A Pragmatic Analysis of Puns In Advertising
The usage of Puns in advertising is an intensively discussed topic in the study of pragmatics as well as in other aspects of linguistics, in which there has appeared a large quantity of researches and discussions, and in which literal factors are highly involved and consequentially cognitive consideration is seldom taken into account. Based on Relevance Theory, this thesis employs many examples to explore some characteristics peculiar to puns and their functions in advertising within the framework of pragmatics and intends to answer these two questions: 1. Why does the advertiser prefer puns in advertising? 2. How do puns in advertising possibly lead to the effective communication?
CONTENTS Abstract………………………………………………………………… 2 1 INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………… 4 1.1 Aim of Research……………………………………………… 4 1.2 Research Methodology……………………………………… 4 1.3 Framework of the Thesis…………………………………… 5 2 THEORETICAL FOUNDATION RELEVANCE THEORY………. 6 2.1 Sperber and Wilson’s Account of Communication…………… 6 2.2 Definition of Relevance……………………………………… 7 3 ADVERTISING AS COMMUNICATION………………………… 8 3.1 Advertising as Ostensive Communication…………………… 8 3.2 The Importance of Relevance in Advertising 10 Communication………………………………………………………… 4 PUNS IN ADVERTISING………………………………………… 10 4.1 Definition of Pun…………………………………………… 11 4.2 Classification of the Pun……………………………………… 11 4.3 Pun vs. Ambiguity…………………………………………… 13 4.4 Pun and Relevance…………………………………………… 14 4.5 Interpretation of Puns in Advertising………………………… 15 4.6 Functions of Puns in Advertising…………………………… 19 5 CONCLUDING REMARKS………………………………………… 25 5.1 Contribution of the Study…………………………………… 25 5.2 Limitation of the Study……………………………………… 26 5.3 Suggestions for Further Study……………………………… 27 BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………… 28 1 ABSTRACT The usage of Puns in advertising is an intensively discussed topic in the study of pragmatics as well as in other aspects of linguistics, in which there has appeared a large quantity of researches and discussions, and in which literal factors are highly involved and consequentially cognitive consideration is seldom taken into account. Based on Relevance Theory, this thesis employs many examples to explore some characteristics peculiar to puns and their functions in advertising within the framework of pragmatics and intends to answer these two questions: 1. Why does the advertiser prefer puns in advertising? 2. How do puns in advertising possibly lead to the effective communication? Relevance Theory, which can help the addressee to discover the addresser’s intention, is applied to solving the questions. The principle of relevance is adopted to examine how the addressee achieves optimal relevance from puns in advertising, as well as to successfully comprehend the intentions implicated by the addresser. Furthermore, this thesis explained the equilibrium of contextual effect and processing effort during the inferential procedure, in order to give a more convincing explanation of the pragmatic functions performed by puns in advertising. The rhetorical role plus the cognitive manipulating capacity can make some fresh clues for the exploratory work of puns in advertising, which challenges any single previous aspects of advertising language. Key words: pun, advertising, optimal relevance, effective communication 2 A Pragmatic Analysis of Puns In Advertising 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Aim of Research The author hopes that this thesis will provide some guidelines for advertisers on how to employ puns in advertising more forcefully, as well as help addressees to achieve a better understanding of puns in advertising. Firstly, selected approaches to puns in advertising are assessed and Relevance Theory is put forward to analyzing puns in advertising communication, which is geared to a large target addressee. Secondly, important principles and notions of Relevance Theory are objects demanding acquisition, because the utterance comprehension needs an interpretation procedure of optimal relevance achievement and effective communication needs equilibrium about effort and effect. They are proposed originally by Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995) in the framework of Relevance Theory. Thirdly, after elaborating Relevance Theory, the thesis means to make a systematic analysis of advertising as ostensive communication and indicate an effective advertising communication depends on the recovery of the advertiser’s persuading intentions which are elaborated implicated in puns by the addressee. Then the task of the addresser and the addressee in advertising communication is pointed out, as well as the interpretation procedure. Finally, the thesis does not stop at the level in comprehension, but taking into account the processing effort involved in the interpretation procedure. It aims to help the advertisers to produce more effective advertisements. 1.2 Research Methodology According to whether or not the sponsor has a purpose to seek profits, advertising can be classified into commercial and non-commercial advertising. 3 Commercial advertising is the most frequent type of advertisements, the type on which most money and skill is spent, and the type which affects us most deeply (Vestergaard and Schroder 1985，P.1). The advertising I talked about in this thesis is especially concentrated on commercial advertising. This thesis pays more attention to printed advertisements rather than TV advertisements. There are two reasons for this: first, a TV advertisement extends in time and makes use of the combined effect of sound and moving picture, it is only possible to give a very incomplete reproduction of it in the thesis, whereas a printed advertisement can be reproduced as a whole; second, newspapers and magazines still get more profit than any other medium from advertising. In this thesis, theoretical analysis and case studies will be adopted as the major research method. The data used for my study in this thesis are first-hand advertisements, coming from a variety of sources, such as China Daily, Shanghai Star, Beijing Review, 21st Century, , San Lian Life Week, Cosmopolitan, Du Zhe Xin Shang, Elle, Digital World, and so on. 1.3 Framework of the Thesis The thesis consists of six parts, namely, introduction, literature review, theoretical foundation, advertising as communication, puns in advertising, and conclusion. Chapter One is the introduction of the thesis, which presents the aim and target of the research, the research methodology, and the framework of the thesis. Chapter Two introduces the framework of Relevance Theory. It does not present a book-thick demonstration of the whole Relevance Theory, which covers the whole field of verbal communication. Instead, it concerns some notions and principle to relevance and verbal-communication. Then this chapter launches a criterion of consistency and further points out the comprehension strategy— a relevance-theoretic approach to understanding utterances. In fact this chapter is the theoretic basis of the proceeding study. Chapter Three presents the characteristics of advertising as communication. 4 Based on the discussion of functions and the procedure of advertising, the relationship between advertising and ostensive communication is analyzed in order to confirm that Relevance Theory is applicable to explaining the force of advertising language. Then Relevance Theory is employed to exploring an effective advertising communication. Chapter Four reveals how the addressee achieves optimal relevance from puns in advertising through case studies. This chapter first examines basic features of puns and then the procedure of deriving intended interpretation is discussed. In addition, this chapter accounts for that through interpreting puns, the extra processing effort and additional contextual effects could be offset. It helps to argue why puns could lead the addressee to looking at products from a new light, why puns could direct the focus of the addressee to the peculiar sides of the product advertised and why puns could draw the addressee’s attention and sustain it. Chapter Five is the conclusion, which summarizes the theoretic achievements of the thesis, the limitations of the present study, and the suggestions for further studies. 2 THEORETICAL FOUNDATION RELEVANCE THEORY In Relevance: Communication and cognition (1986/1995), Sperber and Wilson developed a communicative theory from a psychological and cognitive point of view, aiming to “identify underlying mechanisms rooted in human psychology, which explain how humans communicate with one another” (Sperber and Wilson 1986, P.32). It holds that the guiding principle in the cognitive process of communication is the search for an interpretation consistent with the principle of relevance and the principle of relevance is essential to the explaining of human communication. In this chapter, some concepts which will be utilized in the later analysis of punning of advertising language will be briefly introduced. And then, a simple framework of relevance theoretic approach will be presented. 2.1 Sperber and Wilson’s Account of Communication According to Sperber and Wilson (1995, P.2), it is thoughts which are communicated. By thoughts, they mean mental representation, which addressees are 5 capable of entertaining and believing. In other words, thoughts take the form of sets of assumptions. The ultimate goal of communication is to alter the addressee’s thoughts, and that is why he engages in communication. Sperber and Wilson’s analysis focuses on the form of communication, which they call ostensive-inferential (Sperber and Wilson 1986, P.63). According to Sperber and Wilson, there are two models of communication: the code model and the inferential model. Communication may involve these two models, but inference is most fundamental in the process of communication. In order to succeed in communication, the addresser must attract the addressee’s attention to the fact that she has something to inform, which is technically known as ostentation. In the process of communication, the addresser is someone involved in ostentation, showing or making manifest her informative intension, and the addressee is the one involved in inference, inferring from the evidence presented the addresser’s intension. 2.2 Definition of Relevance Relevance, according to Sperber and Wilson, is the key to human cognition, and the search for relevance is a basic feature of human cognition. This concept suggests that an addressee will make an effort to process a communication if he thinks it to be relevant in a particular situation, in other words to alter or enrich his cognitive environment. On the relevance-theoretic account, information is relevant to an individual when it interacts with some context of assumptions that are available to the individual to achieve certain contextual effect. Contextual effects are of three types: 1) strengthening an existing assumption; 2) contradicting or eliminating an existing assumption; and 3) combining with an existing assumption to yield a contextual implication. There may be others: improvements in memory of imagination (Sperber and Wilson 2000). These can be seen as effects only because they contribute indirectly to improvement in cognitive environment. There is another factor to be taken into account in assessing degrees of relevance, 6 i.e., processing effort. Contextual effects are achieved via mental process, which demands processing effort. The greater the effort needed to derive contextual effects, the lower the relevance will be. In brief, the degree of relevance depends on two factors: 1) contextual effects and 2) processing effort. This provides a comparative definition of relevance: Relevance Other things being equal, the more the cognitive effects achieved in an individual by processing an utterance, the greater the relevance of the utterance to the individual. Other things being equal, the less the processing effort involved in the acquisition of the same amount of cognitive effects, the greater the relevance of that utterance to the individual. 3 ADVERTISING AS COMMUNICATION In the former chapters, we have argued that Relevance Theory provides the most satisfactory analysis of verbal communication between the addresser and the addressee. This chapter aims at exploring communicating environment in advertising with the help of Relevance Theory. 3.1 Advertising as Ostensive Communication Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory is developed on the basis of the analysis of ostensive-inferential communication. It points out that the principle of relevance does not apply to all forms of communication, bur only to ostensive communication. Therefore, if we want to analyze puns in advertising from the point of view of Relevance Theory, we have to make it clear whether advertising is a kind of ostensive communication, that is, whether Relevance Theory is applicable to the explanation of advertisements. In order to discuss what kind of communication the advertising is, a reconsideration of the features of advertising is presented in the following. 3.1.1 Definition and Function of Advertising The definition of advertising may vary from angles and purposes. The English 7 word “advertise” derives from a Latin word “advertere”, which means, “to inform somebody” or “to bring something into notice”. Its Chinese equivalent term “广告” means “ 广而告之”(guang gao, advertising). The Encyclopedia Britannica defines advertising as follows: “The techniques and practices used to bring products, services, opinions or causes to public notice for the purpose of persuading the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised.” In the Chinese authoritative tool book 《辞海》(sea of words), “advertising” refers to “ 广告是向公众介绍商品、报道服务内容和文娱节目等的一种宣传方式” ( a means of propaganda to introduce products, services and entertainment programs to the public). Crystal and Davy (1983, P.272) state that there are two main functions of advertising: informing and persuading. However, these two functions are not of equal importance, in that information is subordinated to persuasion (Packard 1981). 3.1.2 Task for the Addresser in Advertising Communication The addresser in advertising communication must avoid the following circumstances: If the advertisement is being too outspoken or too plain without leaving room for the addressee’s imagination, the addressee can save some processing effort, but the contextual effect obtained will not be satisfactory. The addressee will forget the advertisement very soon or take no notice of it at all, which is obviously against the aim of the advertiser. If the advertisement is made to contain implicatures too hard to be inferred, the addressee may be unwilling to make processing effort to deal with them and thus no expected effect will be achieved. 3.1.3 Task for the Addressee in Advertising Communication The task of the addressee in an ostensive communication is to process the addresser’s utterance against background information and derive an intended interpretation which is consistent with the principle of relevance. In other words, the task for addressee is a procedure of achieving the optimal relevance. In order to 8 achieve the optimal relevance, the addressee should make the processing efforts to: Get a presumption derived from his memory Construct a presumption by developing assumption schemata retrieved from his memory. Deduce a presumption from the explicatures of the utterance and the context. 3.2 The Importance of Relevance in Advertising Communication Relevance Theory is a linguistic and cognitive one that stresses the importance to the communication process of the context, inference and disposition of the addressee. The conditions of relevance that advertising has to recognize, and then exploit, are specific to advertising. The relevance of advertisements, in general, not only determines how advertisements are written but also is an indispensable part of how addressees interpret them. For advertisers, writing is only half the battle; knowing whom they are writing for, and what the context is so that it will be interpreted, are the real keys. The real production of advertiser is the understanding from addressees, not just how they think of products, but, even more crucially, what they think of advertising. Since the ultimate goal of advertising is to persuade people to buy the product or service, advertisements should be presented with a type of language that is persuasive in nature, aiming at triggering a special response from the consumers. The addresser has to provide a stimulus to activate certain assumptions from the cognitive environment of the addressee. In other words, advertising has to achieve relevance. 4 PUNS IN ADVERTISING There are some assumptions which an addresser has to hold about the addressee in advertising. First, an addresser never takes it for granted that addressee has a high level of attention. So she usually employs a variety of devices to solve this problem. Second, she should treat her addressee as potentially creative and resourceful. Only in this way, can an advertisement attract and retain addressee’s attention. Relevance Theory helps to define a possible point of equilibrium between effort 9 and effect. A creative equilibrium can be attained at the point of optimal relevance in poetic language, where maximum yield of contextual implication is achieved with an acceptable amount of an effort. Just as Sperber and Wilson (1987, PP.18-19) emphasize that “by demanding extra processing effort… the speaker can encourage the addressee to look for additional contextual effects in the form of additional weak or strong implicatures.” In this chapter, characteristics of puns will be examined in order to expose its functions in promoting an effective communication in advertising. Some cases coming from the latest printed resource will be analyzed, with the help of principles of Relevance Theory mentioned in Chapter Three. 4.1 Definition of Pun The Webster’s Third International Dictionary (1961) defines pun as “a humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest different meaning or applications, or of words having the same or nearly the same sound but different meanings: a play on words”. In Collins English Language Dictionary, pun is defined as “a use of words that have more than one meaning, or words that have the same sound but different meanings, so that what you say has two different meanings and makes people laugh”. According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the definition of pun is “an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, or words with the same sound but different meanings”. In short, a pun is a smart use of a word or phrase which can imply more than one meaning, particularly meanings from the same sound with humorous effect. This definition will be used throughout the whole thesis. 4.2 Classification of the Pun Traditionally, pun is created by two ways: one is by means of homonym; the other is by homophones, as explained below: Homonyms: Those that are written in the same way but meanings are different. Homophones: Those that sound alike but meanings are different. 10 Homonyms and homophones can not only be single words, but also be whole phrases even sentences. And “similarities between words and phrases do not have to be absolute to have the ambiguous effect of a pun” (Nash 1985, PP.137-47). 4.2.1 Puns from Homonyms in Advertising In order to make an illustration to how homonyms are used in advertising to achieve punning effect, the following are presented with a number of examples. (1) Face the world. (Boots Cosmetics) (2) I’m More satisfied, ask for More. (More Cigarette) (3) Take a break with Time. (Time Magazine) (4) Be Sharp. (Sharp AQUOSLCD) (5) Everything will be new in this Century. (BUICK CENTURY Car) (6) I will walk a mile for a Camel. (Camel Cigarettes) (7) Spring to Life. (Dannon spring water) (8) The Unique Spirit of Canada: We bottled it. (Canada alcohol) The above examples gives us a picture that the punning effect is often centered on the brand name of the products, since this is one of the main purposes of an advertisement. 4.2.2 Puns from Homophones in Advertising In English, many homophones are used to create puns in order to highlight the advertised products service. For instance: (9) Because Sony Knows Beta. (Sony Beta Video Tape) 11 “Beta” is the homophone of “better” (10) Make you every hello and good buy. (Airport Duty-free Shop) “good buy” is the homophone of “good bye” (11) With so many carrots, I’ll be a real gem! (Carrot Cake of Bettey Food Company) “carrot” is the homophone of “carat” (12) Trust us. Over 5000 ears of experience. ( Keynes hearing aids) “ears” is the homophone of “years” (13) Keds every wear. (Keds wear) “every wear” is the homophone of “everywhere” (14) More sun and air for your son and heir. ( Jeoin bathing beach) “sun” is the homophone of “son” and “air” is the homophone of “heir” A common phenomenon of advertising in Chinese is that characters, idioms, or four-character set phrases are frequently used. Moreover, it often happens that one or more word of a set phrase is substituted by another word with the same pronunciation. This is the typical kinds of homophone used to create puns. 4.3 Pun vs. Ambiguity Sperber & Wilson (1986, P.23) points out that the success of communication does not merely depend on the recognition of its linguistic meaning, but also depend on the addressee’s recovery of the speaker’s intended interpretation. So communication can succeed when there is more than one possible interpretation of the utterance, as long as the addresser’s intended interpretation is recoverable. The addresser usually intends to communicate a single interpretation that the addressee is able to recover, though two or more interpretations are simultaneously achieved. Occasionally several interpretations have to be combined to reach the 12 ultimate message. When two or more than two meanings are to be intended, they are likely to reinforce one another. It seems that puns sometimes leads to ambiguity because several meanings can be possibly derived. In fact, several interpretations usually do not lead to ambiguity. In most case, only one interpretation intends to be retained, and it is made mutually manifest that other interpretations are to be rejected. If the ambiguity does occur, the intended interpretation can be resolved so long as the addresser has chosen the appropriate context for the utterance. Sperber & Wilson propose a much more dynamic view of context. A context is the set of assumptions brought to bear in arriving at the intended interpretation. It is a psychological construct, a subset of the addressee’s assumption about the world, which has to be established and developed in the course of interaction in order to select the correct interpretation. The determination of the context is seen as a matter of choice as part of the interpretation process itself. For all addressers there is an initial context, which can be extended in different directions. Extension of the context can be achieved in three ways according to Relevance: Communication and Cognition (Sperber & Wilson 1986): 1) strengthening an existing assumption; 2) contradicting or eliminating an existing assumption; and 3) combining with an existing assumption to yield a contextual implication. 4.4 Pun and Relevance I have mentioned that the degree of relevance lies in the equilibrium of effort and effect. The greater amount of processing effort is from the addressee, the less relevant it is, and the greater contextual effects she receives, the larger relevant the utterance is. However, in some cases, e.g., in the cases of pun and metaphor, the extra processing effort and additional contextual effects could be offset. Puns in advertising are usually indirect, which do require more processing effort from the addressee than direct ones. However, by employing puns, it offsets the effort an addressee has to make during the process of interpreting. The addressee will get a kind of intellectual pleasure after he 13 has interpreted the puns, because it is he who has discovered what the addresser intends to convey. Their efforts are greatly rewarded by the extra contextual effects. This is the reason why puns may possibly lead to effective advertising communication. When the addressee interprets puns, he automatically aims at optimal relevance. In order to achieve optimal relevance, the addressee will pick out from whatever sources or contexts in which to process the puns. Therefore, his expectation of optimal relevance is a crucial pragmatic factor. The addresser deliberately exploits pun’s characteristics to provide the addressee with two or more layers of meanings, whereas the latter who aims at optimal relevance will eliminate the surface structure meaning and grasp the deep structure meaning, thus leading to effective communication. Once the addressee comprehends the addresser’s intention, he will find that the product or service is of benefit to him. Meanwhile, understanding messages non-literally gives the addressee the pleasure of exercising her cognitive competence which could offset his extra processing effort in the inferential procedure. 4.5 Interpretation of Puns in Advertising 4.5.1 Interpretation Procedure Two or more interpretations are intentionally triggered by the addresser, but the addressee searches for the one which has optimal relevance to the intended. From the relevance theoretic point of view, the process of interpreting punning in the utterance is as follows: Addressee will have a most accessible interpretation first, but this interpretation would be soon rejected for it is inconsistent with the principle of relevance. After rejecting the first interpretation, the addressee will extend his cognitive context. The extending of the context can be achieved in three ways according to Relevance: Communication and Cognition (Sperber & Wilson 1986): 1) It can be made by “going back in time” and adding to the assumptions used or derived in previous deductive processed. 2) To add to the context about the immediately observable environmental information. All the information will be retained in specialized short-term perceptual 14 memory. 3) To add to the context the encyclopedic entries of concepts already present either in the context or in the assumption will be processed. They are in long-term memory. Further contextual effect should arise with the extending of the context. At the same time, the extra processing effort is required. Processing the pun again in the extended context, the addressee should then achieve the optimal relevance of the intended interpretation. Sometimes, the steps will be repeated, until the optimal relevance is derived. Because sometimes, only one interpretation is intended in the implicature by addresser, however, sometimes, there are more than one intended. These phenomena will be discussed in the following section. Next, I would like to confirm the concept above through studying specific cases. All these cases are puns obtained from the latest printed advertisements. 4.5.2 Interpretations Triggered and Interpretation Intended 22.214.171.124 Puns with Initial Interpretation Being Rejected This is a kind of puns whose initial interpretation has nothing to do with the product or service advertised and has to be rejected in favor of another interpretation, which is the one intended by the addresser. (15) Don’t let a period stop you. (Kotex Ultrathin towel) On reading the words “period” and “stop”, the addressee will probably take the word “period” to mean “full stop”. This would be the most accessible interpretation, as “period” here is used together with “stop”. But such interpretation will have to be rejected, as it is inconsistent with the principle of relevance, for the headline advertises towel. Having put aside the first interpretation coming to mind, the addressee would hopefully remember that “period” also means “menstruation”. She would then recover the following propositional form: (16) Don’t let the menstruation stop you. Then together with the body copy of the advertisement, the addressee would 15 derive the following conclusion: (17) With Kotex Ultrathin towel, the menstruation won’t get in way; you will be free to do everything you can do in normal ways. The pun activates two interpretations, but ultimately communicates the latter interpretations. The single interpretation that the addresser intends her addressee to retain is “period” as “menstruation”. Interpretation of “full stop” is may be accessed first, but then rejected. The addresser does not endorse it, for it is irrelevant to the product promoted by the advertisement. That is why the addressee continues to search for the second interpretation. 126.96.36.199 Rejected Interpretation as Access to the Ultimate In some cases of puns, rejected interpretations usually contribute to the intended interpretation. That is, they provide access to encyclopedic information, which is then used in processing the intended interpretation. Of course, this contributes additional contextual effects to the interpretation that the addresser ultimately intends to transfer to her addressee. (18) 补救过去，改善现在， 主宰光彩未来！ The past remedied. The present improved. The future perfect! (Estee Lauder Future Perfect Anti-Winkle Radiance Cream) In the illustration of this advertisement, there are three ladies with expecting eyes. Together with the headline, the addressee would first have the following presumption: (19) Upgrade your life and have a more satisfied future. Woman should be confident to control her own destiny. It is just like some proverbs or epigram connected with one’s working experiences. However, this comprehension will be rejected by the addressee, as inconsistent with the fact that it is an advertisement for a cosmetic. Having rejected the first interpretation coming to mind and aided by the fact that it is an anti-wrinkle product, the addressee will recover the following: (20) Estee Lauder Future Perfect Anti-Winkle Radiance Cream helps reduce the look of winkles. Radiance returns. Skin is significantly developed. Although the addressee of (18) has to reject the first accessible interpretation (19) 16 for the intended one, the rejected interpretation hints some contextual effects. It triggers the recovery of some encyclopedic knowledge about women, confidence and their destiny. In modern society, more and more women are independent; they are capable of controlling their own destiny in various fields of society. The association between confidence and an anti-aged product may be added to the context in which the headline is finally processed, resulting in (21): (21). Estee Lauder Future Perfect Anti-Winkle Radiance Cream can make you look absolutely radiant. You will be more confident in your daily life and make a better life in future. Thus, (18) triggers the interpretation (19) which is later rejected for the intended one. However, when (19) processed against the context containing the winkle problem, (19) yield extra-intended contextual effects such as (21). The advantage of puns to the addresser is that the association between “anti-winkle” and “confident” can yield information to be added to the context in which the advertisement is finally processed, as extra-implicated assumptions. By using puns, the additional contextual effects serve to enhance the desired image of Estee Lander as a precious instrument of sustaining youth, which is every woman’s dream. In this way, a congenial relationship has been settled between image of Estee Lauder and the addressee. 188.8.131.52 Puns with Two Intended Interpretations Some puns do not just communicate one interpretation while activating another. Instead, they, more often than not, may communicate two meanings. The following headline for a Mazda car serves as a typical example: (22) The perfect car for a long drive. (Mazda car) The interpretation would yield a number of contextual effects, which include (23) and (24): (23) The car is perfect for people who have to go on long car rides. (24) The car functions well on a long drive. However, “drive” can also mean “driveway” and the picture of a long driveway might encourage an alternative interpretation: 17 (25) The perfect car for people who have a long driveway. The illustration also shows a large mansion to which the driveway leads, and this would encourage the addressee to extend his search for assumptions about life style. He might well derive further contextual effects, such as (26) and (27): (26) The car is perfect for people who have a long driveway and a large mansion. (27) The car is perfect for people who prefer comfortable-style cars. Thus, the headline communicates both interpretations (26) and (27). They both yield substantial contextual effects, and it is not clear to the addressee which interpretation is intended by the communicator. There is no good reason to reject either interpretation as irrelevant, but they both seem insufficient or incomplete on their own. In this case, the two interpretations together yield adequate contextual effects for no unjustifiable processing effort, and are thus consistent with the principle of relevance. The addresser intends to her addressee to process and retain both interpretations, together with their effects. Furthermore, despite the independence of the two interpretations, they can combine with the additional premise, as in (28): (28) People who have a long driveway are the sort of people who drive long distances. In short, the possibility that a pun may genuinely communicate “two meanings for the price of one” would arise from where neither of the two interpretations is sufficient on its own. In this case, it may also arise from where the two jointly yield effects for no unjustifiable effort in a way the addresser could manifestly have foreseen. 4.6 Functions of Puns in Advertising Puns are prevalent in both English and Chinese advertisements. It is assumed that puns are used pragmatically in advertisements with a multiplicity of functions. On the basis of data collected from written printed advertisement, the present study concludes that puns have the following pragmatic functions that are to be illustrated respectively. 18 4.6.1 Entertain the Addressee and Achieve the Eye-catching Effect The first reason why the advertiser prefers puns is that they attract the addressee’s attention. Attracting attention is the first and most important requirement for the advertisement. If an addressee is interested in reading an advertisement, then it means that the advertiser gets a better opportunity to influence the addressee to buy her product. By employing puns, addressers deliberately cause their addressee extra processing effort, because the first and the most important requirement of an advertisement is that is should attract and hold an addressee’s attention. (Dyer 1982, P.139) Puns attract addressee’s attention because they can frustrate initial expressing of relevance and create a sense of surprise. In other words, with such a surprise, they can arouse an addressee’s interest by making them thinking, “What on earth does that mean?” The purpose is not to convey a novel idea, for there are few new things to say about many products. By offering an amusing pun, the advertiser provides her addressee with the desired entertainment, and thus makes the addressee feel congenial towards the product which she is promoting. The example below will show how puns used in advertisements succeed in attracting attention. (29) 谁能惩治腐败？ （新飞冰箱） This advertisement could easily catch the addressees’ attention because it seems to be concerned with a heatedly discussed topic in China. The first interpretation like the following should be recovered: (30) Who can oppose and control corruption? This will be the most accessible interpretation but such interpretation will have to be rejected as inconsistent with the first principle of relevance, for the caption advertises Xinfei refrigerators. Having put aside the first interpretation to come to mind, the addressee will hopefully recover the following propositional form: (31) Who can stop food from becoming rotten? 19 From the example above, it is not difficult to find that puns in advertising have a greater capability of evoking the audience’s attention. In this advertisement, the addressee has to expend considerable extra processing effort in order to recover the intended ultimate meaning. The advertiser could directly have used the utterance “谁 能防止食物腐烂变质?”, but he must have been aware that this utterance would probably be too boring to arouse the addressee’s interesting. 4.6.2 Improve the Relationship Punning can help the addresser improve the relations with her addressee. Since the lack of trust between the addresser and addressee creates some problems, as was noted by Keiko Tanaka “the lack of trust and social cooperation between communicator and addressee creates sales problem for the addresser” (Keiko Tanaka 1995:37), the addresser must attempt to diminish the distrust and maintain a sound relationship between the addresser and the addressee. Punning, as a rhetorical device, can be used as an effective strategy to draw the addressee. It is suggested that the addressee may release his self-protection when he feel congenial towards the utterance elaborated by the addresser. (32) 五一放大“价” (33) 有“礼”说不清 （苏宁电器超市） In this advertisement, “价” (price) is the homophone of “假” (holiday) and “礼” (gift) is the homophone of “理” (reasonable). The original interpretations of (34) and (35) are: (34). People enjoy a long-period holiday from May 1st to May 7th, which is called the Golden Week in May. (35). It is hard to reason with someone else. After “假” , “理” were substituted by other words, puns are created in the advertisement and making new contextual effects. The addressee should then derive the following implication from it: (36) Products are on preferential prices in Suning Supermarket during the Golden Week in May. 20 (37) Suning Supermarket offers plenty of gifts to consumers. Together with (36) and (37), the addressee ccn recover the following meaning: (38) The Sunning Supermarket will have promoting activities during the Golden Week in May. This advertisement would be possibly received by the addressee in the way as follows: “Welcome to our supermarket to buy things you like”, with such kindness and thoughtfulness, the worry or the lack of trust from the addressee will be reduced. There is another example printed in Xiaoxiang Morning Newspaper, advertising Happy Community, a new housing estate: (39) 家在幸福里, 幸福在家里 (幸福里社区) The literal meaning of the headline is fairly easy to understand. The addressee will first interpret it as: (40) The family is in happiness. However, the addressee will soon realize it is not such an easy thing and the brand name “Happy Community” gives rise to further contextual effects: (41) Living in Happy Community and enjoying a happy life. The utterance used in this advertisement at first sight seems to be inconsistent with the principle of relevance, since the intended effects could have been more economically achieved. The illustration both shows a happy family and the bird’s-eye view of the housing estate and the addresser again has deliberately chosen an utterance which causes her addressee extra processing effort. It cannot be said that the communicator intends the addressee to recover interpretation (41) and reject interpretation (40) because interpretation (40) is also relevant to the service in question: it may give your family a good living condition. The headline is compact in form and it leads to diverse beautiful associations about the estate. Because Chinese people attach importance to the happiness and harmonies in the family, the addressee would be moved by this advertisement. 21 4.6.3 Publicize the Brand Name There are many puns involving names of product or service advertised. Such puns not only can attract the addressee’s attention but also can highlight the brand names and therefore, the brand names will leave an especially deep impression on the addressee. (42) You to the Power of TNT! (TNT Global Express Service) The addressee will be probably shocked when the word “TNT” captures his attention. And he would naturally take it to mean “trinitrotoluene”, which is a powerful explosive. It would be the most accessible interpretations because “TNT” is the abbreviation of “trinitrotoluene”. The first interpretation is as follows: (43) The explosive trinitrotoluene has a destructive power to destroy everything. Once the addressee notices that “TNT” is the name of a global express service, (43) has to be rejected because it is inconsistent with the principle of relevance. Having put aside the first interpretation coming to mind, the addressee will be tempted to consider the meaning of “TNT” again, and additional clues in the body copy (44) of the advertisement may help him. (44) Business is a game of infinite possibilities. So no matter how well you are playing, it doesn’t hurt to explore a different strategy. At TNT, we are always looking for a better way. Can we do it faster? Better? More innovation? If not can we simply do it more? Moving your game forward in ways you’ve never dreamed possible. That’s you to the power of TNT. Since the advertisement is promoting a global express service, the addressee informed from the additional information in (44) would then recover the following interpretation (45): (45) The TNT Global Express Service can provide a faster and better service in delivery. With our global express, you can do your business more innovatively in ways you have never dreamed possible. 22 In the whole process, the addressee is required to make more processing efforts to work out the implicature intended by the advertiser in the punning advertisement than a direct one. However, the addressee would congratulate himself and probably approve of the ingenious meaning designed by the advertiser. In this way, the time the addressee spent on this advertisement is extended, and the TNT global express service becomes more memorable. Next time when he wants to deliver some thing, maybe he will choose this one. This is just the advertiser expected. 4.6.4 Propagandize the Abstract Qualities of Products Addressers like to propagandize the abstract and intangible qualities of the advertised products by employing puns in advertisements. By punning, the characteristics of the advertised products or services are emphasized. Examples are as follows: (46) I scream! You scream! No scream! (Golgate Sensitive Maximum Strength toothpaste) In this advertisement, under each sentence there is an illustration showing an ice-cream. “I scream” is the homophone of “ice cream”. Considering this is an advertisement for toothpaste, the addressee should then derive the following implication from the first part of it: (47) If you eat ice cream, your sensitive teeth will make you scream. Together with the latter part of headline, the addressee should recover the following conclusion: (48) You can enjoy ice cream with Golgate toothpaste for it will provide maximum strong relief for sensitive. First, this advertisement is especially attraction, and the addressee will be moved and amused by the creativity of the addresser in the processing of acquiring optimal relevance. More important, the characteristic of sensitive prevention and cure is emphasized. 23 (49) 晶采独白 （倩碧美白日霜） In this advertisement, the set phrase (49) originally means (50) An impressive monologue. (精彩独白) After “精彩” was substituted by other words, the phrase creates a different contextual effect, so the addressee might naturally intend to search for a context special for this new phrase. As the addresser, she does have left a clue as “white” which encourages the addressee to extend the contextual effect. Through addressee’s processing effort, a further interpretation would be derived as follows: (51) The Clinique White Day Cream help brighten and whiten the skin. Thus, the addressee observes the special function as whiting skin of the product. It also helps him to distinguish this product from those functions as anti-wrinkle or hydrated. 5 CONCLUDING REMARKS Based on Relevance Theory (1986/1995), this paper has analyzed puns in advertising. It focuses on the motivation of the advertiser who prefers to employ puns in advertising and the analysis about how puns in advertising possibly lead to effective communication. In this chapter, the author wants to give a brief summery of the discoveries obtained from the research, then try to specify the limitation of the research, and in the end, the author will suggest the future studies in the field of puns in advertising. 5.1 Contribution of the Study This paper has studied puns in advertising through elaboration and analysis. We can see how puns are employed in advertising. It plays an important role in image building and creation of trust and in attention-attracting. By means of puns in advertising, the advertiser directs her addressee towards optimal relevance. The interpretation process of puns in advertising reveals how the addressee achieves optimal relevance. Relevance Theory is such a type of economics 24 of communication theory and defines a possible point of equilibrium between effort and effect. A type of dynamic equilibrium can be attained at the point of optimal relevance of puns in advertising, where maximum yield of contextual implications is achieved with an acceptable amount of effort. In concluding, Relevance Theory provides the best framework for analyzing the role of puns in advertising, especially in regard to the question of processing effort. Even though puns requires greater processing effort than straightforward utterances, extra contextual effects are yielded which offset the greater effort. In this way, the effectiveness of advertising communication between the advertiser and her addressee has been evaluated. Moreover, it also sheds light on how advertising acts as a particularly good medium for assessing the force of language and explores the secret hidden in human’s mind. The study may provide the advertiser with a theoretical framework and guiding principles of puns in advertisements from the pragmatic point of view, thus helping them to make a better application of puns. On the other hand, addressees may benefit from the study by having a better understanding and in turn enjoying puns in advertising. And most important, the study aims to arouse people’s interest in puns in advertising and encourage them to participate in the study and application of this helpful advertising technique. 5.2 Limitation of the Study Limited by time and research competence, the thesis has some imperfections. First, an important limitation of this paper is a focus that is too narrow. The selection of topic clearly leaves aside many other devices in the language of advertising, despite the fact that it covers a wide array of theoretical and analytical problems. Secondly, the investigation has so far been only preliminary, based on a corpus of approximately one hundred advertisements from newspapers and magazines, materials from other sources such as radio and TV commercials have been excluded. This restriction should not be treated as an assertion that puns are unimportant in other 25 media. Thirdly, the advertisements discussed in this paper are all interpreted by the author from the relevance-theoretic point of view. According to Relevance Theory, the interpretation of an utterance may vary a little depending on who the addressee is. Thus the interpretation of the advertising provided as examples may be subjective and they are open to discussions. 5.3 Suggestions for Further Study It is possible to discuss the issue in combination with reference to other factors of advertising, such as pictures of illustrations. The force of an advertisement does not lie solely in its language. Sometimes interpretation of an advertisement cannot be finished without the aid of these factors. Research can also be conducted on the comparison of the interpretation of the addressee and the intention of the addresser in advertising communication. Further the addressee is active rather than passive in the course of advertising communication. Such activeness is manifested in interpretation. An investigation integrating the two parts will be useful. In that case, means of investigation, such as questionnaire of statistics, are needed. And definitely, there are some other relevant issues this study does not touch upon and therefore further study is awaited. It is hoped that the present study will make a contribution to the theory and the analysis of puns in advertising and provides some new insights for advertisers, addressee of advertising and other people concerned. The advertiser should try her best to produce original or creative advertisements. 26