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A study on english advertising slogans of cars





Hanoi, 2016






Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Van Que

Hanoi, 2016

Certificate of originality
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in
English Linguistics. Except where the reference is indicated, no other person‘s
work has been used without due acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2016
Dao Thi Viet

Approved by


This thesis could not have been completed without the help and support from a
number of people. First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere
gratitude to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Van Que, my supervisor, who has patiently
and constantly supported me through the stages of the study, and whose
stimulating ideas, expertise, and suggestions have inspired me greatly through
my growth as an academic researcher. A special word of thanks goes to my
family and many others, without whose support and encouragement it would
never have been possible for me to have this thesis accomplished. Last but not
least, I am greatly indebted to my family for the sacrifice they have devoted to
the fulfillment of this academic work.


for example




Noun phrase







Prep.P :

Prepositional phrase

ad :


Chart 1: Slogans language at phonological level


Chart 2: Slogans language at syntactic level


Chart 3: Number of pronouns in the study (also includes the inflected 58
forms, e.g. us, our, ourselves)
Chart 4: Slogans language at lexical level


Chart 5: Common verbs used in advertising slogans of car


Table 1: The average sentence length of each sample advertising 40
Figure 1: The ten most popular adjectives and verbs in Leech's (1966) 19
Figure 2: The communication process in advertising















Rationale for the research



Aims of the research



Objectives of the research



Scope of the research



Significance of the research



Structural organization of the thesis






Review of previous studies

2.1.1. Previous studies overseas


2.1.2. Previous studies in Vietnam





Review of theoretical background
Theoretical framework

8 Theory of discourse

8 Theory of discourse analysis

9 Theory of phonological, syntactic, and lexical strategies used in


advertising Phonological strategies

12 Syntactic strategies

13 Lexical strategies


2.2.2. Theoretical background

23 Advertising

23 Slogan







3.1. Research-governing orientations


3.1.1. Research questions


3.1.2. Research setting


3.1.3. Research approach


3.1.4. Principles/criteria for intended data collection and data analysis


3.2. Research methods


3.2.1. Major methods vs. supporting methods


3.2.2. Data collection techniques


3.2.3. Data analysis techniques


3.3. Summary




4.1. Findings and discussions


4.1.1. In terms of phonological features


4.1.2. In terms of syntactic features


4.1.3. In terms of lexical features


4.2. Possible implications for writing effective, impressive, and


fascinating car advertising slogan
4.2.1. In terms of phonological features


4.2.2. In terms of syntactic features


4.2.3. In terms of lexical features


4.3. Summary




5.1. Recapitulation


5.2. Concluding remarks


5.3. Limitations of the current research


5.4. Recommendations and suggestions for future researches



Chapter 1

Rationale for the research

Advertisement has become an indispensable part in modern life and it has
considerable impact on people‘s purchasing behavior. Advertisement appears
everywhere from the media like TV, Internet, radio, or public places such as
billboards, buses, bus stops, ect. Using advertisements is considered a solution
of seeking a channel for organizations or companies to reach out the world with
their messages. Slogans are taken as the heart of advertisements and they help
advertisers to transmit the advertised products‘ messages to the customers as
well as persuade them to take action of purchasing products. However, how to
create a good and successful slogan to bring in customers‘ mind the image of
the product and encourage them to buy is not always an easy task.
Being aware of the importance of advertising slogans in conveying products‘
messages to customers and gaining profits for producers, many researchers have
been done to study the topics of advertising slogans to reveal characteristics of
good slogans. One of the most renowned studies on the language of advertising
was conducted by Geoffrey N. Leech (1966), who described British television
advertising from a linguistic point of view. In his study, Leech developed the
concept of ―Standard Advertising English‖ by listing the most prominent and
widespread characteristics in his research of advertisements. Although some
common linguistic features of advertising in English have been revealed in his
research, those features of a specific product have not been mentioned.
Besides researches on language of advertising in general and on topics about
certain products such as cosmetics, house ware, food, medicine, ect, that appear
in high frequency on media and billboards and other means of advertisements, a
comprehensive study on advertising slogans of cars has not been dealt with so
far although the demand for this product is constantly increasing due to the

improvement of the quality of life.
For these above reasons, the writer have motivation to carry out ―A Study
on English Advertising Slogans of Cars” with a view to investigate the
linguistic features of good car advertising slogans as well as to satisfy the need
of creating a sharp, effective, and fascinating slogans for car producers.

Aims of the research

The study is carried out with the aim of drawing out some hints for advertisers
in car industry to create effective, impressive, and fascinating advertising
slogans of cars in English.

Objective(s)of the research

To achieve the above aim, two specific objectives have been put forward as

Finding out the phonological, syntactic, and lexical features of English
advertising slogans of cars.


Suggesting some possible implications for writing effective,
impressive, and fascinating car advertising slogans.


Scope of the research

With the purpose of drawing out some hints for advertisers, especially those in
car industry,to improve their effectiveness and professionality in writing
advertising slogans as well as investigating phonological, syntactic, and lexical
features of car advertising slogans, the study just focuses on:

Academic scope:
Phonological, syntactic, and lexical features of the slogans are
extensively discussed.


Social scope:

100 slogans from the advertisements of world-famous car companies,
and the biggest ones of some developed countries.
Semantic features are not included in the present thesis as it is too vague and
ambiguous when looking at the advertising slogans. Stylistic features were
mostly excluded from the analysis as they were beyond the scope of this thesis.
Similarly, extra- linguistic factors, such as typography and layout, may also
influence the consumer's perception of the advertisement, but they were also
excluded from this thesis as the focus was purely linguistics.

Significance of the research
Theoretical significance

The thesis deals with finding out linguistic features of advertising slogans of
cars in English, so its findings are able to be used for subsequent research arise
later such as the similarities and differences of advertising slogans of cars in
English and Vietnamese or a study on the development of advertising slogans of
cars in English and their change over certain period of time from the linguistic

Practical significance

The study is carried out with the hope to provide common linguistic hints on
creating good and effective advertising slogans of cars in English. Besides, the
study‘s findings hope to make contributions to further studies related to
language in advertising in general.

Structural organization of the research

The study consists of five chapters: introductions, literature review, research
methodology, findings and discussion, and conclusions.
The thesis starts out with introduction chapter where the overview of the thesis
including rationale, aims of the research,objectives of the research, scope of the

research, significance of the research, and structure of the research should be
The second chapter, namely literature review, presents an overview of some
previous researches on the same subject both in English and Vietnamese. At the
same time, it provides a theoretical background to this study with theoretical
preliminaries directly related to the investigation of English employed in
advertising slogans of cars including advertising and advertising slogans,
discourse and related issues, linguistic features of language of advertising.
The third chapter, methodology focuses on describing the methods and
materials used in doing the research, including data collection and data analysis
techniques to help the author achieve the best results in the study.
The findings and discussions chapter recapitulates the findings in the
characteristics of the English language used in car advertising slogans and also the
discussions with comments on these findings in previous section.
The last chapter, conclusion, gives a brief summary of the main points presented
in the thesis, concluding rrecapitulation, concluding remarks, limitations of the
current study, and provides some suggestions for further studies.

Chapter 2

Review of previous studies

Being aware of the importance role of advertising in the daily communication in
the society as well as in creating advertising texts and slogans , many
researchers has taken studies on advertising language in various field such as
syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and translation, ect.
2.1.1. Previous studies overseas
There are a lot researches which have been cconducted in every aspect of the
advertising in English, many of which cover the features of advertising
language. Some famous titles that can be mentioned here are “English in
advertising: A linguistic study of advertising in Great Britain” by Geoffrey
N.Leech (1966), ―Advertising as communication” by Gillian Dyer (1982),
―English for sale: A study of the language of advertising” by Lars Hermeren
(1999), or ―The discourse of advertising‖ by Guy Cook (2001). There are also
some researches which only focus on some certain features in advertising
language. Typical examples are ―Selling America: Puns, language and
adverting‖ by Michel Monnot (1982), “Pictorial Metaphor in Advertising” by
Char Forceville (1998). There are also some contrastive studies which compare
the advertising language in English and that in other languages, e.g.
―Advertising language: A pragmatic approach to advertisements in Britain and
Japan‖ by Keiko Tanaka (1994).
In 2006, Janalapsanska, a Slovakian author conducted a study: “The language
of advertising with the concentration on the linguistic means and the analysis of
advertising slogans”. In the study, the author scopes his attention to the
linguistic means used in advertising. The study found out linguistic means used

in advertising language in phonological, lexical and morphological, syntactic,
and semantic aspects. Although the thesis covers all aspects of linguistics, its
result reflects only representatives of advertising slogans of many products. It
did not focus on a specific product, thus the findings is advisable for references
when studying language of advertising.
In 2015, a study on language of advertising was conducted: “The language of
advertising: analysis of advertising slogans in fast food industry” by Bc. Adela
Pilátová. The study language strategies used in advertising slogans of fast food
in terms of phonology, lexicology, syntactic, semantics and discourses. The
thesis of the analyzed slogans is limited to four companies and slogans were
chosen subjectively. Therefore, results of this analysis should not be generalized
and applied to all slogans of all companies. It is only a sample of slogans from
fast food industry. However, the playfulness of language and the importance of
slogans for development of language can be still confirmed.
In 2015, Mehwish Noor et al. carried out a study namely ―The language of TV
Commercials‟ Slogan: A Semantic Analysis”. The study investigated on the
linguistic means and devices used by copywriters of TV commercials to
influence the viewers and highlight the semantic property of TV commercial
2.1.2. Previous studies in Vietnam
In Vietnam, some notable researches on the language of advertising include two
PhD theses done by Mai Xuan Huy (2001) on ―Các đặc điểm của ngôn ngữ
quảng cáo dưới ánh sáng của lý thuyết giao tiếp” (Features of advertising
language in the light of communicative theory) and Ton Nu My Nhat (2005) in
which she carried out a contrastive discourse analysis of travel advertisements
based on the theory of Functional Grammar.

Besides, there are many articles on the matter of advertising language which are
collected by Nguyen Kien Truong in 2004 in a book called ―Quảng cáo và ngôn
ngữ quảng cáo: (Advertising and the language of advertising).
Also, there are some M.A theses carried out at institutional level. For example,
in Vietnam National University, Hanoi College of Foreign Languages, a thesis
on ―Presupposition and Implicature in English and Vietnamese Advertising
Slogans‖ by Tran Thien Tu in 2007 and ―A discourse analysis of travel
advertisements in English and Vietnamese” by Ton Nu Nhat Le in 2005”. All
those books, articles and studies have revealed typical and very interesting
features of advertising language in general and slogans in particular.
In 2001, Mai Xuan Huy carried out a PhD study on language of advertising
namely ―Các đặc điểm của ngôn ngữ quảng cáo dưới ánh sáng của lý thuyết
giao tiếp” (Features of advertising language in the light of communicative
theory). The study investigated on semantic and pragmatic structure of
advertising slogans in Vietnamese at the time that the study was conducted.
This is the first project of Vietnam that has surveyed and researched on the
characteristics of advertising language most comprehensively and completely.
Moreover, this is also the first study that has approached the language of
advertising in the light of communicative theory and pragmatics. By studying
semantic and pragmatic structure of advertising language, the study defined
mechanism of the activity of creating language in advertising slogans of
advertisers. Besides, the thesis discovered some interesting phenomena of
semantics and pragmatics in Vietnamese.
In 2015, Nguyen Thi Thu Thao took ―A contrastive analysis of English and
Vietnamese real estate advertising slogans in printed advertisement‖. In the
thesis, she focuses on examining the phonological, lexical, and syntactic
characteristics of advertising slogans of estate of the two varieties. The thesis‘

finding showed the similarities and differences in the linguistic features of real
estate advertising slogans in English and Vietnamese language.
However, examining the above studies, the writer finds that many linguists,
grammarians, have been absorbed in advertising language. Many researchers
have dealt with advertising language in many aspects but the language of
advertising slogans of cars is still an open subject which has given fully detailed
So far, there have found no studies give fully detailed analysis of the linguistic
features of advertising slogans of cars. Therefore, this thesis is being conducted
to find the mentioned above features and together propose some possible
applications for creating fascinating advertising slogans of cars.

Review of theoretical background

2.2.1. Theoretical framework Theory of discourse
The term discourse is defined under different linguists‘ point of views. Crystal
(1992:25) considers discourse as a continuous stretch of (esp spoken) language
larger than a sentence, often constituting a coherent unit, such as a sermon,
argument, joke or narrative. In Nunan‘s viewpoint, (1993: 6) discourse is the
interpretation of the communicative event in context. To Halliday and Hasan
(1985:3), discourse is functional language. This fact suggests that linguists need
more debates and discussion before an agreeable definition of discourse is
However, the following definition of discourse suggested by Guy Cook seems
to provide relatively sufficient information so that we can shape a clear image
of discourse in our minds:

“Discourses are stretches of language perceived to be meaningful, unified, and
purposive” (1989: 156)
“Discourse may be composed of one or more well-formed grammatical
sentences – and indeed it often is – but it does not have to be. It can have
grammatical “mistakes” in it, and often does.”
“Discourse can be anything from a grunt or single expletive, through short
conversations and scribbled notes right up to Tolstoy‟s novel, WAR AND
PEACE, or a lengthy legal case. What matters is not its conformity to rules, but
the fact that it communicates and is recognized by its receivers as coherent.”
It can be inferred from this definition that advertisements and advertising
slogans are undeniably discourses due to their communication function and they
are recognized by their potential customers as coherent. This is because
advertisements themselves are messages from manufacturers or service
providers to their customers and slogans are those messages in the most concise
ways. Theory of discourse analysis
Different linguists seek to define context from different point of view in order to
answer questions encountered in their own fields, and to support their own ideas
and theories. H. G. Widdowson, when focusing his study on language meaning,
thought ―context‖ as ―those aspects of the circumstance of actual language use
which are taken as relevant to meaning.‖ He further pointed out, ―in other
words, context is a schematic construct... the achievement of pragmatic
meaning is a matter of matching up the linguistic elements of the code with the
schematic elements of the context.” (H.G. Widdowson, 2000, p.126). When
Guy Cook was studying the relationship between discourse and literature, he

took ―context‖ into consideration as well. In his definition, context is
―knowledge of the world outside language‖ which helps us to understand and
use it to interpret the messages both in spoken and written form and the term
―context‟ can be used in a broad and narrow sense. In the narrow sense, it
refers to (knowledge of) factors outside the text under consideration. In the
broad sense, it refers to (knowledge of) these factors and to (knowledge of)
other parts of the text under consideration, sometimes referred to as “co-text.‖
(Guy Cook, 1999, p. 24). When studying reference and inference, George Yule
also took ―context” into account. He provided us with a somewhat general
definition, ―Context is the physical environment in which a word is used.”
(George Yule, 2000, 128). According to Nunan (1993: 10), ―context refers to
the situation giving rise to the discourse and within which discourse is
embedded‖. Although they are viewed from different perspectives for different
purposes, these definitions have an important point in common: one main point
of the context is the environment (circumstances or factors by some other
scholars) in which a discourse occur. From those ways of defining context, it
can be concluded that context is something that we need to understand the
discourse and there is no discourse without context.
Role of context in discourse analysis
There exist many definitions of discourse, but the following ones help to make
clear understanding of discourse.
To Halida M.A.K & Hassan R., (1976), “discourse is language that is
functional-language that is doing some job in some context as opposed to
isolated words or sentences. Discourse can be spoken, written or in other
medium of expression.”
“Discourse is a unit of language in use. It is not a grammatical unit, like a
clause or a sentence.”. “A discourse does not consist of sentences: it is
recognized by, or encoded in sentences.”

Nunan D., 1993 defines discourse as “a stretch of language consisting of
several sentences, which are perceived as being related in some way. Sentences
can be related, not only in terms of the idea they share but also in terms of the
job they perform within the discourse-that is in terms of their functions”.
From above definition of discourse, we can see that discourse analysis studies
language in use: both written texts of all kinds and spoken data from informal to
formal speech and it also studies the language phenomena above the sentence
level that are influenced by contexts, social phenomena, social relationships as
well as cultural factors.
Hymes (1962) sees contexts as a limit of the range of possible interpretations,
and on the other hand, a supporter of the intended interpretation. He states as
“The use of linguistic form identifies a range of meanings. A context can
support a range of meanings. When a form is used in a context, it eliminates the
meanings possible to that context other than those the form can signal; the
context eliminates from consideration the meanings possible in the form other
than those the context can support. ”(Hymes, 1962 quoted in Brown and Yules,
Hymes (1962) focuses on the features of context in which it is thought to be
relevant to the reading and interpretation of discourse as follow:
1. Addresser and addressee

6. Code

2. Audience

7. Message-form

3. Topic

8. Event

4. Setting

9. Key

5. Channel

10. Purpose


Different linguists give different concepts of register. According to Halliday
(1985:12) “Register may be defined as the variety of a language used in
particular situational context”.
Michael (1991:478) sees register from a different point of view. To him,
“register reflects the degree of technical specification in the language of
economics, banking and finance, international business, advertising, medicine,
information technology and so forth. Discourse register reflects the degree of
formality of particular text by using a characteristic set of lexical and
grammatical features”.
Moreover, Galperin (1977:319) suggests that, “a functional style of language is
a system of interrelated language means which serves a definite aim in
From different definitions of register above, it can be seen that registers of
functional styles are linguistic variations linked to specific occupations,
professions, topics and so on to serve a specific aim in communication. Theory of phonological, syntactic, and lexical strategies used in

Phonological strategies

Definition of rhyme, for instance in Oxford dictionary is said that it is
correspondence of sound between words of endings of words, especially when
these are used at the end of lines of poetry (―Rhyme‖). It is believed to be one of
the best techniques in advertising. When rhyme is used in the slogan it is
essential when it also reflects the brand name. The brand name should be part of
the rhyme. Rhyme always refers to sounds, not spelling (Xiaosong). For
instance: Don‟t just book it, Thomas Cook it (advertising of a travel agency).

Alliteration can be defined as ―the commencement of two or more stressed
syllables of a word group either the same consonant sound or sound group
(consonantal alliteration) as in from stem to stern, or with vowel sound that may
differ from syllable to syllable (vocalic alliteration) as in each to all or two or
more words of a word group with the same letter‖ (―alliteration‖). Example of
the advertising slogan with alliteration can be found in Jaguar slogan: ―Grace,
Space, Pace” or Toyota slogan: ―Today, Tomorrow, Toyota‖.

Syntactic stratergies

Short simple sentences
Quirk and Greenbaum divided simple sentences into four major syntactic types,
based on their use they correspond with four discourse functions. Declaratives
primarily function as statements. Statements declare facts about world in
other words they convey information. In declaratives usually subject precedes
the verb. Interrogatives are usually associated with questions. Questions seek
for information on a specific point. Interrogatives are formed either by subjectverb inversion or in the initial position is wh-element, in the latter form there is
a subject-operator inversion. Imperatives correspond to the directive function in
other words with commands. They are primarily used to make somebody to do
something to make the act of hearer. Imperatives do not have transparent
grammatical subject and verb has just based form. Exclamations express the
speaker‘s surprise or impression by something.
Myers wondered in his book what form prevails in the advertising language. He
compared advertising to everyday conversation where full ranges of forms are
used rather than the textbook where the most prominent is statement.


everyday conversation we use more commands, questions, exclamations as
these are more used in the spoken interaction with other people. Also forms of

questions (commands or exclamations) are not always so straightforward.
In the conversation for example a question can function as an indirect
command, so can an exclamation or a statement.
Imperative sentences
Most of the advertising slogans use imperatives or commands; they are used for
the personal effect on the reader or hearer. For the reader they create the
impression that one person is talking to another. The level of politeness is
omitted despite the cultural and interpersonal habit of using words such as
please. It might be also that the polite devices are not used as the advertising
slogans are used for the benefit of hearer or reader. Also ads are not used for
begging someone to do something as it should be hearer free act to purchase or
to consume.
Leech mentioned several verbs that are used in the imperatives. Those
used for the acquisition of the product, such as Try, ask, get, take, let, send
for, use, call, make, come on, hurry, see, give, come, remember, discover,
serve, introduce, choose, and look for.
For examples,
Find Your Own Road-Saab
Get the Feeling-Toyota
Have Fun Out There-Jeep
Those that have something to do with the consumption, such as have, try or
enjoy, e.g. Have Fun Out There-Jeep and the last items he mentioned, those that
call for attention, such as look, see or watch, this one is not really found in the
car industry.
Interrogative sentences

Despite the fact that questions usually require answers and in the advertising
there is no immediate response from the counterpart, interrogative clauses can
be very often seen. Questions help to arouse the curiosity of the customers, they
attract their attention. In advertising they usually work with presuppositions
(Myers 49).
For example,
Have you driven a Ford lately?-Ford
Wouldn‟t you really rather have a Buick?-Buick
Plymouth- isn‟t that the kind of car America wants?-Plymouth
Angela Goddard says about presupposition in advertising: ―Presupposition is all
about reading between the lines, since this is, as it suggest, a hidden process, it
is very interesting to advertisers, as we can taking in all sorts of assumptions
without consciously paying attention to them‖.
According to Myers the exclamations are represented more often in advertising
than any other sentence type. It serves instead of intonation and face expression
in the face to face conversation. Advertising language is playing with people‘s
emotions and feelings. Although exclamations may have the sentence
structure as simple statements when there is an exclamation mark it is
says to audience to read it emphatically.
For example,
And the Plymouth win-you-over beat goes on!-Plymouth
Built Ford tough!-Ford
Now that‟s imagination, that‟s Plymouth!Noun phrases
Leech provides a short explanation about nominal group or noun phrases
in comparison with the rest of the lexical features. ―Complexity in the

nominal group, simplicity elsewhere‖. This is a generalization which can be
confirmed by analysis of practically any piece of advertising copy. If the
first impression on advertisement appears to be linguistically complex,
further investigation usually shows that complexity is limited to nominal group
The fundamentals of noun phrase structure are nouns, determiners and
pronouns. However, there are other constituents common in noun phrase
structures, such as adjectives, adverbs and clauses. In the complex noun
phrase three components are distinguished: the head, the pre-modification
and the post-modification (Greenbaum and Quirk 363).
According to Leech in advertising the most interesting part of the noun
phrases are pre-modification, which usually shows not only complexity but
also unusual structural features. Pre-modification as well as compounding
extend a limited number of nouns in English language. The reason of using premodification in advertising is not only to provide with the information about the
product but also give an attractive description. References to products and
product names are another reason for using pre-modification in advertising.
There are basically four ways of referencing to products, mentioning the
brand name, using the trade name as a means of the identification or a word or a
phrase designating the product name. Leech said: “On the other hand, proper
nouns do occasionally combine with modifiers of non-restrictive force (…). This
type of pre-modifier, which is mainly confined to tems of emotive or evaluative
import commonly, precedes product names in advertising”. In the text was
already mentioned the importance of the pre-modification and its effects
on the complexity, modifying classes that were not part of the previous


should not be omitted are: genitives, comparative and

superlative adjectives and noun modifiers.
animate or personal noun groups.

Genitives are usually used to

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