Статья 'Отражение метаязыковой рефлексии в современной рекламе, или когда метатекст важнее текста' - журнал 'Litera' - NotaBene.ru
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Reference:

Metalanguage reflection in modern advertising, or when metatext is more important than text

Kravchenko Mikhail Aleksandrovich

ORCID: 0000-0002-6776-4131

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor of the Department "Mass Communications and Applied Linguistics" of the Rostov State Institute of Railways

347900, Russia, Rostovskaya oblast', g. Taganrog, ul. Shilo, 200

oksanka_2007@mail.ru

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2023.4.37948

EDN:

WRQXSE

Received:

26-04-2022


Published:

04-05-2023


Abstract: The article considers the advertising language as a specific linguistic phenomenon, the main characteristics of which are creativity, interactivity, expressiveness, culturogenicity, intertextuality and polycode. These characteristics of the advertising language, which determine its uniqueness, were the result of the influence of external and internal factors. An external factor is the pragmatic nature of advertising, which manifests itself in its suggestive orientation. The internal factor determining the uniqueness of the advertising language is the orientation of the producer to the code. The advertiser consciously and carefully selects the method of encoding the message, so the creation of the advertising text takes place in the process of deep metalanguage reflection: creolized texts of modern advertising are permeated with metalanguage contexts. The analysis of the corpus of examples of modern advertising texts, taking into account the assumptions put forward, allows us to conclude that a high concentration of meta-texts is one of the main defining features of advertising discourse. The objectives of this article are to identify and manifest the key characteristics of the advertising language; to resolve the question of how legitimate the very fact of distinguishing the "advertising language" as a specific linguistic construct can be considered; to determine the key parameter that forms the "superstructure" of the advertising language over the basis of natural language. The key characteristics of the advertising language are determined by the communicative orientation of advertising texts. The latter is purely pragmatic in nature. The main purpose of the advertising text is to have an effective impact on the recipient. Moreover, this effect is characterized as indirect, having a manipulative nature. The suggestiveness of advertising is perceived as its immanent property and basic category. At the center of the study of the language of modern advertising is the problem of the correlation of text and metatext. Metalanguage reflection plays a great role in the creation of advertising texts. Creolized texts of modern advertising are permeated with metalanguage contexts. A high concentration of meta-texts is one of the main features of discourse. For the advertising discourse, this feature is decisive.


Keywords:

advertising discourse, communication space, advertising text, metalanguage reflection, creolized text, metatext, creativity, culturogenicity, intertextuality, polycode

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

 

The features of the structure and content of the communicative space are determined by cultural and historical factors. A retrospective look allows us to see how the image of the communicative space has been transformed under the influence of changes in the social, cultural, technological, political, religious modes of being: the ratio of the volumes of interpersonal and mass, direct and indirect, axial and retinal communication changed; new types and genres of communication appeared and developed; the communicative roles of communication subjects became more complicated and nuanced. A vivid example of this kind of evolution is the history of the formation and development of the sphere of advertising communication. Advertising communication in the XXI century is experiencing a rapid flourishing. Advertising discourse has acquired the status of one of the system-forming and all-encompassing (in the sense that almost all native speakers were involved in advertising activities, if not as producers of advertising, then as its consumers). The share of advertising messages in the global communication product is steadily growing.

Modern advertising has already gone far beyond just the sphere of communication, it is an extremely complex socio-cultural phenomenon in which, as in a mirror, the value imperatives of society are reflected, as well as the inner world of its members with their potential ideas, desires and volitional intentions. Therefore, in the last few decades, advertising has become an object of lively scientific interest. The focus of research attention turned out to be the socio-philosophical design of advertising, its psychological mechanisms, technological features and, of course, the language of advertising.

The present research is carried out in line with the tradition of studying advertising texts formed in Russian linguistics. This tradition was founded by the works of T.M. Dridze, Yu.A. Sorokin, E.F. Tarasov, L.G. Feshchenko [Dridze, 1984; Sorokin, Tarasov, 1990; Feshchenko, 2003]. The research activity of the last decades in this direction testifies to the development and deepening of this tradition [Yagodkina, 2009; Yezhova, 2010; Sharafutdinova, 2010; Zirka, 2014].

The objectives of our article are to identify and manifest the key characteristics of the advertising language; to resolve the question of how legitimate the very fact of distinguishing the "advertising language" as a specific linguistic construct can be considered; to determine the key parameter that forms the "superstructure" of the advertising language over the basis of natural language.

To begin with, we note that the key characteristics of the advertising language are determined by the communicative orientation of advertising texts. The latter is purely pragmatic. The main purpose of the advertising text is to have an effective impact on the recipient. Moreover, this effect is characterized as indirect, having a manipulative nature. The suggestiveness of advertising is perceived as its immanent property and basic category. Indeed, the effectiveness of advertising communication is largely determined by the suggestive potential of the texts being created. The suggestive orientation of advertising, in turn, sets the key characteristics of its language.

We will try to identify the most typical of these characteristics. The analysis of domestic and foreign studies of the advertising language, as well as our own observations on the empirical material presented in the form of advertising texts of various formats, allow us to conclude that there are six key characteristics of the advertising language. Among them we include creativity, interactivity, expressiveness, culturogenicity, intertextuality and polycode.

Firstly, the creative principle is clearly manifested in the language of modern advertising. Advertisers try to avoid banal ways of conveying ideas, in their activities they focus on how to diversify and enliven the fabric of the text in every possible way. The result of this was the spread of the phenomenon of advertising creativity. According to the majority of advertising researchers, advertising creativity, on the one hand, has a common nature with creativity, on the other, it has a significant difference. Currently, it is almost generally accepted to understand creativity as the embodiment of creativity limited by pragmatic frameworks [Dmitrieva, Tkachenko, 2006; Kaverina, 2011]. Various kinds of social and commercial orders act as a pragmatic framework, which largely determine the final type of advertising product. Based on the above definition of advertising creativity, one can definitely come to the conclusion that it is impossible to consider advertising as one of the types of art. Real art, as you know, presupposes the presence of creative freedom. In this regard, the statement that "creativity belongs to the world of art, and creativity belongs to the sphere of communications" seems fair [Kaverina, 2011, 151].

Creativity, being the most important characteristic of the advertising language, creates the necessary basis for the implementation of its next key feature. We will call this feature interactivity. It involves the active involvement of advertising consumers in the perception and "decryption" of the text. The creative nature of modern advertising texts creates a field of cognitive tension on the part of the perceiving consciousness, launches a virtual dialogue between the advertiser and native speakers – consumers of advertising. Perceiving the advertising text, the recipient does not just decode the information, but becomes a participant in a kind of game in which his intellectual capabilities, cultural guidelines, and sometimes even aesthetic preferences are involved. Therefore, it can be argued that the advertising text is dialogical in its essence. Taking into account the importance of interactivity as a property of the advertising language, some scientists consider it appropriate to talk about the emergence of a new type of advertising communication – advertising interactive communication [Dmitrieva, Tkachenko, 2006, 153].

One of the key characteristics of the advertising language is its expressiveness. Moreover, the concept of expressiveness is interpreted broadly by us, which corresponds to the current trends in the development of linguistic knowledge. Today, expressiveness is commonly understood as not just a set of structural, semantic and stylistic means used to express the speaker's subjective position in relation to the subject of speech, but also means of linguistic realization of such semantic categories as emotionality and intensity. Numerous examples of advertising texts testify to the high emotionality and intensity of the advertising language.

Culturogenicity is one of the key characteristics of the advertising language. Modern advertising is not just a mirror of the cultural development of society, not just the embodiment of a model of public relations. Today it can be stated that advertising, in addition to the reflective function, assumes a constructive function, "introducing new cultural priorities, preferences and consumer stereotypes" [Yezhova, 2010, 16]; advertising "becomes not so much a way of reflecting reality as a way of constructing it..." [Ibid., 24]. Culturogenicity is formed in the form of cultural concepts, which are defined in the linguistic fabric of advertising texts.

The characteristics listed above relate more to the content side of the advertising language. However, no less significant are the characteristics that determine the structural appearance of the advertising language. One of the most important structural characteristics of advertising texts is intertextuality. Advertising is an open communication space. It is focused on intertextual interaction, on a kind of "roll call" of texts. In the structure of the advertising text, the addressee often interweaves certain linguistic elements that genetically go back to previously created texts. The most frequent are the appeals of advertisers to culturally significant texts, from which the brightest and most suitable fragments from a pragmatic point of view are borrowed. These fragments are called precedent phenomena. Thus, intertextuality as a characteristic of the advertising language is realized in the form of widespread use of precedent phenomena in advertising texts.

Finally, an essential feature of the advertising language is its polycode structure. An advertising text, as a rule, is a heterogeneous structure consisting of verbal and iconic components, which gives it additional semiotic possibilities. Due to structural heterogeneity, advertising texts are commonly referred to as creolized. Polycode content leaves an imprint on the semantic characteristics of advertising texts. Thus, the semantics of the latter are revealed simultaneously through decoding elements of the verbal code and elements of the iconic (visual) code (for the nature of inter-code interaction in creolized texts, see [Sharafutdinova, 2010; Kravchenko, 2015]).

The key characteristics of the advertising language listed above largely determine its specifics. Such specificity explains the relevance of considering the advertising language as a separate, special subject of linguistic research.

The characteristics of the advertising language, which determine its uniqueness, were the result of the influence of external and internal factors. The external factor, as we have already noted, is the pragmatic nature of advertising, which manifests itself in its suggestive orientation. The search for an internal factor forces us to pay attention to the features of the iconic embodiment of advertising. In an advertising creolized text, the center of gravity is shifted from the content of the message towards the method of its transmission. In other words, what is more important is not what is transmitted, but how it is transmitted. Thus, the internal factor determining the uniqueness of the advertising language is the orientation of the producer to the code. The advertiser passes through the filters of consciousness not only the content of the message, but (first of all) its form; consciously and carefully selects the method of encoding the message. Therefore, the creation of an advertising text takes place in the process of deep metalanguage reflection.

Metalanguage reflection in modern linguistics is understood as the activity of metalanguage consciousness, which provides conscious operation of elements of the language code. The activity of metalanguage consciousness is aimed at understanding the units of language in order to evaluate them comprehensively, motivate the choice in a specific speech situation, clarify the nuances of meaning, build a series of semantic associations, etc.

Metalanguage consciousness solves problems of different levels and orders, which is why it is customary to talk about its heterogeneity. Most researchers share the point of view that metalanguage consciousness operates on three levels (exists in three variants): everyday, scientific and creative [Shumarina, 2011, 45-49]. Everyday metalanguage consciousness is inherent in an ordinary native speaker. His activity is manifested through the speaker's (writer's) reflection on the facts of language and speech, expressed in the form of various kinds of metalanguage comments. Scientific metalanguage consciousness is the property and tool of cognition of philologists. The result of the activity of scientific metalanguage consciousness is represented by the metalanguage of linguistics and texts of linguistic research. Finally, at the creative level of metalanguage consciousness, the object of reflection undergoes creative rethinking. Metalanguage consciousness of the creative level "creates a certain kind of increments, enriches the content of the object and expands the possibilities of its use and interpretation" [Ibid., 49]. It is at the creative level of metalanguage consciousness that the creation and processing of advertising texts takes place. In this regard, the perception of the advertising text as a product of metalanguage reflection looks natural.

The results of metalanguage reflection are formed in the form of "metatext" (a term introduced into scientific circulation by A. Vezhbitskaya) or "reflexive" (a term proposed by I.T. Vepreva). Following the developed logic, in the advertising text it is rather necessary to see not the actual text, but the meta text. It is in the metatext that the creative interpretation of the language code by the advertiser is "sewn up" (it is not by chance that in recent years there has been an interest in studying the linguistic personality of advertisers by analogy with the study of the linguistic personality of writers, artists, politicians, statesmen [Panteleeva, 2018]). The ratio of text and metatext components of an advertising message is determined on the coordinate axis "banality/creativity". At the same time, the dependence is derived quite simply: the more creative the product, the higher the role of metatext components in its creation. For the effective implementation of the suggestive function of advertising, metatext turns out to be more important than text.

It should be noted that advertising activity is capable of generating two types of meta-texts (reflexives): receptive and productive. Receptive meta-texts are a reflection of the metalanguage reflection of advertising consumers on the language of advertising texts. They are the result of the perception (reception) of advertising texts by the language team. In this case, metalanguage reflection proceeds, as a rule, at the level of ordinary metalanguage consciousness. The presence of such meta-texts once again testifies to the importance of advertising communication in modern society. It can also be stated that receptive metatexts have become a special subject of linguistic research [Balakhonskaya, 2010]. Receptive meta-texts in most cases reflect metalanguage reflection on advertising names and slogans. Receptive metatexts are characterized by a socio-evaluative orientation.

Productive metatexts are associated with the creative level of metalanguage consciousness. They are embodied in creolized advertising texts. This article is primarily devoted to the study of productive meta-texts.

An important issue in the study of productive meta-texts is the establishment of formal indicators (markers) of metalanguage reflection or so-called "meta-operators". Typical meta-operators include a variety of language game techniques (bearing in mind the polycode nature of advertising texts, it would be more correct to talk about a semiotic game), widely used in advertising texts. In the classification of signals of metalanguage reflection developed by Russian science, the techniques of linguistic (semiotic) play are classified as zero meta-operators [Shumarina, 2011, 82]. The latter are characterized by the absence of direct meta-indicators in the presence of an implicit background of the manifestation of metalanguage reflection [Ibid., 105]. Indeed, the language game cannot be literally called a metalanguage commentary, nevertheless, it certainly indicates the cognitive tension that accompanies the choice of language resources in the process of forming an advertising message. 

Extensive literature is devoted to the study of language play in advertising [Kuranova, 2011; Ilyasova, Amiri, 2013; Amiri, 2014; Zirka, 2014; Adyasova, Gridina, 2017]. However, most of these studies do not reveal the metalanguage nature of the language game. The latter is considered exclusively in the aspect of techniques that communicate the properties of creativity and expressiveness to the text. We see in the techniques of the language (semiotic) game formal markers of metalanguage reflection, which allow us to comprehend the advertising text as a meta-text. Let's turn to the examples that present the most typical features of meta-operators.

Firstly, the most common examples of reflection of metalanguage reflection in creolized texts include cases of various kinds of violations of the language standard: from violations of the formal appearance of signs to violations of a semantic nature. Such an abnormality pursues a very definite goal. It consists in the advertiser's desire to take the recipient out of the "zone of comfortable perception" of the text, to make him see and feel the additional code, while provoking a cognitive response in the form of a search for new meanings.

As a demonstration of the described technique, let's consider examples of deliberate violations of the spelling appearance of words. So, an interesting example is presented in a social advertisement aimed at combating alcohol addiction. This sample contains a metatext, where the fact of deviation from the spelling norm acts as a meta-operator: "Alcohol decomposes the brain" (Fig.1). This phrase does not just contain a warning, but due to a change in the spelling standard manifests lesions of the brain centers responsible for human communicative activity.

Fig. 1

A typical example is also the Alfa-Bank advertisement. Here, the violation of the spelling norm is expressed in unjustified incomplete spelling of words (Fig.2). Such spelling is intended to convey the idea of speed, speed, which, according to the creator of this advertisement, should be associated with the efficiency of the services provided by the bank.

Fig. 2

Violations of the language standard often occur in the field of semantic compatibility. Cases of violation of semantic compatibility are explained by combining words on the syntagmatic axis that do not have common semes in their structure. The analysis of creolized texts has shown that a productive model of this kind of deviation from the linguistic norm in advertising is the use of epithets with a positive meaning, as a result of which semantically non-standard phrases are formed. The role of epithets is to attract additional attention to the object of advertising. So, in the following advertisement for car tires, the phrase "delicious prices" is semantically profane (Fig.3). The meaning of the adjective is enhanced with the help of the iconic component of the creolized text. In the minds of advertising consumers, the phrase "delicious prices" is perceived as the equivalent of the phrase "attractive prices".

Fig.3

Observations on the collected empirical material give grounds to assert that epithets associated with the concept of "pleasure" are widely used in advertising texts. This suggests that for the modern consumer society, the topic of getting pleasure, in particular, getting pleasure in the process of eating behavior, is one of the significant imperatives. In the light of what has been said, the use of the phrase "appetizing windows", implying the meaning of "beautiful and high-quality windows", is already perceived as natural (Fig.4).

Fig. 4

Secondly, metalanguage reflection is manifested in the use of paragraph-like means in crealized texts. The technique of pseudo-articulation of text is especially common in modern advertising. The use of pseudo-articulation leads to a doubling of meaning and turns the text into a meta-text. So, in the advertising of the housing complex below, pseudo-articulation is implemented through color separation. As a result, two separate slogans are formed in the text: "You can rely on us here" and "Live here" (Fig.5). The first of them actualizes the idea of trust in the company, the second contains an emotional appeal.

Fig.5

The pseudo-articulation technique can be used not only when constructing a slogan or an echo phrase, but also when expanding the suggestive potential of an advertising neym. So, in the name of the dance club "District", through a pseudo-articulation, the advertiser designates the institution as "paradise in reality", "paradise in action". This happens as a result of the selection of the "paradise" part in it and the part perceived as the English-language "on" button - "start". The perception of the second part of the name as the "start" button is enhanced by the design of the letter "o" in the form of a special iconic sign (a subtle combination of verbal and iconic codes generates another version of the reading of the name: "start paradise") (Fig.6).   

Fig.6

Thirdly, the typical marker of metalanguage reflection in advertising texts are the techniques of lexical play. The lexical game indicates the presence of a metalanguage context. It becomes possible only as a result of reflection on linguistic matter. The techniques of lexical play, provoking the launch of associative series and the clash of meanings, create a semantic multiplicity of creolized texts. Among the techniques of the lexical game, the technique of paronymic attraction stands out. It consists in the deliberate convergence of lexemes-paronyms. Moreover, the paronymic attraction can be both open (lexemes-paronyms are adjacent on the syntagmatic axis) and hidden (the second member of the attraction is not present in the text, but arises in the recipient's mind as a result of allusion). The second type of paronymic attraction is especially productive. Thus, the phrases "passenger car" and "easy life" are associatively linked in the advertisement of a Chevrolet car (Fig.7).

Fig. 7

In the advertising of the developer's services below, the lexemes-the paronyms "autumn" and "overshadow" converge. As a result of this attraction, an additional meaning is born: "a wonderful idea in the fall – buying a home" (Fig.8).

Fig. 8

Often the lexical game refers to the resources of lexical ambiguity or homonymy. The deliberate use of polysemous words or homonyms in creolized texts leads to the creation of the effect of semantic ambiguity. There is a clash of meanings. By this action, the advertiser seeks to put the recipient in a state of cognitive difficulty. Overcoming this ambiguity requires the recipient to respond with metalanguage activity. So, in the example below, the homonyms existing at the linguistic level, gender 1 (indoor coverage) and gender 2 (sexual characteristics separating men and women), make the call for a sex change ambiguous (Fig.9).

Fig. 9

A similar ambiguous situation arises in an example based on the ambiguity of the verb to throw off. In the above creolized text, two of its meanings are potentially actualized: drop1 (throw down, reset) and drop2 (in common parlance - reduce something) (Fig.10).

Fig.10

    Summing up the above, we note that the problem of the correlation of text and metatext lies at the center of the study of the language of modern advertising. Metalanguage reflection plays a great role in the creation of advertising texts. Creolized texts of modern advertising are permeated with metalanguage contexts. In this connection, A. Vezhbitskaya's deep thought is recalled that the "quantitative and qualitative"contribution of "metatext to the text is one of the essential indicators of stylistic differences" [Vezhbitskaya, 1978, 421]. Paraphrasing this statement in a modern way and extrapolating it to modern discursive practice, we can say that a high concentration of meta-texts is one of the main features of discourse. For the advertising discourse, this feature is decisive.

 

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The article presented for consideration "Reflection of metalanguage reflection in modern advertising, or When metatext is more important than text", proposed for publication in the journal "Litera", is undoubtedly relevant, since the development of communication, acceleration of the information exchange process and increasing competition every year have led to the fact that advertising communication in the XXI century is experiencing a rapid flourishing. Thus, it is noted that the share of advertising messages in the global communication product is steadily growing. The present study is carried out in line with the tradition of studying advertising texts that has been formed in Russian linguistics. The objectives of the reviewed article are to identify and manifest the key characteristics of the advertising language; to resolve the question of how legitimate the very fact of distinguishing the "advertising language" as a specific linguistic construct can be considered; to determine the key parameter that forms the "superstructure" of the advertising language over the basis of natural language. The author conducted an analysis of domestic and foreign studies of the advertising language, as well as his own observations on the empirical material presented in the form of advertising texts of various formats, allow us to conclude that there are six key characteristics of the advertising language, which are creativity, interactivity, expressiveness, culturogenicity, intertextuality and polycode. Undoubtedly, the topic stated by the author is of some interest, since the modern phenomenon of advertising is being comprehended. In his research, the author resorts to scientific generalization of literature and statistical data on a selected topic and analysis of factual data. Of particular interest are the examples of creolized advertising texts that the author analyzes. It should be noted that in the study the author considers both the theoretical basis of the problem field concerned and the practical problems. The study was carried out in line with modern scientific approaches, the work consists of an introduction containing the formulation of the problem, the main part, traditionally beginning with a review of theoretical sources and scientific directions, a research and final one, which presents the conclusions obtained by the author. Structurally, the article consists of several semantic parts, namely: introduction, literature review, methodology, research progress, conclusions. The article presents a research methodology, the choice of which is quite adequate to the goals and objectives of the work. This work was done professionally, in compliance with the basic canons of scientific research. It should be noted that the author does not provide information about how much data was used in the work on the article and what methods were used to process the data obtained. The bibliography of the article contains 18 sources, which include exclusively domestic works. The absence of references to foreign works indicates that the work is not included in the global scientific paradigm. Like any large-scale work, the work in question is not without drawbacks. So, there are some violations in the work that were committed during the design of the list of sources, namely, the principle of violating the alphabetical sequence of the list is unclear. However, this remark does not detract from the tremendous work done by the author. The article will undoubtedly be useful to a wide range of people, philologists, journalists, undergraduates and graduate students of specialized universities. The overall impression after reading the reviewed article is positive, it can be recommended for publication in a scientific journal from the list of the Higher Attestation Commission.
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