts could they be taken as "foregrounding". That is to say, foregrounding is style.Functionalists believe that language function and its context determine the stylistic features. In any practical variety, only when language features are performing their various functions in the situational context are they characterized, activated and foregrounded, becoming the stylistic features of the writing.As far as language is concerned, advertising language is designed to fulfill many functions, among which attractive function is the most important one. It indicates that the language of advertisements should be brief, aesthetic, novel, strange and special.To achieve the attractive function in such a context, advertising language designers deliberately deviate at graphological, lexical, syntactical and semantic levels, which develop from language form to language context, from the language meaning on the surface to the language meaning in depth. Graphological deviation catches reader’s eyes by visual means. With the help of various punctuations deliberately misspelling of some words, readers’ interest is aroused. Lexicon in advertisements is special in that some words are shortened in a readable way to allure the public. Ellipsis is a prominent feature at syntactical level. In search of brevity, advertisement designers purposefully leave out functional words in advertisement contexts. A large variety of rhetorical devices are used in advertisements, for artisticness in them has a special magic to attract people. Metaphor is a vital element among the rhetorical devices, which is usually related to the way a particular word is used.Overregularity at phonological, lexical and syntactical levels also helps advertisements achieve foregrounding function. Alliteration and rhyme are favored, for they bear music features. Short words and vivid verbs are taken wide advantage of, for they put punch and power into advertisements. Positive sentences are direct and quoted sentences are trustworthy, so they are also apt to be adopted in advertisements. All in all, they work to create attraction and to achieve foregrounding.In order to testify that foregrounding is an effective means of realizing the attractive function of advertisement writing, a lot of examples are given and some statistics are given. While choosing examples, the present writer follows four principles: 1) The advertisements chosen cover both home and abroad. 2) The advertisements are chosen at random to ensure that they are representative. 3) Most of the advertisements are selected from the latest media. 4) The advertisement for what goods are acknowledged immediately after the advertisement which makes the thesis trustworthy.The advertising industry, as a part of cultural creative industry, now has become the forefront of socio-economic development of industry. Advertising has a very broad extension and application, but the most important function of it is to attract attention. In this thesis, we have explored various levels of language deviation and overregularity from the stylistic prospects. Through a detailed analysis of a large number of examples, we have proved that foregrounding is an effective means to achieve the advertisement’s attraction function, which is strongly desired to realize in the promotion of commercial products.

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