On Application of Pun in
Advertisement English——from the Perspective of Pragmatics
Advertising language is the core and soul of advertisement. Pun, as a special language in advertisement—-language trademark, is the key to make successful advertisement. The application of Pun cannot only increase the charm of advertising language, but also creates commercial value and social value. On the basis of conception of cognitive context and combination of specific verbal cases of Advertisement English, the author analyzes the pragmatic value of the theory, thus revealing the framework of Relevance theory having a directive significance to practice. From the essay, the author thinks that it can guide the readers how to understand the connotation of Pun in Advertisement English. Also, it can offer some theoretical foundation for the advertisers in creative advertising. Meanwhile, it can provide some help for the study of this field.
Key Words: Advertisement English; pun; relevance theory; cognitive context
1. Introduction 1
2. Relevance Theory 2
2.1 Relevance 2
2.2 Principle of relevance 2
2.3 Ostensive-inferential communication 3
2.4 Context 3
2.4.1 Cognitive context 3
2.4.2 Features and functions of cognitive context 4
2.5 Contextual Effects 4
3. Pun within the frame of relevance 5
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3.1 Definition of pun 5
3.2 Pragmatic features of pun 5
3.3 Cognitive context in pun 6
4. Pun in Advertisemnt English and its contextual effects 6
4.1 Advertisement English 6
4.2 Pun in Advertisement English 7
4.2.1 Puns with one intended interpretation 7
4.2.2 Puns with rejected interpretation contribuing to the intended one. 8
4.2.3 Puns with two or more intended interpretations 9
4.3 Contextual effects of pun in Advertisement English 10
5. Conclusions 11
The existence and development of Advertisement English has prompted a vast mass of research, among which much attention has been paid to advertising language. With the strong rhetorical and artistic effects, puns are used more and more widely, not only in literary works, but in advertisements and daily dialogues as well. However, in linguistic field, pun does not seem to receive enough attention it deserves. With the development of linguistics, especially the emerge of cognitive pragmatics, more and more researchers have admitted understandability of puns, taking puns more seriously and putting their scholarly efforts in the study of this phenomenon. In the past, many scholars employed Austin’s Speech Act Theory and Grice’s Cooperation principle to explain English puns. But, since Sperber and Wilson put forward relevance theory in 1986, the study of puns’ interpretation has been much more developed based on the relevance theory.
Pun, which has explicit and implicit meanings, plays an important role in the process of understanding the Advertisement English. Puns in Advertisement English helps to retain the readers’ attention longer and makes the advertisement more memorable. The readers also obtain pleasure and satisfaction from working out the puns on the basis of relevance theory, which contributes to their deep impression of the advertisement and the product advertised. Pragmatics, as the theoretical framework, especially, Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory, a developed inferential approach to Pragmatics, attempts to give an explicit account of how our mind enables us to communicate with one another. As a newest theory in Pragmatics, relevance theory combines the achievements in various fields such as contemporary cognitive science, linguistics and behavioral science of human beings and should be applied to human communication, so it is of great importance to associate pun with Relevance Theory in the Advertisement English. In Sperber and Wilson’s book Relevance：Communication and Cognition, they claim that cognitive context leads to whether the communication is successful or not. And He Zaoxiong (2000) also emphasizes the significance of context in the communication.
INTRODUCTION Before examining the topic in depth, I need to briefly recall the characters of the psychological world under study, in order to satisfy the need for a contextual frame. Jean Piaget was born in 1896 in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and died in September 1980 in Geneva. He studied in the Faculty of Science at the University of Neuchatel, where he obtained a Doctorate in Natural Sciences. He ...
Context has been studied by lots of scholars. Contexts of language performance can influence interpretations. And context in pun plays an important role in interpreting pun. The understanding of pun can only be achieved with serious consideration of the context and cognition.
During the interpretation of the pun, the readers should extend their context to pursue the intended interpretation and contextual effects of the advertisement. Since people are exposed to enormous amount of Advertisement English, it is of practical importance to study pun in Advertisement English. It is likely to provide guidance for advertisers on how to use puns in Advertising English more forcefully and efficiently. And it is also helpful for readers to achieve a better understanding of puns in Advertising English and thus enjoy them. It further broadens English learners’ view. What’s more, it can further provide some help to the study of this field. This article is thus intended to give an adequate analysis on context in pun within the framework of Relevance Theory in Advertisement English.
2. Relevance Theory
Since 1980s, cognitive science has been received wide concerns in the frontier of specific subjects. As the development of cognitive science, cognitive linguistics comes into being. During the study of cognitive linguistics, cognitive study of linguistic function, especially in communication, is the major content of contemporary cognitive linguistics, which generates cognitive pragmatics. The theoretical foundation of cognitive pragmatics is relevance theory, which is put forward by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson in 1986. Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory is an important approach to pragmatics. It is a critical development of Grice’s Conversational Implicature. Although it has close connection with the latter, Relevance Theory is by no means simply the extension and revision of Grice’s theory. It has various theoretical resources, combining linguistics, philosophy and communication of human beings. The core of relevance theory is communication and cognition, which are not rule-based or maxim-based. Instead, they are dependent on utterance, context and various implicatures, among which context plays a great role.
Acquiring object permanence: AIM: Piaget wanted to find out at what age children acquire object permanence. METHOD: o Piaget hid a toy under a blanket whilst the child was watching, and observed whether or not the child searched for the hidden toy. o Searching for the hidden toy was evidence of object permanence. o Piaget assumed that that the child could only search for a hidden toy if they had a ...
The notion of “relevance” in Relevance Theory includes double meanings, which can be called double contexts. One refers to the relevance between the new information (the content of the utterance) and the old information (the individual’s representation of the world), and these two kinds of information could deduce another new information having contextual effects. The other refers that people have to seek for the relevance between the new and the old information for getting the final interpretation, when processing the new information.
Relevance theory associates old information with new information together, which is named a contextual implication. They put forward a notion of implicature, equal to the notion of explicature. On Relevance Theory, communication is a purposeful and intentional activity, which involves two kinds of intention: informative and communicative intention. The speaker always shows information in a clear way in order that the hearer can fully understand what the speaker’s intention is. While the hearer should decode the information in the Ostensive-inferential mode in order that they can gain the speaker’s intention.
2.2 Principle of relevance
In 1986, Sperber and Wilson developed a cognitive approach to the interpretation of human communication. In their book Relevance：Communication and Cognition, they claim some new concepts in pragmatic study. It refers that Relevance contains cognitive principle of relevance and communicative principle of relevance.
Technological advancement have improved and eased the communication process. With the world revolving around technology, almost all tasks have been simplified consequently reducing the number of hours that one can perform a certain task. It has helped in the organizing information, thus enabling access and retrieval of information easy. The use of technology has helped many organizations cut on ...
“Sperber and Wilson’s (1995) cognitive principle of relevance: Human cognition tends to be geared to the maximization of relevance.” (Yan Huang, 2007: 183) In order to gain a successful communication, communicators should rely on Relevance Theory. According to Sperber and Wilson, relevance is a purposeful and intentional activity. Listeners can recognize what is speakers’ purpose and intention because they both have reached consensus on the cognitive environment. That’s to say, successful communications depend on communicators’ manifestness of the cognitive environments and the mutual manifestness between communicators.
“On Sperber and Wilson’s view, theories of communication can be roughly divided into two models: (i) the code model and (ii) the inferential model.” (Yan Huang, 2007: 185) However, with the further study, Sperber and Wilson note that inferential communication can be used on its own, while coded communication can be employed only as a means to strengthen inferential communication. In relevance theory, inferential communication is called Ostensive-inferential Communication.
According to the Communicative Principle of Relevance, the addressee could have enough contextual effects after making effective efforts in understanding an utterance; while the cognitive principle of relevance ensures that the addressee could have the biggest contextual effects when she makes the efforts as smallest as possible in understanding an utterance.
2.3 Ostensive-inferential communication
Sperber and Wilson (1995) claim the conception of Ostensive-inferential communication as follows:
“a. The informative intention: an intention to inform an audience of something.
b. The communicative intention: an intention to inform the audience of one’s informative intention.” (Yan Huang, 2007: 186)
Stated in this way, ostension and inference are two sides of the same communication coin. Ostension is related to the speaker, meaning the speaker showing the intention directly. We also call it explicature. The latter means that the hearer should decode the meaning of the speaker through all kinds of stimulus and their own cognitive environment. We also call it implicature.
Communication may involve these two models, but the inferential model is the fundamental in the process of communication. That’s to say, the communication is successful when hearers can infer the speaker’s meaning from the utterance. In other words, the addressee tries to gain enough contextual effects after making effective efforts in understanding an utterance.
Social cognition has its fundamental in social psychology which tries "to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others" . Its subject is the investigation and understanding of an individual within a social or cultural context and makes emphasis on how people comprehend and interpret information ...
2.4.1 Cognitive context
Relevance theory believes that the context is cognitive. “Context is also framed in relevance theory which affects the interpretation of explicature and implication during the communication.” (严辰松、高航，2005: 230) The communicators can gain the implication when they get the implicated premise and implicated conclusion together. “Context is also called contextual assumptions.” (何自然，1996: 123) The process of understanding relies on the context. During the communication, the hearer’s understanding of some utterance bases on selecting the assumptions from the context. As we know, communicators interpretate context through experience and thought. A series of assumptions in cognitive context means “the new information that stimulus builds and the old information which has been handled before or exists in the hearer’s cognitive environment. The relevant information is formed by the association of the new information and the old information.” (何兆熊, 2000: 203) The addressee gains the intention of the addresser on the basis of the interpretation of Relevance Theory, the association and mutual effect between these two kinds of information.
2.4.2 Features and functions of cognitive context
As we know, cognitive context has a strong influence on communication. It is helpful and comprehensive to know the features and functions of cognitive context in the communication. The features of cognitive context include relativeness and gradation. Cognitive context is of relativeness. The interpretation of communication depends on context. The contextual implication produced by proceeding utterance can become the context for the furthermore ones. Sperber and Wilson point out that every context factor (except for the smallest one) includes one or more smaller factors; and every context factor is included in one or more larger context factors (except for the largest one).
The functions of cognitive context contain definitive function, restrictive function and explanatory function. Cognitive context is definitive in the communication. That’s to say, it must be uttered in a certain context which may endow it with a certain meaning. Restrictive function refers to the influence of context on language application. Communicators are inclined to interpret the sentences within the context. As to explanatory function, it combines the situations that the event happens with the co-conditions of surroundings together and offers us a general expression and the prediction of understanding in psychology. “The explanatory function can put abstract meaning into specific meaning and it can surpass the explicit meaning to explain the implicication of utterance.” (何自然, 1996: 149)
What techniques would you use to teach the following? Smooth- Bring in realia example soap bar, hand lotion. To go out on a date- Using pictures illustrating couples on a date night at the movies, fancy restaurants etc. Harmful- Using pictures illustrating a man smoking, or other hazardous liquids that may be ingested by accident. Silverware- Bring in realia and pictures of the silverwares. To ...
Context plays a crucial role in the communication. Because of the features and functions of cognitive context, the importance of cognitive context to utterance can be noticed and the relationship between cognitive context and utterance is much clearer. As we see, cognitive context can be regarded as being part of interpretation of meaning. In other words, meaning is not an invariant; it is context-dependant.
2.5 Contextual Effects
Sperber and Wilson think that in a certain context, the understanding of every utterance is the process of finding relevance. The communicators manage to make the utterance have enough contextual effects in the specific context. According to Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory, relevance is “the association between assumption and a series of context.” (qtd. in 何兆熊，2000：203).
In order to improve a context, the communicators should generate contextual effect. When an input is processed in a context of available assumptions, it may yield some cognitive effect by modifying or reorganizing these assumptions.
During the interpretation of explicature，communicators can achieve the contextual effect by small effort, while the newly-presented information of the implication often has an influence on the hearer’s contextual assumption.
There are three main types of contextual effects to which the processing of new information in a context may give rise:
“The newly-presented information strengthening an existing assumption; the newly-presented information contradicting and cancelling an existing assumption; the newly-presented information and the existing assumption linking together, creating a contextual implication.”（何自然, 1996: 133-134）
According to the views mentioned above, the idea that new or newly presented information is processed in a context of existing assumptions is central to Sperber and Wilson’s definition of relevance. The concept of contextual effects is fundamental to the characterization of relevance. Having some contextual effects is a necessary condition for relevance.
Pun is endowed with implication and conciseness. Pun in Advertisement English is also based on context. Advertisers can only create fetching advertisement on the basis of certain context, while readers can only fully understand the explicit and implicit meanings in the given context.
3. Pun within the frame of relevance
3.1 Definition of pun
There are many kinds of definitions of pun in English. “Pun is an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, or of words that have the same sound but different meanings.” (Summers, 2003:1328).
Also in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Sally Wehmeier （2000: 1027） points out “pun is the clever or humorous use of a word that has more than one meaning, or of words that have different meanings but sound the same.”
According to the definitions mentioned above, pun skillfully employs phonemic or semantic conditions and deliberately makes the utterance bear a double meaning, that is, by saying one thing while meaning the other, one meaning is explicit and the other meaning is implicit. From this, we can see that both definitions emphasize the characteristic and the function of pun. Firstly, pun is to use sound and semantics of a word, a phrase, a sentence or even more than one sentence to make double meanings in the given context of situation, which contains a double context. Secondly, these two meanings share different status—implicit meaning is more important than explicit meaning. Finally, the purpose of pun is to get the effect of aiming at a pigeon and shooting at a crow.
3.2 Pragmatic features of pun
As we know, pun has many features, such as conciseness, and humor. However, the most essential feature of pun is ambiguity and double context. In our daily life, people manage to avoid ambiguity in the communication, while pun attaches much importance to ambiguity. In Advertisement English, any advertisement intends to attract the audience’s attention. The advertisers employ pun to express their intended meaning with literary meaning together.
The other feature of pun is its double context that refers to punning words (explicit meaning) and motivation or intention of using pun (implicit meaning).
According to Lu Shuxiang (2004: 53-54)，“expressive meanings in language are divided into explicit and implicit meanings, which seem to be like a fight, occupying a part and controlling a whole.” Here the implicit meaning means ingenious expression of potential message, referring to the intention and background that lurks behind the exploitation of puns, while the explicit meaning means clear expression of existing message. Explicit and implicit meanings (pun) are often applied to the advertisement to publicize. In the advertisement, true intention (implicit meaning) is covered hiddenly in order to create attractive connotations. What makes pun in Advertising English is a double context—-the coexisting of explicit and implicit contexts.
In sum, pun is full of pragmatic features. Because of that, it needs a pragmatic way to fully analyze it. Relevance Theory, as a powerful explanatory theory, will undoubtedly take this responsibility.
3.3 Cognitive context in pun
Pun contains explicature and implicature, which is the coexistence of double contexts. So pun is context-dependent. And there are two or more meanings in different contexts, which are intentionally triggered by the communicators and often cause multiple interpretations. They often confuse listeners and readers, and become obstacles in their thinking road. However, if they can fully analyze those contexts and the purpose of the addresser (speaker or writer) with the help of the Relevance Theory, they can figure out the intended meanings.
According to Relevance Theory, there are always a series of assumptions of the world in people’s mind. Those are contextual assumptions. When they receive new information from the outside world, which is, in fact, a new context, they tend to compare it with their assumptions. Pun usually plays between two contexts, switching one for the other. The addressees often come to multiple interpretations, but they have to seek for a more acceptable interpretation (implication).
In order to achieve the optimal contextual effect, the communicators should consist the relevance theory with the context.
The theory of cognitive context provides the best framework for analyzing the role of puns in Advertisement English. From the information mentioned above, we know that pun contains double meanings and can lead to ambiguity and double contexts. In order to better understand the application of pun in Advertisement English, cognitive context does great help. And it’s necessary to further do the cases study and its contextual effects within the relevance theory.
4. Pun in Advertisement English and its contextual effects
4.1 Advertisement English
Advertisement English is an important component of social terms, which directly influences people’s daily life and work through various ways. Advertisement English, as a practical English of high commercial value, has its own artistic style and language feature. With the exception of using fewest page and brief language to convey information as much as possible, it should use various kinds of rhetorical device to improve its public appeal and further make readers interested. Such as personification, repetition, rhyme and pun. However, pun is the effective way to create attractiveness. In order to improve “memory value” and “selling power”, pun is widely used in Advertisement English. With humorous language style, it can enhance advertisement’s interest and draws readers’ attention.
The interpretation of any language is to seek the relevance, and the Advertisement English is not an exception. The advertisers use the characteristic of pun in order to offer two meanings or more than two to the readers, which makes the readers, comprehend their intention. The Advertisement English, as a special linguistic communication, is to promote products by providing relevant information for readers.
The advertisers use the characteristic of pun to attract readers’ attention and improve readers’ imagination, which promotes the products finally. The readers finally grasp the advertisers’ intention through thinking and inferring on the basis of common sense and cognitive context. Therefore, the interpretation of Advertising English is the process of seeking relevance. However, during the process of interpretation, pun is implicit and concise. The readers should cost much more effort to get the real meaning.
4.2 Pun in Advertisement English
Sperber and Wilson point out that the success of communication depends on the addressee’s recovery of the addresser’s interpretation. The addresser usually intends to communicate one single interpretation that the addressee has to seek more than one interpretation. From the Relevance Theory point of view, pun is to trigger two or more interpretations by the addresser, but the addressee has to search a more suitable and acceptable interpretation by abandoning the most easily accessible interpretations. Relevance Theory provides the best framework for analyzing the application of pun in Advertisement English. In this article, the author will analyze three ways of interpretation towards English pun in Advertisement English.
4.2.1 Puns with one intended interpretation
Sometimes, two or more interpretations are intentionally activated by the addressee, while the addresser intends to show a single interpretation in a special context. The addressee should reject the most easily accessible interpretation and look for a more acceptable one. In this kind of pun, context plays a crucial role on the understanding of the intention.
Less bread. No jam.
Seeing this ad., people will make lots of association and feel puzzled. Is it the food ad.? No, this is an advertisement with the pun for London Transport.
According to the cognitive context, the pun “bread” and “jam” used here have double contexts: as to the explicit meaning, the “bread” and “jam” means the foodstuffs; as to the implicit meaning, the “bread” in western country also stands for money, while “jam” also represents “transport jam”.
The pun here activates double sets of interpretations, but ultimately it intends to communicate one single set of interpretation. The addresser expects the addressee to achieve the message: “bread” as “money” and “jam” as “traffic jam”. The “food” interpretation is easily intended to be gained first, but then rejected. The application of pun arouses the addressees’ interest and urges them to achieve the contextual effect.
Indeed, the criterion of congruence with the principle of relevance helps the addressee to search for a proper context to recover the potential intended interpretation. If the addressee does further analysis on the basis of the cognitive context, they will be aware of the implicature of the ad. through the knowledge and experience. Finally, they will gain the following interpretation: if you travel by London Transport, you will spend less money and time, and you will not be caught in the traffic jam.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it blossoms at our branches.
On reading the ad., the audience will get the most accessible interpretation of the explicature. That’s tree-branch-blossom context. But the most obvious interpretation has to be rejected as the audience stimulates the Relevance Theory of mind. They will find this is an ad. for Banks. And a newly-presented information will come into their mind. That’s money-flourish-bank context. Finally, they will discover the optimal contextual effect: if you deposit money in Lloyds Banks, your money will continuously increase.
In this case, tree-branch-blossom context is lost after the addressee realizes the certain specific context. They will find that “divisions of tree” is not intended assumptions and is against the actual circumstances. And they will associate the new information (divisions of banks) with the old information (divisions of a tree) and create the most acceptable contextual effects.
I’d moved mountains for her, but today I’ll start with one extraordinary stone.
When reading the ad., the audience tends to process the information about the great deed the man would do for “her”: moving mountains for her. However, when people realize this is an ad. for diamond, they will reject the above interpretation immediately. The audience continues to seek other acceptable interpretation according to the cognitive environment and context. They will further get the new message: I will do all I can do for her (the one I love), so today I will buy her a charming diamond to show my love.
In sum, in this kind of pun, the first obvious context is inconsistent with the criterion of consistency with the principle of relevance. During the process of interpretation, the addressee should reject the most accessible and explicit information to seek and obtain the intended information. And they should associate the second context with the first one and achieve the optimal contextual effect. From the cases mentioned above, we know that the utterance attracts the addressees’ attention and arouses their interest by abandoning the most easily accessible message and searching for the intended assumptions.
4.2.2 Puns with rejected interpretation contributing to the intended one.
Sometimes, the rejected interpretation contributes to the intended one. The implicit meaning of the rejected interpretation can be used in the processing the intended interpretation.
The Self-made woman. She’s living better all the time.
When reading this ad., the addressee will get the initial interpretation. The woman who makes success through her hard work is having a better life. But later the addressee will find that this is not the addresser’s intention—publication of pursuit of women’s independence and equality. In fact, Self-made is an American magazine. According to the cognitive context, the addressee will enlarge the present context and get the further interpretation: the woman who read Self is living a better life.
Combining the theme of Self magazine with the explicature of self-made together, the addressee will achieve the optimal interpretation: reading Self helps woman become mature and successful and the woman who succeeds with the help of Self is living a better life.
Every child should have an Apple after school.
When reading it at the first sight, the addressee will get the obvious meaning: every child should have an apple after school. But with the brand name, the obvious one will be rejected. However, according to the cognitive environment, the apple is good for children’s health. The addressee will associate the brand name with the first interpretation and gain the ultimate contextual effect: every child should have an Apple computer that is good for their study, just as the apple is good for their health.
Today is hot. Tomorrow is chili.
When the addressee reads it, they will firstly find it is an ad. for various weather. But it is nothing to do with the weather, because this is an ad. for Mexican-styled restaurant. Hot here means both weather and food. And chili has the same sound with chilly. Linking with Relevance Theory, the addressee will further discover its optimal contextual effect: the Mexican-styled dish is delicious and various just like the weather. It is very attractive and vivid.
All these examples above can be showed that the communicators can achieve the complete contextual effect with the help of the first rejected interpretation. And the rejected interpretation reinforces the addresser’s intended contextual assumptions in some way.
4.2.3 Puns with two or more intended interpretations
More than one interpretation is triggered by pun in this category, which is intended by the addresser. The two or more interpretations should be combined to reach the ultimate intention of the addresser. It is hard to reject any of them. If doing so, the communicators will lose some information and cannot achieve the optimal contextual effect.
I’m More satisfied.
When the addressee sees it, the addressee will come to the following contextual effects. Is it an ad. for delicious products or comfortable living places? Actually, this is an ad. for More cigarettes. In the dictionary, more is an adverb. It is used to form the comparative of adjectives and adverbs and emphasizes a greater degree. Also, More is also capitalized, indicating that it is used as the brand name of cigarettes. According to the cognitive context, the addressee will achieve the intended contextual effects: The satisfaction the More cigarette gives is higher than that from others. In order to gain the optimal contextual effect the addresser creates, the addressee should link the two interpretations together.
You will go nuts for the nuts you get is Nux.
This is an ad. for nut. It skillfully uses pun to arouse the consumers’ attention. “go nuts” is used to constitute a phase, referring “go crazy”; the second “nut” is its literal meaning; the last one “Nux” has the similar sound with the “nut”. In this ad, only should the addressee combine these three meanings together, they can fully understand what is the intention of the addresser. So it conveys that Nux is very delicious, and, if you buy Nux, you will feel crazy and energetic.
Whenever you shop at Four Square, you’ll like the change.
This is an ad. for Four Square Shop. “Change” here means “the process of replacing something with something new or different”. In other words, the customers can get new goods or products in the shop. “Change” also refers to “the money given back to the customers” in trade and transaction. That’s to say, the customer will spend less money to buy the goods. When people notice the ad., they will infer the first interpretation from it. This shop will supply latest, new and fashionable products and varieties for people. When related trade and transaction, the addressee will extend the context and achieve another interpretation from the cognitive environment. When you shop at Four Square, you will get some money back. The addresser intends to inform the customer the price is reasonable at Four Square. Together with the first interpretation, the addressee will recombine the information they received and gain the ultimate intention: when you shop at Four Square, you will get the latest products and enjoy low price. In this case, both contexts embedded in the pun are meaningful and important. And the relevance of the utterance is achieved by two or multiple sets of assumptions.
In this kind of pun, the addresser makes the utterance that sets a rich network of associations, and the addressee should decode and work out multiple contextual effects. Then finally, the addressee obtains the optimal and intended one by combination of all assumptions.
4.3 Contextual effects of pun in Advertisement English
“Context contains linguistic and non-linguistic context” (赵娟，2009: 88).
“In order to know the communicator’s communicative intention, the audience should seek the relevance between the utterance and context.” (赵智芳, 2007: 96).
That’s to say, “In the advertising language, to understand the meaning of communication is to analyze the combination of utterance and the cognitive context of the information receiver.” (卢淑芳, 2007: 173) From the above views, we know that in the given utterance of given context, pragmatics is to study context to interpretate language. In Advertisement English, advertisers apply pun to attract readers and make them think and do the right choice. Since we know the context contains social environment, mutual expectation and assumption, to interpretate and use language is not only the explicit meaning that an utterance shows, but also the meaning that environment gives. Also, we can say, whether the audience can acquire the implication depends on the comprehension of context.
According to He Ziran (1996), there are three main types of contextual effects to which the processing of new information in a context may give rise. From the cases analysis in 4.2, we can make a conclusion as followings:
From the first three examples, we can know that the existing assumptions contradict the newly-presented information and they should be cancelled in the given context. In cases (1), (2), (3), when readers firstly notice them, they will imagine many contextual assumptions. But, according to cognitive environment and the advertisers’ expectation and intention, they will abandon the first contextual assumptions and finally achieve the optimal contextual effects. In this type, the advertiser employs abnormality to arouse the addressees’ curiosity. And the addressee will get intellectual satisfaction or enjoyments during the interpretation.
From cases (4), (5), (6), we learn that the newly-presented information strengthens the existing assumptions. In order to get the intended contextual effects, the addressee should analyze the advertisement with the help of the first assumptions. In this type, the first contexts reinforce the intended interpretations. During the interpretation, the addressee will feel content and the advertised products will make deep impression in their mind.
From the last three instances, we find out the newly-presented information should link with the existing assumptions together. In this type, the addressee should try their best to seek the advertisers’’ intention through their cognitive environment. During the interpretation, the addressee should associate the existing assumptions with the newly presented information in the given context. They should stimulate the cognitive environment; the assumptions and advertisers’ expectation together to addressee achieve the real contextual effects. In this type, the advertiser chooses pun to draw the consumer’s attention, and makes the readers indulge in the creative role.
In sum, pun in Advertisement English has double contexts, including internal context (explication) and external context (implication).
The internal context is related to the literal meaning; however, the external meaning is related to the depth of advertisement, which symbolizes the advertisers’ intention. The audience chooses, extends and adjusts the cognitive context to achieve the optical context according to the given information the advertisement offers. In Sperber and Wilson’s view, the process of working and settling this information is the cognitive process of relying on the cognitive context to conduct the contextual assumption. In conclusion, the degree of relevance between the advertising utterance and context plays crucial role in the contextual effect. In Advertisement English, the application of pun cannot only transmit the advertiser’s thinking and views, but also shows the potential consumers’ information. The advertisers create the fascinating advertisement and the audience achieve the information as possible as they can, thus promoting products and creating the commercial and social value.
During the course of writing this article, a variety of issues concerning pun in Advertisement English has been studied. Based on the previous description and analysis, this article can be concluded as follows.
In the beginning, this article introduces the background, the reason of choosing the topic and the purpose of writing this article. Since relevance theory plays a great part in communication, the article sets forth the foundations of relevance theory. According to Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theory, the article introduces the major contents of relevance theory. It reviews the basics of relevance theory. In order to put pun into use, an acquaintance of its characteristics is a must. The article states the definition, pragmatic features and context within the frame of relevance. On the basis of the theory mentioned above, cases analysis is necessary. In this article, the author analyzes three ways of interpretation towards English puns in Advertisement English in detail. With specific analysis, the author concludes its contextual effects finally.
This article proves that Relevance Theory is really a powerful explanatory tool for analyzing context in pun. Although the context in pun is very complex and difficult to grasp, it is pictured well within Relevance Theory. It is also inferred that Relevance Theory can be an excellent tool to explain other pragmatic phenomena.
Since Advertisement English is closely related to our daily life and pun in Advertisement English is a common phenomenon. It is practical to study the application of pun in Advertisement English within the frame of relevance theory. The purpose of this article is aimed at making the communicators( advertiser and audience) better understand each other and further creating the enormous social and commercial value, and at the same time, it can broaden the language-learners’ view and master a certain pragmatic skills. And I hope this article will be a little helpful in the study of English language.
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