Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 09:18:50 -0600 From: Élisabeth Le Subject: The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd ed.
Goddard, Angela (2002) The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd ed., Routledge, Intertext Series.
Elisabeth Le, University of Alberta
"The Language of Advertising - Written Texts" is part of the Intertext series that is composed of a foundation text, "Working with texts: A core introduction to language analysis", and several satellite texts. Their goal is to develop the understanding of how texts work "by showing some of the designs and patterns in the language from which they are made, by placing texts within the contexts in which they occur, and by exploring relationships between them" (p. iv). Each satellite text is designed to be used in conjunction with the foundation text or independently. This review looks at "The Language of Advertising - Written Texts" as an independent text only.
The book contains nine units, and ends with commentaries on various activities proposed in each unit, a combined glossary and index, a list of further readings, and references. Each unit follows a task-based approach. It starts with the explanation of its aims, and how these aims connect with those of the previous units. Typically, readers are led to discover relevant concepts through the use of examples and a number of activities based on the analysis of various ads. Activities are connected with each other with short and clear explanations. At the end of the unit, different practical ideas are proposed to explore further aspects of the unit topic. The commentaries offered at the end of the book for some of the activities provide additional theory-based but concrete explanations on the manner advertising works. The topics covered by the book are: 1) "What is an advertisement?"; 2) "Attention-seeking devices" (image, fonts, layout); 3) "Writers, readers and texts" (writer and narrator, narratee, point of view); 4) "How does that sound?" (use of aspects of spoken speech in written text); 5) "Nautical but nice: intertextuality"; 6) "Cultural variations" (in terms of different cultures and different eras in the same culture) 7) "Tricks of the trade" (use of comparative reference, connotation of words, problem-solution format, use of hook-lines, playing off written language against its spoken equivalent); 8) "Picture me this" (use of images to construct the ad's meaning, nature of symbolic representation); 9) "Language on the move" (strategies to create a dynamic impression: placement, non-linearity, interactivity).
In short, the definition of advertising is followed by the consideration of people involved in the advertised message, and by the study of the ad's textual content, its relations with the context, and its use of communication strategies (linguistic, iconic, discursive). Thus, the book emphasises the dynamic process in advertising: ads are messages that are constructed and imply an active participation to be decoded.
The book content reveals clearly that it is not comprehensive in its exploration of advertising, neither is it deep in what it does, nor is it usable as such throughout the English-speaking world. Indeed, while the iconic side of ads is rightly taken into consideration, music is not. If images are considered part of the "language of advertising", why should not the music accompanying TV ads be so too? One could consider that this exclusion was announced by the book subtitle, "Written texts". The non-consideration of music seems to serve as a justification not to analyse TV ads, although they reach a very wide audience and present a particularly interesting combination of all different types of communication strategies (oral and written text, icons, music, "movement"). This is all the less understandable that internet ads, seen by fewer people than TV ads, are mentioned. The very simple manner in which internet in general is presented will be appreciated in areas where access to computers is limited, but in others might appear as rather childish. The book does not go into particularly precise explanations of relevant aspects of theory, but merely introduces various concepts. Finally, the ads analysed and referred to are all British and will not appeal to students in different parts of the English-speaking world.
However, a book is written with a specific audience in mind and it cannot do everything. What this book does is to provide a very accessible and practical introduction to the ways some types of advertising language works in its context to (preferably British) students towards the end of their secondary education or very beginning of higher education. Explanations are short and simple. Every single word that might appear technical is clearly defined in the units and in the index of terms (combined glossary and index). The pedagogical approach (from concrete activities to some theory and again to concrete activities) is very conducive to learning and awakening of critical thinking.
As such, this book is not comparable with Guy Cook's "Discourse of Advertising" (2nd ed., 2001) that is clearly written with more advanced students in mind and is also published by Routledge. (See http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-54.html for a review of this book.) However, "The Language of Advertising" contains numerous pedagogical ideas that would gain to be included in any course on advertising.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Elisabeth Le is Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta (Canada). Her main research interests are in Discourse Analysis. Her present research project deals with the representation of intercultural relations, national identity and ideology in French, American, and Russian newspapers.