Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 3 March 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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The Linguistics of Newspaper Advertising in Nigeria

Emma Ezejideaku, Ph.D.
Esther Nkiruka Ugwu, Ph.D.


Advertising has been defined as "a powerful communication force and a vital marketing tool helping to sell goods and services, image and ideas…" (Wright 1983:8). Similarly, Roderick (1980:4) defines advertising as "a message specified by its originator, carried by a communication system and intended to influence and/or inform an unknown audience". Advertising may also be seen as "a group of activities aiming at and including dissemination of information in any paid product or service to compel action in accordance with the intent of an identifiable sponsor." (Doghudje 1985:8)

Advertising has a long history, with some opinions tracing its origin to the story of Adam, Eve and the Serpent in the Bible (see, for instance Okigbo 1985:10 and Klepper 1985:6). Wright (1983:4) however opines that advertising started in ancient Babylon at about 3000 BC when inscriptions for an ointment dealer, a scribe and a shoe maker were made on clay tablets. Sandage and Fryburger (1963: IV) argue that Egyptians first wrote runaway - slave announcements on papyrus at about 3200 BC.

Situation in Africa

In Africa, town-crying and hawking were the earliest forms of advertising. These have survived in many Nigerian villages till date. With respect to media advertising, which is the focus of this paper, Sandage and Fryburger (cited in Okeke 2006:24) suggest that the first media advertising was done in London in 1477 when a prayer book was announced for sale while the first newspaper advertising appeared in the Boston Newsletter in 1704.

The print media came into Nigeria in 1859 with the appearance of a Yoruba language newspaper, iwe Iroyin published by Reverend Henry Townsend at Abeokuta. The publication carried an advert in the form of an announcement for the Anglican Church.

Earliest Forms of Newspaper Advertising

It is noteworthy that the earliest forms of newspaper advertising were crude and unsophisticated. But they not only helped the local merchant to sell off his goods or services but also set a pace for the modern methods of advertising which have over a long period of time undergone tremendous changes such that today, a lot can be written on the language of advertising in Nigeria. This is possible because advertising has become more professional, involving copy-writers who exploit all the available linguistic devices to make their adverts not only persuasive but also aesthetically appealing. This paper, therefore, attempts a linguistic analysis of the language of newspaper advertising in Nigeria, highlighting the phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic features that make them attractive and persuasive.

Language in Advertising

Leech (1966:25) posits that "most advertising language comes under the broader heading of "loaded language" that is aimed to change the will, opinions or attitude of its audience…" Cook (in Okeke 2006:13) sees advertising as a part of discourse. In his book The Discourse of Advertising, Cook argues that discourse has to do with text, content, interaction and persuasion and advertising performs all these functions.

Leech (1966:74) agrees with this opinion when he asserts that any aspect of language use is an aspect of discourse. He describes the style of discourse in the language of advertising as being either "colloquial-formal; casual - ceremonial; personal-impersonal; or simple - complex, depending on the particular audience and the audience sought to reach".

Leech refers to the general style used in advertising as public colloquial. According to him, public colloquialism has a public origin in the sense that it originated through the merging of the discourse styles mentioned above. He opines that public colloquialism can be attributed to the enormous size of the audience in general. Leech explains that formal language is difficult both because "… it is the style acquired after colloquial grammar largely through formal education and because it is the vehicle of precise and rational expression". For these reasons, a colloquial style of language would naturally be favoured by advertisers whose aim is to make contact with the general public regardless of their levels of education.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

The Linguistics of Newspaper Advertising in Nigeria | Women in Advertisements | Case-Assignment Under Government in Modern Literary Arabic | Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Very Young Learners: A Case from Turkey | Association of Self Fashioning and Circumstances in Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin | A Moral Lesson, Amoral Lesion - Sharon Pollock's The Komagata Maru Incident | Pariksha: Test by Prem Chand | Treatment of City in Nayantara Sahgal's Storm in Chandigarh | Phrasal Stress in Telugu | Stress Among ELT Teachers: A Study of Performance Evaluation from a Private Secondary School in Haryana | Willa Cather’s Portrayal of the Pioneer Virtues in Alexandra Bergson with Reference to O Pioneers! | Man-Woman Relationship in Nayantara Sahgal's Mistaken Identity | Classroom Management and Quality Control - An Action Research | Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha - A Dualist Spiritual Journey | Impact of Dramatics on Composition Skills of Secondary School English Language Learners in Pakistan | Narrative Technique, Language and Style in R. K. Narayan's Works | Diasporic Crisis of Dual Identity in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake | To Teach or Not to Teach Grammar isn't the Question Any Longer - A Case for Consciousness-Raising Tasks | Cognitive Flexibility in Children with Learning Disability | Coda Deletion in Yemeni Tihami Dialect (YTD)- Autosegmental Analysis | The Enigmatic Maya in Anita Desai's
Cry, The Peacock
| Developing an English Curriculum for a Premedical Program | The Ties of Kinship in Rohinton Mistry's Novels | Indian English: A Linguistic Reality | The Unpredictability of the Sonority of English Words | Women's Representation in Polity: A Need to Enhance Their Participation | Nandhini Oza's Concern for the Tribal Welfare in "The Dam Shall Not Be Built" | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF MARCH 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of March 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Emma Ezejideaku, Ph.D.
Department of Linguistics
Faculty of Arts
University of Benin
Benin City, Nigeria

Esther Nkiruka Ugwu, Ph.D.
Department of English and Literature
Faculty of Arts
University of Benin
Benin City, Nigeria

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