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Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts Miss Takoua Becha Academic Year: 2010 / 2011 Second Semester Groups: LF 2+5+6 Reading 1: What is an advertisement? Advertising is so familiar to modern readers that it may seem odd to ask what an advertisement is. Although advertising is all around us – perhaps because it is all around us – we don’t often pause to think about its nature as a form of discourse, as a system of language use whereby, on a daily basis, huge numbers of readers have fleeting 1 ‘conversations’ with the writers of countless texts. We all recognize the type of advertising text that occurs in newspapers and magazines, where a product is being presented as desirable for us to buy; we also know the TV version of this, placed between the programmes on certain channels. The word ‘text’ here is used in its widest sense, including visual artifacts as well as verbal language. Classifying texts in this way is more complex than it may seem at first glance, because as soon as we try to arrive at a satisfactory system we bring into play important ideas about the role texts perform in particular contexts – in other words, about how they appear and are used. Another complication is the fact that texts don’t always fall neatly into categories according to purpose. Texts are hardly ever simply ‘informative’ or ‘persuasive’, for example. Information texts, such as university prospectuses 2 , always have an individual or corporate 3 perspective behind them; persuasive texts, such as political manifestos 4 or film trailers 5 , often do their job by the way they present information. At the root of the word ‘advertisement’ is the Latin verb ‘advertere’, meaning ‘to turn towards’. While it is undoubtedly true that adverts are texts that do their best to get our attention, to make us turn towards them, we wouldn’t want to say that everything we pay attention to is an advert. For example, road signs such as the ‘speed limit’ one on the list above try to get our attention as an essential part of their function, but we don’t perceive them as advertising anything. Often, though, our classifications are more a question of degree than of absolutes. For example, clothing in its broadest sense can be seen as advertising ideas about the wearer, but manufacturers’ labels on our clothing are a very direct strategy for them to get themselves some free
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This note was uploaded on 01/24/2012 for the course CS 1205 taught by Professor Takoua during the Spring '11 term at Cardiff University.

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