1.1 Rationale of the Research
Recent years, as the increasing development of the economy, automobile is no longer aluxury good but as an ordinary thing and gradually comes into ordinary family. As the mostimportant tool for sales, advertisement plays an important role in propagating products.Usually advertising language is likely in an oral style, easy to understand and easy toremember. Advertising language is a persuasive language and this character decides it hasanother character: vague. Usually the use of precise words makes the language rigidly andeasy to expose the products’ weakness. Vagueness has the character of uncertain boundaryline so it has more generality and more flexibility. This can give the customer much moreroom for imagination and easy to accept the products.Vagueness as an inherent property of natural language, in order to make special effects,has been widely used in advertising language. It is researched that there are about 150 to 450vague words to be used per hour in our daily language. That means every 15 seconds we use avague word. Advertising language, as a special language, has its own special characters,which demands its language both precise and vague. It maybe contradict, but the purpose ofthe advertising language is to attract the attention of the customer, to seduce the customer andfinally to persuade the customer to buy the commodity. Rational used of vagueness can avoidabsolute concepts so as not to undertake certain responsibilities. For e.g. Probably the bestbeer in the world. This is a famous beer brand’s advertising. Here the word ‘probably’ is avague word, best beer maybe too absolute, but the use of ‘probably’ makes these allreasonable thus make better advertising effectiveness.As the three basic functions of systemic functional grammar, interpersonal functionmeans people use different mood and modality to express different ideas and feelings so as toexchange information. According to Halliday’ functional grammar, there are threemetafunctions in linguistics. The first is the experiential; the second is the interpersonal; andthe third is the textual, which explores how meanings are created and understood. Theinterpersonal meaning means that our main purpose of communicating is to interact withother people.
1.2 Significance of the Research
As the development of China’s economy, the living standard has been proved rapidly.Automobiles have come into ordinary people’s family. For many people, owing a car was notonce a luxury thing but an ordinary transportation tool. In fact, advertising plays the mostimportant role in the products selling. A good wording advertising can express betterinterpersonal meanings so as to arouse the consumers’ desire to buy things.By investigating the advertising language, we can convey some interpersonal meanings,which the manufacturers wanted to express, such as, the attitude of the consumer andresponse of the customer, the expected response and affect they want to receive from theaudience. A good advertisement can arouse the consumer’s strong desire to buy thecommodity.Also this research has significance from both theoretical and practical. This researchcombined vagueness and interpersonal meaning. This can enrich the research of interpersonalmeaning from theory. Also this research selected many classical automobile advertisingslogans and gave a thorough analyzed on the interpersonal meaning of the vagueness theycontained. These can also enrich the corpora for the research.
2 Literature Review
2.1 Advertising Language
Recent years, the living standard of people’s have been raising rapidly as thedevelopment of our society. More and more commodities are provided for people to beselected. As the most powerful and efficient tool for goods selling, advertising plays asignificant role. Now, let’s look at what is advertising. Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage, persuade,or manipulate an audience, such as viewers, readers or listeners, sometimes a specific group,to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumerbehavior with respect to a commercial offering.In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, lost and found advertising on papyrus wascommon, which proved that the trace of advertising back to 4000 BC. The history tells us thatOut-of-home advertising and billboards are the oldest forms of advertising.Advertisements began to appear in weekly newspapers in England, as education becamean apparent need.Thomas J. Barratt from London has been called “ the father of modern advertising”. Hisfamous advertising slogan “Good morning. Have you used Pears’ soap?” has made Pears Soapbecame the world’s first legally registered brand and is therefore the world’s oldestcontinuously existing brand.In the 20thcentury, as the development of industrialization, advertising increaseddramatically as the need of manufactured products.Then, what is advertising? “Advertising is the nonpersonal communication ofinformation usually paid for and usually persuasive about products, services or ideas byidentified sponsors through the various media.”(Bovee, 1992,p.7) By understanding thisdefinition, first, we should make it out what is nonpersonal. Usually there are two basic waysto sell things: personally and nonpersonally. Personal means direct selling, usually there aresellers and buyers or salesmen and customers. Advertising is nonpersonal communication, itdoesn’t need sellers or salesmen, and any place that delivered the products message can be anadvertisement. Advertising is nonpersonal, but most effective.
Vagueness, the term is used to indicate that something is ambiguous, obscure, unclear,fuzzy or maybe too general. It means borderline cases, it plays such an important role in ourlives, and vagueness is inherent while we dealings with the world around us. Vagueness is justlike the original sin: a stain that can be diminished but never removed. Vagueness is thesorites paradox and is simply unavoidable and sometimes preferable to precision. It is hard todefine by an exact definition. Sometimes vagueness is not a bad thing, it can expressunexpected effects. Now, let’s see the definition of vagueness. Vagueness is pervasive. As it is expressed, it is semantic indeterminacy, or supposedindeterminacy. Vagueness is highly polysemous term, in common parlance, the term is used toindicate that something is unclear, obscure, ambiguous, too general, indeterminate,uninformative, fuzzy, obtuse, abstract, indistinct, inexact, unspecific, or elusive. (Agler 2010)
Chapter Three Theoretical Foundations.........15
3.1 Halliday’s Systemic-Functional Grammar......15
3.1.1 Systemic Grammar.........15
3.1.2 Functional Grammar.......16
3.2 Interpersonal Function....17
3.2.1 Speech Role....17
3.2.2 Main Components of Interpersonal Function........18
Chapter Four Results and Discussions...........22
4.1 Interpersonal Meaning Conveyed by Person Mood.......22
4.1.1 Interpersonal Meaning in the First Person.....22
4.1.2 Interpersonal Meaning in the Second Person... ....23
4.1.3 Interpersonal Meaning in the Third Person...........24
4.2 Interpersonal Meaning Conveyed by Modality......25
4.3 Interpersonal Meaning Conveyed by Appraisal.....28
Chapter Five Conclusions..........38
5.1 Major Findings.........38
5.3 Recommendations for Future Research...........39
4 Results and Discussions
4.1 Interpersonal Meaning Conveyed by Person System
Although the advertisement was designed for every customer, but the advertiser isalways tried to make the customers believe that the advertisement was designed for thespecial customer. That is the advertisement was designed for only one customer. Usually thiskind of affect is fulfilled by the use of the personal pronoun. For instance, in the Englishadvertisement, the use of first person pronoun “I” and “we”(also their object forms possessivepronoun such as “me, my, mine, us, our, and ours) was the most important factor to let thecustomer believe that the merchandize is designed as a whole with the company and theirservice. In fact, pronouns usually express vague because if we want to analyze the referenceand indicate of the pronoun we usually needs to combine with the language environment.The below is the distribution of person in the English automobile advertisement. Withthese figure, we can see that, the second person pronoun is used the most frequently, thenthird person pronoun. The first person pronoun is used the less one.
Vagueness, as the inherent property of natural language, has been researched fromdifferent perspectives recent year. The study on vagueness is mostly from pragmatics,semantics, and syntax etc. The researchers take different discourses as the research target,such as, news, instructions, literature works, advertising, book review, academic etc. Usuallypeople thinks vague expression is not good. But in fact, the use percentage of vagueexpressions in advertising language has increased rapidly. In this thesis, we selected 100classical and famous automobile advertisements as research samples. We take Halliday’ssystemic functional grammar as the theoretical framework and try to analyze the interpersonalmeaning of vagueness in the automobile advertising language. After the systemic study of the selected samples, we get the bellowed conclusion thatvagueness shows in the automobile advertising language. vagueness has been largely used in the English automobile advertising languageand played active interpersonal meanings. Hence the use percentage has been grown uprapidly. Advertising language is different from the other language from its style and function.The purpose of advertising language is to arouse the customer’s attention and seduce them tobuy the products. So usually advertising language should have a persuasive power. It isresearched that precise wording makes language much serious and easy to expose theweakness. Vagueness, because of it property of uncertainty, gives much imagination roomsfor the customers. It can contain more information because of its unclear boundary. This is thereason why the vagueness is largely used in the advertising language.