1.1 Background of the Study
Advertising is a form of communication used to
encourage or persuade on audience (viewer, reader or listeners) to continue to
take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to influence
consumers’ behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although, political
and ideological advertising is also common. The purpose of advertising may also
be to reassure employees or shareholders that a company is viable or
successful. Advertising messages are usually paid for by sponsors and viewed
via various traditional media: including mass media such as: newspaper,
magazines, television commercials, radio advertisement, outdoor advertising or
direct mail, or new media such as websites and text-messages.
Advertising has been defined as “a powerful
communication force and a vital marketing tool helping to sell goods and
services, images and ideas”…. (Wright, 2003:8). Similarly, Roderick (1980:4)
defines advertising as “a message specified by its originator, carried by a
communication system and intended to influence and/or inform an unknown
audience.” Advertising may also be seen as “a group of activities aiming at and
including dissemination of information in any paid product or service to compel
actions in accordance with the intent of an identifiable sponsor” (Doughuge,
Advertising has a long history, with some options
tracing its origin to the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Bible
(Okigbo, 1985:10 and Weffer, 1985:6). Wright (2000:4) however, opines that
advertising started in ancient Babylon at about 3000BC when inscription for an
ointment dealer, a scribe and a shoe maker were made on clay tablets. Sandage
and Fryburger (1963) argue that Egyptians first wrote runaway-slave
announcements on papyrus at about 3200BC. In Africa,
town crying and hawking were the earliest forms of advertising. These have
survived in many Nigerian villages till date. With respect to media
advertising, which is the focus of this paper Sandage and Fryburger (cited in
Okeke, 2006:24) suggest that the first media advertising was done in London in
1477 when a prayer book was announced for sale, while the first newspaper
advertising appeared in the Boston Newsletter in 1704
The print media came into Nigeria in 1859 with the appearance of a Yoruba
language newspaper “Iwe Iroyin” published by Reverend Henry Townsend at Abeokuta. The publication
carried an advert in form of an announcement for the Anglican Church.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is noteworthy that the earliest forms of
newspaper advertising were crude and unsophisticated. But they not only help
the local merchants to sell of his goods, or services, but also set a pace for
the modern methods of advertising, which have over a long period of time
undergone tremendous changes such that today, a lot can be written on the
language of advertising in Nigeria. This is possible because advertising has
become more professional, involving copywriters who exploit all the available
linguistic devices to make their adverts not only persuasive, but also
aesthetically appealing. This paper therefore, attempts a linguistic analysis
of the language of newspaper advertising in Nigeria, highlighting the
phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic features that make them
attractive and persuasive.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to survey the language of
newspaper advertisement. Specifically, the study sought to;
1. To know how to construct adverts to attract
readers or viewers.
2. To be able to distinguish the terminology to use
in different adverts.
3. To be able to determine the right choice of
language used in newspaper advertisement.
4. To understand the need for long or short newspaper
1.4 Research Questions
The following will help guide the research study
in achieving its objectives:
1. What makes you stop and look at the adverts?
2. What kind of adverts do you place on newspapers?
3. What kind of caption should be given to adverts?
4. What kind of message should be driven out through
5. Should adverts be short or lengthy?
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be able to unveil some of those
hidden facts about the use and choice of languages used in newspaper
advertisements, and also bring about a more refined advert outputs. This
research study will highly relevant to the readers, and especially to the world
of journalism in the way and manner in which adverts are to be constructed and
be placed on newspapers for public consumption.
The study will also help to ensure that the
choices of languages of newspaper adverts are properly selected so that those
who pay for the adverts will be satisfied with the publications, and that the
readers’ attention will be captured at the sight of such adverts.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the Study
study is a survey of the language of newspaper advertisement, a case study of
Limitations of study
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the
efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature
or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously
engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down
on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Advertisement: A notice or
announcement in a public medium promoting a product, service, or event or
publicizing a job vacancy.
Newspaper: A printed
publication (usually issued daily or weekly) consisting of folded unstapled
sheets and containing news, articles, advertisements, and correspondence.
Language: The method of human
communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a
structured and conventional way.