A SURVEY OF THE LANGUAGE OF NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT. A CASE STUDY OF THE VANGUARD NEWSPAPER
Newspapers are veritable tools for promoting literacy through reading, writing and dialogues (among readers and critics), which are the hallmarks of effective and efficient use of language. Newspapers have a built-in capacity to motivate readers. As a result, it is the common practice in most parts of the country to have people congregate around newspapers stands and vendors every morning reading and discussing the contents of the newspapers, especially adverts. As such, the use of advert language cannot be over-emphasized as the number of readers who come across it cannot be measured. However, this research seeks to have a survey of the language of newspaper advertisement, and to know how to construct adverts to attract readers or viewers, to be able to distinguish the terminology to use in different advert, to be able to determine the right choice of language use in newspapers advertisement, and understand the need for short and long adverts. This study concludes that the language of advertising in Nigerian newspapers especially, the vanguard newspaper which happened to be the case study, has more to do with the aesthetics of language than with commerce. Alliterations, rhetorical questions, pun, morphological adjustment and clichés among others are the advertiser’s favourite devices, and these are very instrumental to the general success of advertising in Vanguard Newspaper.
Background to the Study
Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade on audience (viewer, reader or listeners) to continue to take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to influence consumers’ behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although, political and ideological advertising is also common. The purpose of advertising may also be to reassure employees or shareholders that a company is viable or successful. Advertising messages are usually paid for by sponsors and viewed via various traditional media: including mass media such as: newspaper, magazines, television commercials, radio advertisement, outdoor advertising or direct mail, or new media such as websites and text-messages.
Advertising has been defined as “a powerful communication force and a vital marketing tool helping to sell goods and services, images and ideas”…. (Wright, 2003:8). 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 actions in accordance with the intent of an identifiable sponsor” (Doughuge, 1985:8).
Advertising has a long history, with some options tracing its origin to the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Bible (Okigbo, 1985:10 and Weffer, 1985:6). Wright (2000:4) however, opines that advertising started in ancient Babylon at about 3000BC when inscription for an ointment dealer, a scribe and a shoe maker were made on clay tablets. Sandage and Fryburger (1963) argue that Egyptians first wrote runaway-slave announcements on papyrus at about 3200BC. 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 form of an announcement for the Anglican Church.
It is noteworthy that the earliest forms of newspaper advertising were crude and unsophisticated. But they not only help the local merchants to sell of 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 copywriters 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.
Statement of the Purpose
The structure of language in advertising has a peculiar form. Many factors predispose the copywriter (i.e. one who writes advertisements) to choose his vocabulary this in some sense implies that copywriter does not have a free flow of lexical items.
It is worthy to note that some important points about newspapers is that they are businesses, and businesses need to make a profit. They can only do that if they have readers. So newspapers have to provide us with the most up-to-date information: news, features and also movie listings, the weather, sports scores, and so on. The greater the circulation, the more advertising a paper can sell which means more profits, but less space stones. Newspapers need to balance these needs
It is however clear that the copywriter is restrained to the use of language in advertisement, and the owner of the advert has a primary motive of making profit out of the adverts. It is obvious that in good adverts language matters in this context; therefore, purpose of this study is to critically analyze the most suitable language for newspaper advertisement.
The following will help guide the research study in achieving its objectives:
- What makes you stop and look at the adverts?
- What kind of adverts do you place on newspapers?
- What kind of caption should be given to adverts?
- What kind of message should be driven out through advertisement?
- Should adverts be short or lengthy?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the following:
- To know how to construct adverts to attract readers or viewers.
- To be able to distinguish the terminology to use in different adverts.
- To be able to determine the right choice of language used in newspaper advertisement.
- Understand the need for long or short newspaper adverts.
Significance of the Study
This study will be able to unveil some of those hidden facts about the use and choice of languages used in newspaper advertisements, and also bring about a more refined advert outputs.
This research study will highly relevant to the readers, and especially to the world of journalism in the way and manner in which adverts are to be constructed and be placed on newspapers for public consumption.
The study will also help to ensure that the choices of languages of newspaper adverts are properly selected so that those who pay for the adverts will be satisfied with the publications, and that the readers’ attention will be captured at the sight of such adverts.
Scope of the Study
This study is basically limited in space to the Vanguard Newspaper of Nigeria, and also to the world of publication and journalism.
Definition of Terms
- Advertisement: A public notice or announcement
- Newspaper: A printed publication containing news, advertisement and correspondence
- Announcement: To make publicly known