1. Introduction 1
2. Demonstration 2
2.1 Definition and characteristics of puns 2
2.1.1 Definition 2
2.1.2 Characteristics of puns 3
2.2 Pragmatic function of puns in advertisements 3
2.3 Theoretical Framework of Relevance Theory 5
2.3.1 Ostensive-inferential Communication 5
2.3.2 Optimal Relevance 6
2.3.3 Cognitive Context 7
2.3.4 Implicature 7
2.4 Analysis of puns in advertisements from the perspective of Relevance Theory 8
2.4.1 Ostensive- inference and Puns in Advertisements 8
2.4.2 Optimal Relevance and Puns in Advertisements 10
2.4.3 Context and Puns in Advertisements 12
2.4.4 Implicature and Puns in Advertisements 13
3. Conclusion 14
Works Cited 16
A Study of Puns in Advertisements from the Perspective of Relevance Theory
Advertisement is a common commercial marketing in people’s daily life. Advertisement is also an efficient promotion method in business that has great influence on the brand building of firms, which has great impact on customers’ buying behaviors. However, countless advertisements have been ignored by audience for their boring language. To avoid this problem and promote their products, firms including the multinational firms or medium or small firms are all trying to make excellent advertisements to catch the eyes of customers. There is a famous principle in advertisement whose name is KISS, which means keep it simple and sweet. KISS principle indicates that advertisement should be simple and the language should be pleasant.
Pun is a word play with humorous effects in communication by using one word or phrases that has two or more meanings with the forms of similar sounds or meanings (Guo，2011). Ambiguity of puns brings two or more contexts in sentences. Using puns is to make advertisement simple and stupid. Using puns in advertisement is also a way to make the advertisement special, simply and creative leaving customers deep impression. When advertisers use puns in advertisement, customers will be required to pay more efforts to understand the advertisements seeking from their cognitive contexts and build double or even more contexts, which can bring joy to customers as well.
Since advertisement is a one-way communication connecting with customers, to which the concepts of Relevance Theory can be applied. Advertisers promote their products through language and audiences analyze, infer and understand the meaning of advertisements with cognitive context. The process of understanding advertisements is also the progress of seeking for optimal relevance (Tang，2003) and understanding the implicature.
As a common rhetoric, pun has the characteristics of ambiguity and double contexts, so when advertisers use puns in advertisements, customers will be required to pay more efforts to understand the advertisements seeking from their cognitive contexts and build double or even more contexts, which can bring joy to customers as well. And if used properly, pun can make advertisements more special, simple and creative leaving customers deep impression. So pun is widely used in different kinds of advertisements which can promote customers to purchase the products.
As puns are widely used in advertisements, it is essential to introduce the basic concepts of puns such as its definition and characteristics, pragmatic functions of puns in advertisements.
2.1 Definition and characteristics of puns
In order to help us understand pun better, its definition and characteristics are displayed.
As a rhetorical device, the use of pun has a very long history. It may trace back to Greek. About 2000 years ago, Aristotle said that pun could be used in some writing works. Since then pun has been widely used by many people. For example, Shakespeare used almost 3000 puns in his works(Li, 2000).
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