Knowledge representation, aesthetic communication, and cultural consumption in advertising discourse
Vincent Tao-Hsun Chang (National Chengchi University, Taiwan) [BIO]
This paper aims to explore the dialogic relations between form and function in advertising discourse by looking into the contemporary Chinese advertisements released by Eslite – the leading light of the bookstores in Taiwan. The rhetorical strategies of syntactic parallelism and repetition of name and metaphor are creatively manipulated through literary styles within the ads to attract the audience's attention, to initiate cognitive poetic effects and advertising literariness, and to perform diverse communicative functions. They convey too the dominant ideologies, viz. intellectualism, elitism, social critique of taste, nostalgia, friends' rapport, feminine awakening, humanistic concern, and those current lifestyles of petits bourgeoisie in urban contexts.
Language carries knowledge. Since verbal communication is a crucial means in Eslite's cultural marketing, the linguistic devices (name, metaphor and poetic effects) are far more prominent. Eslite sells and promotes knowledge not merely from the target commodity – books, but much often directly from interpersonal diffusion, from its captions, notices, DMs, pamphlets, brochure etc. circulated amongst the readers or 'insiders'. The advertisements vastly adopt elegant wordings and stylistic patterns from celebrity, fashion, proper names, professional and technical terms to produce aesthetic value. They invite/encourage an active/imaginative audience to consume the texts and spell out a variety of weak implicatures involving feelings, attitudes, emotions and impressions along these lines (Sperber & Wilson 1986/1995, Pilkington 1992, Noveck & Sperber 2006, Forceville 2005). Positioning the readers as social elite and shaping the corporate image/brand as a cultural polysemy and landmark of cultural empowerment, also they trigger an emergent text genre with communicative innovation in cultural industry and academic disciplines.
Communicative strategies enrich story lines, which themselves enrich life. Eslite bookstore delivered the ads incorporating abundant popular/familiar or unpopular/unfamiliar but somehow brilliant advertising appeals within texts to transmit knowledge at two stages. The first stage originates from texts themselves, the second results in indirect "communicative act" (van Leeuwen 2002) – to read and to buy. It intends to convey knowledge via aesthetic representation, bridging the gap between the East and the West as well as shortening the social distance between consumer and seller in an amiable yet fresh way, but intends to build cultural image through globalisation and might gain itself competitive edges. This functional linguistic study unveils aesthetic/cultural consumption of celebrities, artistic commodification, identity politics, cultural imperialism and linguistic hegemony reified within the symbolic domain of popular cultural encounters. It reveals the social cohesion/interaction and cognitive dynamics of communicator and audience, thus maintaining the dialectical relationship between sociocultural structures and social practice/campaigning discourse (Fairclough 1995).