English in advertising: a linguistic study of advertising in Great Britain

English in advertising: a linguistic study of advertising in Great Britain

316 REVIEWS - COMPTES-RENDUS buzzard, sloth and land turtle and of more specific Hixkaryana figures like Mawarye and Woxka. The other groups of text...

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buzzard, sloth and land turtle and of more specific Hixkaryana figures like Mawarye and Woxka. The other groups of texts are entitled tales of the ancients, life-cycle and Shaman. These texts make a welcome addition to ot~r knowledge of the Hixkaryana people. Similar collections from the many other scattered Indian groups in Brazil would be very useful for comparative purposes. The author and Museum are to be congratulated on making this material available. In reading the texts the only regret this reviewer had was that the author had not compiled any notes which would have cast further light on the subject matter of the texts. Some sort of introduction or commentary integrating this material with other aspects of Hixkaryana liife and beliefs would have been welcome.

Sum~ner Institute o/Linguistics


GEOFFREY N. LEECH, English in advertising: a lin~.:istic study o/ advertising in Great Britain. English Language Series, General Editor, Randolph Quirk. Longmans, Green and Co., London 1966. pp. xiv, 210. 25/---. Thi~ volume is one of the first group published in a most welcome series addressed not only to professional students of language but also to that substantial public untrained, but willing to profit from the findings of linguistic analysis if these findings are presented in ~, fo,-m which does not make unreasonable demands. It is a pleasure to g"eet the series, and to say that its first-fluits admirablty incorpo;ate its aims. t[n his Foreword the General Editor characteristically gets to the heart of t|:e raatter in a single sentence. 'The English of advertising;', he writes, 'has aroused - though hardly engaged - the interest of linguists for many years' (vii). The book itself claims to be not primarily intended for linguists (Preface, ix); this perhaps explains why there i-~ nc general 'map' of the linguistic points made. If a g,~iTeral critJ,~ism of the book is to be made, it is that it tends to present linguistic findings in a manner at once throwaway and repetitive. I have direct evidence that this can result in a serious under-estimation of its originality by readers without linguistic training This is a pity, for the book has much to say; and in a






series devoted to the English Language it indicates a caution which to m y mind is excessive. Ti~e Introductio;t, consisting of two chapters, sets out the analytic goal and descriptive methods of the work, outlining the linguistic theory in terms of which Advertising Language has been studied; Chapter 2 is in fact a very slightly modified version of Hallidayan theory, extremely brief and clear, and constituting m,~ch the best introductory account I have seen :in print. Part I follows, in eight chapters under the general titl ~ Advertising English and other Englishes. Chapters 5 and 7-10 are the most linguistically oriented, and anticipate incidentally a good deal that is to be presented systematically iv Part II. Direct and Indirect Address advertising are distinguished, the linguistic tendencies we habitually associate with advertising being characteristically found in Direct Address. The concept of disjunctive grammar, one of the most fundamental new ideas in the book (already presented to a linguistic public in an article of 1963) is introduced rather casually at p. 56, and receives full explanation in Chapter 9, where its essential characteristic is shown to be the functioning of minor and non-finite clauses as independents. The concept ot register, an essential, but still not wholly clear element in the classificati~, 9f l!nguistic varieties, is presented fully, and in a form improved i~ comparison with earlier expositions; in particular, I found extremely illuminating the comparison of a pattern of registers to a pattern of dialects in terms of delimitation by multiple isogloss boundarie,; rather than cellular units. Chapter 8 sets up four polarities for the classification of varieties of style, and begins to introduce a measure for linguistic complexity. Part II is the linguistic he;xt of the book. It is concerned with Standard Advertising English, and analyses the features we (usually subliminally) recognise as characterising the register. A preliminary chapter (l l) includes an excellent specimen analysis -- the nearest thing to the 'map ' I would like to have found (but in this, and at p. 140, the references to top-o/-the-stove [cookery] suggest that Mr. Leech simply does not understand the expression). The chapter on Clauses clearly analyses the peculiar advertising use of the mood system, with its strong preference for positive against negative, its highly abnormal rate of imperatives and its somewhat abnormal rate of interrogatives. Here disjunctive gramma" is shown in





operation. And here, as elsewhere in the book (e.g. at pp. 120, 149) the idea of neutralisation of contrasts seem relevant; it is often implicit, but never mentioned. Perhaps the author dislikes it; perhaps he rejects it as over-technical. Yet i t is the sort of technicality that is really a simplification, since it brings apparently divergent phenomena under a common head. Other characteristic aspects of clause-structure are the fondness for i/- and when(=: whenever) clauses, especially with subject you; the tendency for dependent clauses, especially //-clauses, to precede independent ones; the functioning of interrogative clauses as alternatives to i/clauses for the singling out of the appropriate audience; and the frequency of So, That's why clauses, especially preceded by sentencepunctuation (as my capitals indicate). The treatment of Verbal Groups develops a further measure for the evaluation of complexity and plainly demonstrates that in all respects, formal, ~ , ~ m ~ + ~ l o,,n ~,~mo,~;,. + ~ , , ~ o ~ ~ , , n m advertising is near to the minimally simple pole; in this it contrasts markedly with the exceptionally complex forms taken by the Nominal Group (an£ysed in Chapter 14). I am inclined to think that the simpliftcation of the verbal group goes even further than Mr. Leech claims, and that this is a point at which the n ~tion of neutralisation is helpful. Can we really say that there is an imperative in contrast with a modal positive in: 'Save up 23/3 with half-price processing from Film Exchange' (quoted and discussed at pp. 120-121)? Even the normal semantic polarities are ~:emoved in this use; the 3.njunction seems to be 'Spend in this way rather than another, and you will save, but do spend'; an approach on these lines seem,~ anti-iormal unless we have established a general relevance for neutralisation, but surely we must distinguish this save from the normal imperatp~ve of 'Save with the X Bank'? The. outsanding feature of Words (Chapter 15) is the frequency and range of types of adjectives compounding; 'there seems, in fact, to be very little restriction on the kind of embedded structure that can occur in this pre-modifying position' (p. 139). In this respect the language ot advertising is like the language of journalism (quality as well as popular), and we do need an investigation of just what the possibilities are. Cohesion (Chapter 16) is found to be low in gramma.r and high in lexis. The remaining Chapters clothe in the precision and dencency




of numerical figures familiar impressions about the Vocabulary and Semantics of advertisiT:g language. They include, at p. 150, another important theoretical insight arising out of the investigation: observation of the need for semantic analysis to take account of positionally imputed as well as formally indicated relationships. Part III, on Change and Creativity, is absorbing, but not primarily as linguistics. A historical sketch identifies the evolution of a publiccolloquial style as an important contribution of advertising to the range of varieties of English. Tile linguistic feature of highest persistence in the history of advertising is the//-clause. An element of originality, even deviance, in orthography, lexis, grammar, semantics and ~..ontextual relationships, is a commonplace or standard feature of English in advertising, and the dominance of schemes of patterning makes it as apt for rhetorical as for linguistic analysis. In sum, the book is a workmanlike advance into an area long in need of the close engagement of linguistic attention referred to by Professor Qmrk.

Newcastle upon Tyne


HARRY HOUER and others, Studi,.s in the Athapaskan Languages. University of California Publications ill Linguistics, Vol. 29. University of Califc~rn:~a Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1963. VII, 154 pp. The nine papers in this publication we~c prepared in ~n intense workshop by field workers in the Atimpaskan languages held in August, 1958, at the Summer Institute of Linguistics, Norma:l, Okla. All but the two initial articles are on some aspect of a langua~,~:e in the group. In the first article the editor presents materials which add to that contributed by Sap'~r earlier on the comparative aspects of these languages. The comparisons are extended to thirty-eight languages including the four Sapir used, twenty of which are spoken in Alaska and no1thwestern Canada. Holier divides the rest into Pacific and Apa~hean groups, each forming a single substock. Northern Athapaskan, however, consists of seven substocks plus at least five languages for which there is too little data to pe ~.it their classification. A two page bibliography is appended by Hoijer.