Monday, April 28, 2008

Words used in advertising

The main copy of advertising language probably uses words from a restricted sub-set of English---common words, often with some emotional as well as literal value. In advertisements aimed at teenagers, the pronouns "you" and "he/him" (for advertisements aimed at girls) are highly frequent. In other advertising domains, we can find some interesting contrasts in the use of pronouns (see Unit 7). Leech (1966) provides a thorough overview from the point of view of a practicising linguist of how language is used in advertising.

It is probably more useful to look at word usage and statistics in restricted domains of advertising, as we do in Unit 7, rather than to generalize across all cases. However, to give an indication of what we typically find, here is what Leech found out about the frequency of words in a sample of television advertisements (from the 1960s).

The twenty most frequent adjectives:

1. new
2. good/better/best
3. free
4. fresh
5. delicious
6. full
6. sure
8. clean
8. wonderful
10. special
11. crisp
12. fine
13. big
14. great
15. real
16. easy
16. bright
18. extra
18. safe
20. rich

The twenty most frequent verbs:

1. make
2. get
3. give
4. have
5. see
6. buy
7. come
8. go
9. know
10. keep
10. look
12. need
13. love
14. use
15. feel
15. like
17. choose
18. take
19. start
19. taste

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