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1.1      Background of the study

The study of language, which constitutes the underlying platform for this research work, is one concept which has defied all forms of easy definition as is done in all other concepts of life. The use of language is what distinguishes man from the monkey, the baboon, the ape and other higher animals; hence it is purely human. Language is the one significant factor of man’s social existence. It defines and interprets his life in every situation. It gives meaning to his different engagements and involvements. Without language, man will be no different from other sub­human animals. In affirmation, Ohigbodi Babayide (2000:182) explains that the fact that man expresses his feelings and his thoughts in language is the one hard difference between man and those other lower animals. The most reliable form of communication by human beings, therefore, is the use of language. Language, as a concept in academic endeavour, has certain features and functions peculiar to it. These features range from arbitrariness, system-based, culture dependence, dynamism to creativity and productivity. For the purpose of this research, the last characteristic feature of language listed will be briefly discussed. Creativity and productivity constitute another significant characteristic of language. Despite the fact that language is system-based, having laid down rules that govern the use of any language, yet its skilful users possess the potential and license to manipulate and coin language to suit some personal purpose and to create some desired effect or impact on its listener(s) or the reader(s). This creativity that the use of language offers will be properly discussed and analyzed in the core of this research work. Language also has certain functions which it achieves in the course of its usage. The functions of language have been clearly grouped into these four: information, education, persuasion, diagonal interaction. More emphasis will also be placed on the function of persuasion here as it has more connection with this research work. Here, language is used by a speaker in a way as to convince a listener or reader that a particular idea, goal, or line of action is the best among several alternatives; using in most cases, emotionally appealing language capable of swaying people’s thinking. This particular function of language is one that is well known to be employed by advertisers. As a persuasive tool designed to control people’s thinking, loaded language, which entails the use of certain words in passing across a speaker’s opinion with a view to influencing the listener fn the same vein, essentially appeals to emotions rather than intellect. The sole aim of using language is to communicate; and it is these means and methods of communication, specifically in the field of advertising, using language (verbal and non-verbal / linguistic and non-linguistic) that this research work is centered on. Language serves as the vehicle of communication. This research work will also focus on the linguistic features used in communicating through adverts. As a result, it is necessary to outline what is regarded as.’linguistic features. A quote from one of Shakespeare’s works, Winter’s Tale,goes thus: “There -vas speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture”. Language cannot and should not be restricted to the narrow etymological definition as that which is produced by the human vocal organs and received by the hearing apparatus. In the past when literacy or semi-literacy was largely prevalent, the use of signs and symbols were quite rampant especially to drivers on the highways. A round disc with a cross represented one approaching a rail-road  crossing, a diamond-shaped sign told one to slow down, a square sign signified a zone of school children, etc. Other symbols of colour also abounded such as the red, green and yellow lights for stop or danger, safety or go, and slow respectively. The blinking light for caution is also another. All these also represented the non-linguistic systems of communication. Of note also in these non-linguistic systems of communication is the use of the non-verbal clues. Rudolph F. and Kathleen S. Verderber have, in their book, “Communicate!” identified four kinds of Body Motions or Kinesics used to communicate. They include eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and postures. There are also four characteristics under Paralanguage/Vocalic that help to influence and convey meaning in our messages: pitch, volume, rate, quality. Using advertising as the chosen field for the analysis of language, linguistic and non-linguistic, it only highlights its strong connection with language. By no mean standards, “a well-strategized advert” is a function of a proper mix of creative ideas and an appropriate, apt use of language. To be noted here is the fact that the “language” used here goes beyond mere information to persuasion so as to help to achieve the intended result of the advertiser as one of the language functions in communicating. In the same vein, advertising language as will be discussed in this study has its peculiar forms, formations and coinages. A few examples include: Beanz Meanz Heinz, Cook ability, Schweppervescence, Tangoed, and Wonderful. Syntactic parallelisms like: stay dry, stay happy. Associations like: fresh as a mountain stream. Other glamorization’s include charming, characterful, old-world, and unique. A host of others will be outlined in detail later. Generally speaking, advertising language is more of persuasion rather than mere information. As Leo Brunette quoted, advertising far transcends the purpose of information to that of persuasion. A survey of some texts from advertising will reveal that the examples of words, phrases or constructions are truly different from the varieties encountered on a daily basis. This exercise and more will be carried out in the course of this research paper. In doing this, emphasis will be placed on:

•    Certain words and expressions used in adverts such as clean, klin, freshmatic, better, sure, now, hurry, introducing, suddenly, etc.

•    How meaning is achieved (semantics)

•    Role of linguistic features in adverts


The power of language in certain advertisements cannot be over-emphasized. Language in its verbal and non-verbal form, when properly combined usually helps in the achievement of the intended goal on its listeners or readers. Few of the reasons which have been identified in the use of language as limitations or shortcomings of the adverts include the following:

• Inappropriate choice of words

• Lack of creativity in language

• More imperative than interrogative

• Improper orientation on the value of advertising


The objectives of the study;

1.   To highlight the peculiar use of language in adverts

2.    To acknowledge the presence of style even in advertisement

3.    To explore the various stylistic features employed in these adverts that help to actualize meaning

4.   To show how certain features such as signs, miming, drama(micro or macro) that are employed in adverts are significant and symbolic in the actualization of meaning

5.   To ascertain the differences, if any, in adverts that concern a certain age grade.


Hypothesis 1

H0: there are no differences, if any, in adverts that concern a certain age grade

H1: there are differences, if any, in adverts that concern a certain age grade

Hypothesis 11

H0:  there are no features such as signs, miming, drama (micro or macro) that are employed in adverts are significant and symbolic in the actualization of meaning

H1:   there are features such as signs, miming, drama (micro or macro) that are employed in adverts are significant and symbolic in the actualization of meaning


The overwhelming effect of the persuasive language used in advertising on people and their desires and beliefs cannot be over-emphasized. Advertising, in its bid to project a good image before its listeners usually tries too hard to impress, has always proved an effective tool in all areas of human endeavour. The significance of this study, therefore, is to highlight the importance and influence of certain choice of words and expressions in aiding the goal of advertising on people.


The scope of this research shall be to examine semantically and, the lexis used in the selected household adverts aired in television media houses in Nigeria. This research will study language at the semantic level, examine the different kinds of words used in advertising, especially in the broadcast media. This research will also examine the use of the English language as the language of communication and advertising especially in Nigeria with her diverse culture andlanguage differences. The analysis of the advertisement text may not be fully appreciated if one leaves out the stylistics import of other non-linguistic features of the adverts. The para-linguistic features are also another embodiment of meaning.  It employs concepts like dance, mime, facial expressions, body gestures, etc. To achieve this, premium will be placed on the broadcast advertisements of selected consumer goods. They include Milo, Indomie, Amstel Malta, Bournvita, Peak milk, Maltina and many others. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study 

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.


SEMANTIC: Semantics is the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning, in language, programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics. It is concerned with the relationship between signifiers—like words, phrases, signs, and symbols—and what they stand for in reality, their denotation.

LEXIS: Lexis may refer to: Lexis (linguistics), the total bank of words and phrases of a particular language, the artifact of which is known as a lexicon; Lexis (Aristotle), .

HOUSEHOLD: A household consists of one or more people who live in the same dwelling and share meals. It may also consist of a single family or some other grouping of people. A single dwelling is considered to contain multiple households if either meals or living spaces are not shared.

ADVERT: Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. Sponsors of advertising are typically businesses wishing to promote their products or services.

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