LINGUIST List 14.1594

Wed Jun 4 2003

Review: Text Linguistics: Goddard (2002)

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  1. ´┐Żlisabeth Le, The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd ed.

Message 1: The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd ed.

Date: Wed, 04 Jun 2003 17:55:12 +0000
From: ´┐Żlisabeth Le <>
Subject: The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd ed.

Goddard, Angela (2002) The Language of Advertising: Written Texts, 2nd
ed., Routledge, Intertext Series.

Announced at

Elisabeth Le, University of Alberta 


''The Language of Advertising - Written Texts'' is part of the
Intertext series that is composed of a foundation text, ''Working with
texts: A core introduction to language analysis'', and several
satellite texts. Their goal is to develop the understanding of how
texts work ''by showing some of the designs and patterns in the
language from which they are made, by placing texts within the
contexts in which they occur, and by exploring relationships between
them'' (p. iv). Each satellite text is designed to be used in
conjunction with the foundation text or independently. This review
looks at ''The Language of Advertising - Written Texts'' as an
independent text only.


The book contains nine units, and ends with commentaries on various
activities proposed in each unit, a combined glossary and index, a
list of further readings, and references. Each unit follows a
task-based approach. It starts with the explanation of its aims, and
how these aims connect with those of the previous units. Typically,
readers are led to discover relevant concepts through the use of
examples and a number of activities based on the analysis of various
ads. Activities are connected with each other with short and clear
explanations. At the end of the unit, different practical ideas are
proposed to explore further aspects of the unit topic. The
commentaries offered at the end of the book for some of the activities
provide additional theory-based but concrete explanations on the
manner advertising works. The topics covered by the book are: 1)
''What is an advertisement?''; 2) ''Attention-seeking devices''
(image, fonts, layout); 3) ''Writers, readers and texts'' (writer and
narrator, narratee, point of view); 4) ''How does that sound?'' (use
of aspects of spoken speech in written text); 5) ''Nautical but nice:
intertextuality''; 6) ''Cultural variations'' (in terms of different
cultures and different eras in the same culture) 7) ''Tricks of the
trade'' (use of comparative reference, connotation of words,
problem-solution format, use of hook-lines, playing off written
language against its spoken equivalent); 8) ''Picture me this'' (use
of images to construct the ad's meaning, nature of symbolic
representation); 9) ''Language on the move'' (strategies to create a
dynamic impression: placement, non-linearity, interactivity).

In short, the definition of advertising is followed by the
consideration of people involved in the advertised message, and by the
study of the ad's textual content, its relations with the context, and
its use of communication strategies (linguistic, iconic, discursive).
Thus, the book emphasises the dynamic process in advertising: ads are
messages that are constructed and imply an active participation to be


The book content reveals clearly that it is not comprehensive in its
exploration of advertising, neither is it deep in what it does, nor is
it usable as such throughout the English-speaking world. Indeed, while
the iconic side of ads is rightly taken into consideration, music is
not. If images are considered part of the ''language of advertising'',
why should not the music accompanying TV ads be so too? One could
consider that this exclusion was announced by the book subtitle,
''Written texts''. The non-consideration of music seems to serve as a
justification not to analyse TV ads, although they reach a very wide
audience and present a particularly interesting combination of all
different types of communication strategies (oral and written text,
icons, music, ''movement''). This is all the less understandable that
internet ads, seen by fewer people than TV ads, are mentioned. The
very simple manner in which internet in general is presented will be
appreciated in areas where access to computers is limited, but in
others might appear as rather childish. The book does not go into
particularly precise explanations of relevant aspects of theory, but
merely introduces various concepts. Finally, the ads analysed and
referred to are all British and will not appeal to students in
different parts of the English-speaking world.

However, a book is written with a specific audience in mind and it
cannot do everything. What this book does is to provide a very
accessible and practical introduction to the ways some types of
advertising language works in its context to (preferably British)
students towards the end of their secondary education or very
beginning of higher education. Explanations are short and
simple. Every single word that might appear technical is clearly
defined in the units and in the index of terms (combined glossary and
index). The pedagogical approach (from concrete activities to some
theory and again to concrete activities) is very conducive to learning
and awakening of critical thinking.

As such, this book is not comparable with Guy Cook's ''Discourse of
Advertising'' (2nd ed., 2001) that is clearly written with more
advanced students in mind and is also published by Routledge. (See for a review of this
book.) However, ''The Language of Advertising'' contains numerous
pedagogical ideas that would gain to be included in any course on


Elisabeth Le is Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics in the
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University
of Alberta (Canada). Her main research interests are in Discourse
Analysis. Her present research project deals with the representation
of intercultural relations, national identity and ideology in French,
American, and Russian newspapers.
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