A STYLISTIC ANALYSIS OF BANK ADVERTISEMENTS IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS
Over the years, the study of language in use has always been an attractive field of study to linguists in the aspect of its origin, nature and its functions, whether for persuasion, poetry, or prayer.
Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication (Wardhaugh, 1972:3).
In the world today, people still continue to research into what language is and its functions. Hence, linguists are in agreement about some of the characteristics of human language, its definition and functions.
The use of language has also become deeply entrenched in human culture and apart from being used to communicate and share information; it also has social uses such as social stratification, social grooming, entertainment and persuasion.
In this research, our focus will be on “the Stylistic Analysis of Bank Advertisements in Selected Nigerian Newspapers”.
1.2 English Language in Nigeria
The English language originates from England. It later spread across the borders of Great Britain and even beyond the continent of Europe to America, Australia, Asia and Africa. It has become so widespread that it is often considered the world language.
The advent of English in Africa cannot be separated from the incursions of trade, missionary and colonial activities. Though, the primary purpose of the missionaries was not to make Christian converts speak English, nevertheless, it was to make the populace literate enough to read the bible in their own languages. Some indigenes were able to learn and use the language after which they became catechists and teachers in the mission schools. The British later colonised Nigeria and of course used their language – English – for administration. It also became more prominent in the educational system and was used for official purposes. It became an elitist symbol used by a few privileged Nigerians who serve as models for some indigenes who sought after education.
The use of English in Nigeria survived the departure of the colonial administrators as the language of governance. Now, after independence, English still survives and assumes a more prominent status in Nigeria. Bamgbose (1971) says it is a medium of social and inter-ethnic communication. It is a national language and it is used as a medium of instructions in schools: primary, secondary and tertiary. He also says that a variant of English tagged Nigerian English has become an inevitable language in the country which has become an invaluable legacy which Britain has bequeathed to Nigeria.
In this vein, the adventure of English language from one culture to another brings about various varieties. The variety of English that performs these functions in Nigeria is not the same as the native speakers’ varieties spoken in Britain or America. For instance, Nigerian pidgin English which has developed much earlier between English traders and Nigerian resident in the coastal areas to cater for the urgent needs of the two linguistic groups for transactional communication became extensively patronised in different versions (Bamgbose, 1995).
Jowitt (1991:191) also opines that the English which is used in the Nigerian environment is something other than a replica of native speakers’ varieties. The evolution of local varieties of English is an illustration of the adaptation of an overseas variety of English to meet the requirements of a second language context. In its use as a medium of both formal and informal communication (Wigwe, 1981).
English language has become therefore an important second language in Nigeria and the rate at which it is accorded importance cannot be over-emphasised. It is an official language, being used to conduct legislative, executive and judicial functions, the principal medium of instruction in Nigeria schools and also the language of journalism.
1.3 The Language of Advertising
Language has a very powerful influence on people and their behaviour. This is especially true in the field of advertising. Advertising is a powerful communication force and a vital marketing tool that helps to sell goods and services, images and ideas. Therefore the choice of language to convey specific messages or ideas with the intention of influencing people is very important. Brown and Yule identify two functions of language; the transactional and interactional which is used to convey factual or preparational information. Hence, language plays an important role in advertising because a breakdown in communication can occur if the speaker and the hearer are not on the same “wave length”.
Visual content and design in advertising have a very great impact on the consumer, but it is language that helps people to identify a product and remember it.
Leech (1966: 25) says that the structure of language in advertising has a peculiar form and many factors predispose the copywriter (i.e. one who writes advertisements) to chose his vocabulary. Hence, the copywriter puts into consideration language variation as regards the target audience and also ensures that his choice of language and content meets the four basic characteristics outlined by Leech (1966: 25) which are necessary for successful advertising. These are:
- Attention value: This refers to the unorthodox use of language to provoke the consumer’s attention and curiosity by presenting something surprising and unexpected.
- Readability: The advertisement must be easy to grasp and assimilate.
- Memorability: An advertisement gains nothing unless the name of the product is remembered. In fact, it is desirable that part of the stylistic message should memorised. This includes brand names, slogans, key phrases, snatches of songs, etc.
- Selling power: One of the most striking features of the language of advertising is an extreme infrequency of imperative clauses aimed at attracting potential buyers to goods and services being advertised.
The language of advertising must be informative, instructive, distinctive, alluring and persuasive (Okpaleke 1992:21). This has been so since the time of oral hawking. Advertisements are to conceive and disseminate information about the product on sale to people in a competitive market.
The language of advertising is also brief and concise. There is no room for unnecessary verbosity because advertisements are expensive and it is a field where the coat has to cut according to the cloth (Okpaleke, 1992).
In addition, the language of advertising entails the use of rhythm. Advertisers use rhythm in order to make an advertisement pleasing to the ears of the customers. David (1987:390) also states that “language of advertisement is generally laudatory, positive and unreserved emphasising the uniqueness of a product.” The use of language in advertising could be subjective and objective. The subjective factor is that the writer’s linguistic competence determines his vocabulary usage, style and creative ability to conform with the stylistic tendencies peculiar to the agency and his consciousness of the advertisers objectives successfully in good write-ups would portray the language use as being objective.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
This project is a Stylistic Analysis of Bank Advertisements in Nigerian Newspapers. The aim of this work will therefore involve the manner in which language is used in Bank advertisement for conveying messages to the public, the effectiveness of the choice of language and the meaning of bank advertisements using stylistic elements.
1.5 Scope of the Study
In carrying out this research, the data which shall be used for analysis shall be limited to fourteen bank advertisements. These bank advertisements shall be from The Guardian, and This Day Newspapers.
1.6 Justification of the Study
The researcher is aware that several works have been carried out on advertisement generally over the years. However, no particular attention has been paid to a stylistic analysis of bank advertisements in Nigerian newspaper.
Therefore, this study shall investigate the area with the hope that it will be beneficial to writers of advertisements in their choice of words, those who might be conducting future research on a related topic and to the students of stylistics.
This work is basically a Stylistic Analysis of Bank advertisements. Therefore, the use of stylistic variables selected from Graphology, phonology, lexis, syntax, and cohesion will be employed in analysing and interpreting bank advertisements.
Fourteen bank advertisements will be data for the stylistic analysis.