Advertising language in the modern ukrainian media environment

Description of the current state of the language of advertising in the Ukrainian media space. Typical mistakes in advertising texts, the reasons for their occurrence, violations of literary norms. The samples to improve the language of advertisers.

Рубрика Журналистика, издательское дело и СМИ
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Advertising Language in the Modern Ukrainian Media Environment

Lysenko A.

У статті схарактеризовано сучасний стан мови реклами в українському медіапросторі. Подано приклади порушення літературних норм різних типів: змішування близьких за формою і сферою вживання, проте різних за творенням і змістом слів-паронімів; уживання в певній мовній ситуації слів чи словосполучень іншого функціонального стилю; нерозуміння буквального значення рідковживаних чи застарілих слів; неправильне вживання запозичень, порушення норм сполучуваності тощо. Розглянуто найтиповіші помилки в рекламних текстах та проаналізовано причини їх виникнення. Виявлено, що для мови реклами останнім часом характерне використання так званої «мовної гри», зокрема графічні виділення назви товару чи фірми, таким чином створюється можливість подвійного прочитання, творення неологізмів, неправильне сполучення слів, гра слів (каламбур), перероблення відомих висловів, прислів'їв, приказок, буквальний переклад тощо. Подано зразки для вдосконалення культури мовлення рекламодавців. У результаті дослідження з'ясовано, що відсутність належного редакторського і коректорського опрацювання призводить до грубих лексичних, граматичних, орфографічних та пунктуаційних помилок у текстах.

Ключові слова: реклама; рекламний текст; культура мовлення; літературні норми.

The article describes a current state of an advertising language in the Ukrainian media environment. The examples of literary norms violations of different types are presented. Those are mixing paronyms that are similar in forms and spheres of usage but different in structure and meaning; usage of words in a particular language situation or word combinations of another style; incomprehension of literal meaning of utilized or old-fashioned words; misusage of borrowings, violating norms of collocability, etc. Some typical mistakes in advertising texts are examined, and the reasons of their origin are analyzed. It has been discovered that the usage of so-called “language game”, particularly graphical display of a product name or a trade name, has been typical for advertising language lately. Consequently, appear a possibility of dual reading, neologisms formation, incorrect collocations, wordplay (pun), processing of popular expressions, proverbs, sayings, literal translation, etc.. It has been explained that the lack of editing and proofreading leads to unacceptable lexical, grammatical, orthographical, and punctuation mistakes in the texts.

Keywords: advertising; advertising text; speech culture; literary norms.

Introduction. Nowadays, the society is in a process of a continuous development, and changes that influence every sphere of human activity. Advertising as an inalienable attribute of any entrepreneurial activity also changes, according to the society development. These days it has turned into the most important means of popularization of goods, services, etc. Advertising world is remarkably diverse: verbal, picture (pictographic) advertisement, announcements, popularizations, etc. Advertising actively enters the speech of a modern Ukrainian language and, in a certain sense, influences its development. That is why the issues of the speech culture of modern advertising come to the foreground.

Under the conditions of market relations, advertising texts from the means of impact creation on the consumers gradually turn into the means of marketing communication. They play role of a bridge language between a producer and a consumer. A proper language arranging of an advertisement text is extremely important because the efficiency of an advertising campaign depends on it.

The advertising as a genre is relatively new in Ukraine. There is not enough practice, it is not perfect, and it has limitations. The amount of Ru- ssianisms, logical nonsense, orthographical mistakes, word-building constructions, incorrectly used punctuation marks are overwhelming, and reduce notional and linguistic value of an advertising. Such texts, sometimes illiterate and sometimes even obscene, are consciously replicated in modern mass communications. They are imposed as an intellectual standard, an example of a public communication.

Consequently, the aim of our article is to analyze the advertising speech in the modern Ukrainian media environment as well as to find out language peculiarities of modern advertising texts.

The advertising has its own terminological basis. However, it loses communicative efficiency because of the lack of professional performing and irresponsibility of its creators. A certain linguistics ethics of mass media environment is one of the main factors of the Ukrainian advertisement development in the scope of the European and world standards. Ukrianian and foreign linguists such as K. Bove, T. Bondarenko, N. Hrytsiuta, O. Derpak, F. Jeff- kins, O. Zelinska, I. Kozakov, B. Obrytko, O. Serbens- ka, I. Sokolova, O. Ponomariv, and others, paid attention to the problems of a modern advertising speech culture multiple times. Scientists study the usage of advertising language they give valuable advice concerning improvement of a speech culture.

Research Methods. The article is based on the methods of a contextual analysis and interpretations to define general tendencies of advertising language functioning. The monitoring was used to collect data about peculiarities of lexical items usage in the Ukrainian advertising. To present peculiarities of advertising texts formation in modern conditions we used the comparisons, general principles of scientism, objectivity.

Results and Discussion. The law of Ukraine “On advertising” is the main valid legal act that regulates advertising activity. In fact, this law forms the basis of the advertising regulation in Ukraine. It is mentioned in the Article no. 218 of the Principles of State Language Policy Act of Ukraine that “advertising announcements, messages, and other forms of audio and visual advertising products can be created in national language or another language if the advertisers decide so” [4].

The problem of native advertising speech culture is very serious. An intension of a spiritual world of Ukraine, a conservation of ethnic identity of the Ukrainians depends on it. The language of advertising products materializes not only personal but also the first and foremost public consciousness it influences the formation of a public opinion, helps to form a certain type of social behaviour. Information products consumers subconsciously copy language structures, use them in daily life and activities.

As one of mass communication types that accomplishes its main function to encourage consumers to act in an offered way, advertising should cohere with high requirements:

to be informatively authoritative;

to have accurate statements;

to ensure interests of both advertisers and consumers;

to be emotionally figurative, laconic, specific.

Speech culture is tightly connected to an abidance

by literary norms of word usage as well as to deliberate, purposeful, skillful usage of expressive linguistic means depending on communication situations. Mixing similar in form and sphere of usage but different in formation and sense words- paronyms can cause norms violation. The usage of words or word combinations of another style in a certain communication situation, incomprehension of literal meaning of rare or old-fashioned words, incorrect use of borrowings, collocability norms violations, etc., can also cause the violation of word usage norms.

To begin with, we need to analyze some examples of the “blatant errors”. The first one is «Ваша точність залежить від вірного вибору годинника. Годинник «Полёт» - це ваш вибір» (Your precision depends on the faithful choice of the watch. The watch “Polyot” is your choice.). The main mistakes of this advertisement are stylistic awkwardness, poverty and limitedness of vocabulary, repetition of the words “watch” and “choice”. According to an explanatory dictionary, the word «вірний» (faithful) has several meanings: «вірна дружина, вірний товариш, вірно любити» (faithful wife, fellow, to love faithfully) but not «вірний вибір, вірне рішення» (faithful choice, decision). In this case we need to use «правильно пишу, правильний вибір, правильне рішення» (to write correctly, a right choice, a right decision). Another advertisement says, «Панове! В умовах інфляції ми пропонуємо єдино вірний шлях примножити свої достатки, вклавши гроші у нерухомість» (“Ladies and gentleman! Under conditions of inflationary pressures we offer the only right way to increase your income, investing money in real estate”, and also: «Єдина зубна паста для всього рота»,( “The only toothpaste for the whole mouth” it is more reasonable to use oral cavity. Advertising texts are filled with tautology and pleonasms Among typical mistakes there are: «в лютому місяці( in February) (instead of «in February»), вільна вакансія(free vacancy) (as an alternative to «вільне місце», «вакансія») (“vacant post”, “vacancy”), моя автобіографія ( my biography) (in place of «автобіографія») ( autobiography), відступити назад( stand away) (instead of «відступити»)(step back), жахливо добрий, убивчо щедрий, чудовий нежить, страшенно гарний,(awfully kind , killing generous, wonderful nasal cold, terribly beautiful)etc. The Ukrainian word «перукарня» (hairdresser's) with the Russian name «Светлана» (Svetlana) is an example of incompatibility.

Many advertising texts end with syntactically illiterate appeal «звертатися за адресою» (direct to). To the question «куди? » “where?” one should answer with a noun and a preposition: звертатися (писати, надсилати) на адресу ( direct to (write, send). «За» “to” is used when it is necessary to answer the question «де?»”where?” - конференція відбудеться за адресою: 14 Shevchenko Street, Poltava.( the conference will be held at address 14 Shevchenko Street, Poltava.)

Advertisements often encourage the population of Ukraine «до навчання українській мові» (“to learn the Ukrainian language”). If an advertisement is written this way, there is a reason to have doubts as to the quality of education because, according to syntactical norms, it is necessary навчати не чому (українській мові), а чого (української мови) (to teach not what (the Ukrainian language), but what (the Ukrainian language).

Advertising products quite often inform that entrants of a certain educational establishment «здають екзамени» (“take exams”). Thus, they advertise not only a training college or an institute but also incorrect syntactic construction instead of standard Ukrainian «складають іспит (екзамен) » “take an exam (examination)”.

The following expressions also contradict syntactic norms: оцінки по предметах, працюють по обраних спеціальностях, виплата відсотків по залишкам на розрахункових рахунках, гід по магазинам. ( marks in subjects, work according to chosen professions,interest payment on operating accounts,shopping guide).The next ones correspond them in language standards: оцінки з предметів, працюють за обраними спеціальностями, виплата відсотків із залишків на розрахункових рахунках, гід по магазинах. ( marks in subjects, work according to chosen professions,interest payment on operating accounts,shopping guide). In turn, «Фуршет» (“Furshet”) offers to strike «по цінам» (“prices”)

One should be particularly attentive using phraseological units, set expressions, winged phrases, proverbs, sayings, etc. Their translation from one language into another is difficult and it requires remarkable knowledge of the language. It is unacceptable to use expressions like «границя його бажань» (предел желаний)(the hight of ambition), «сорочка-хлопець» (рубаха-парень) ( plain fellow), etc. Advertising has not avoided mistakes like these. That is why we can still find: «Робітникам, які успішно оволоділи спеціальністю і приймають активну участь у суспільному житті підприємства, колектив надає направлення для вступу до середніх або вищих учбових закладів». (“The workers who have mastered specialty and take an active hand in social life of an enterprise, the staff give letters of referral to enter secondary educational institutions and higher educational establishments”.) «Приймають активну участь» (“take an active hand”) - is a copy of Russian «принимают активное участие» (“take an active hand”). An analogue of a given word combination in Ukrainian language is «беруть активну участь». (“take an active hand”). The Ukrainian phrase «навчальні заклади» (“educational establishments”)corresponds the Russian word combination «учебные заведения» (“educational establishments”) but it is not учбові (educational) because there is a noun «учёба» (“studies”) in Russian language and in Ukrainian we have «навчання» (“studies”) out of which the mentioned adjectives are formed. There are also “immortal” «бажаючі» (“willing”) instead of «охочі» (“willing”), «дитяча площадка»(“children's playground”) as an alternative to «дитячий майданчик» (“children's playground”), «безплатно» (“free”) instead of «безкоштовно» (“free”) and «самі низькі ціни»(“ knock-down prices”) instead of «найнижчі» (“ knock-down prices”).

Using a word «нежить» (“nasal cold”) as a feminine when it belongs to a masculine is a very common mistake which can be noticed in video and audio advertisements of medicine for a cold. Bilingualism exists in our society, and it is the source of numerous mistakes that can be found in the announcements: «пражські ковбаски», «французські потолки», «вікна за честними цінами», «проїздні документи»(“Prague sausages”, “French ceilings», «windows at a true price», “travel documents”). We quite often find a word «будь-ласка» (“please”) in advertising texts. It should be used without a hyphen because it has the meaning «будьте ласкаві» (“would you... please”).

The usage of a so-called “language game” has been typical for advertising lately. Specialists consider that puns helps to make an advertisement creatively different and come into warm, informal contact with a recipient [2, p. 27]. A language game is a deliberate violation of language norms, rules of linguistic behaviour, alteration (distortion, deformation) of stereotyped expressions aimed to make a message more evocative [6]. The pun methods are the following:

a graphical display of a product's name or an enterprise's name (it creates an opportunity for dual reading ), e. g. «БЕ^ація, на яку Ви чекали! (SENSation, which you have been waiting for!) (the advertisement of computer's manufacturer “Sens”), «СМАКуйте життя!»( Taste Life!”) ( the advertisement of the enterprise «СМАК»); (“Taste”) a creation of neologisms: «Не гальмуй! Сні- керсуй», «Смачно! Муркотячно!»; (“Move on! Sni- ckersui”, “Tasty! Murkotiachno!”) an incorrect collocation: палючий холод, голосна тиша, страшенно гарний, породисті меблі, гірка радість, солодкий біль, складна простота; ( scorching cold, loud silence, terribly beautiful, purebred furniture, bittersweet, sweet pain, intricate simplicity;) a wordplay (pun) where two meanings are actualized in the context at the same time and semantic flickering appears: «Танінторт», «Свіже- На», «ТриКОТАж», etc.; ( “Tania's cake”, “Take fresh”, “Jersey”) a processing of popular expressions, proverbs, sayings: «Карл для Клари купує в «Коралі» ( Karl buys presents for Klara in “Coral”), «Прийшов, побачив, повечеряв» (“Came, saw, had supper”) and others; a literal translation: розроблені міроприємства, здібні булочки, слідуюча зупинка, досягнення в області машинобудування, etc. ( worked out measures, buns, next bus stop, achievements in the field of machinery manufacturing)

As a contemporary linguist affirms, development of advertising language is accompanied by the collision of two tendencies: an attempt to attract attention of the biggest possible amount of potential consumers with the help of linguistic methods and getting over language standards [1, p. 84].

Analyzing a signboard of the bank «Сбербанк Росії» (“Sberbank Rossii”) one can understand that «сбербанк» (“Savings bank”)is a reduction of a phrase in Russian «сберегательный банк» (“Savings bank”) but the correct translation into Ukrainian is «Збербанк Росії» (“Sberbank Rossii”).

The advertisement of VAB bank, where poor pigs-moneyboxes are compelled to commit suicide, shock viewers with not only an absurd plot but also «копилками» (“moneyboxes”) which are in dry dock. Perhaps «Приватбанк» (“Privatbank”) has also decided to satisfy the curiosity of the viewers with the help of «копилками» (“moneyboxes”). language advertising media

Travel agencies offer us to choose a country Турцію (Turkey) somewhere on the world's map. Туреччина(Turkey) does not satisfy them.

Ridiculous, improper names of different establishments can be added to advertising mistakes: a hairdressing salon «Фіфа» (“Bimbo”), a grocery store «Фора»(“Odds”), a pub «Гоп Стоп»(“Holdup”), a travel agency «Вагінтур»(“Vagintour”), a restaurant «Йо-майо» (“Whoops”), a cafe «Ульотне пиво» (“ Mind-blowing beer”), a dental clinic «Віфез- да» (“Bethesda”), a computer shop «Ума палата» ( “Mind like a steel trap”), and others.

The process, which makes one concerned, is that linguistic illiteracy of advertising often remains unnoticed by most people. Consumers of information sometimes acquire existent mistakes as something acceptable or unworthy of attention. Due to unnoticeable influence on consumers, advertisements are easily kept in mind; a wrong model is stored in subconsciousness.

The usage of the words of foreign origin in advertising texts is a complicated and ambiguous problem. Excessive and ungrounded usage of foreign words is characterized as so-called “display of fashion”, linguistic snobbism. Undoubtedly, it leads to impoverishment of lexical structure, limitedness of expressive methods that correspond to inner nature of a language perfectly. To avoid losing originality and significance of a language it is better not to use foreign words that have Ukrainian equivalents: компенсація - відшкодування, стимул - заохочення, легітимний - законний, etc. (compensation, encouragement, legal). Foreign words should be clear for everyone who listen or read them. One should not use a borrowing and a Ukrainian equivalent in the same context. It is necessary to choose one of them: патент - авторське свідоцтво, відсоток - процент. (patent-certificate of authorship,percent).It should be mentioned that this problem refers not only to Ukrainian language. However, other states protect their languages from excessive foreign impacts more actively. Thus, a special committee in Poland and France determines official usage of every foreign word. Every citizen of France can file lawsuit against a newspaper for the usage of foreign words without necessity, charging financial penalty up to 30 thousand dollars. Since 2001, all foreign words on promotional items, shop-windows, names of shops, cafes, manuals, etc., should be changed into Polish legislatively. Besides a group of German linguists, who started a campaign “For purity of German language”, offered to reject usage of 4000 Anglicisms in the sphere of pop music, advertising, and computers, and change them into German ones [8, p. 173].


Ukrainian advertising business works on the principle of saving of as much money and time as possible. Instead of creating a new video, a foreign one is translated so that they don't need to invite an editor; a designer is responsible for a textual part; instead of using a dictionary, one chooses the Internet.

Absence of a proper editorial and proofreader's processing leads to rough lexical, grammatical, orthographical, and punctuation mistakes in the texts. There is no universal instruction on how to avoid analogous mistakes. However, if advertising people realized that they are responsible for the product they create, it could essentially reduce the amount of mistakes. In any case, one should memorize that low quality of external advertising has a negative impact on a company's image.

Mistakes in advertising texts can stand in the way of the main aim of advertising - to make consumers use promoted services or goods [5, p. 15]. High speech culture should be the basis of advertising products' language and an advertising agent should be a person who is an example of linguistic imitation. Every educated person should keep to culture of own language and avoid linguistic mistakes.


1. Грицюта Н. Проблеми мовної естетики реклами/ Н. Грицюта// Стиль і текст. - 2010. - №11. - С. 82-96

2. Дерпак О. Ефективність реклами: мовні особливості / О. Дерпак// Актуальні проблеми української лінгвістики: теорія і практика. - 2010. - № 8. - С. 24-33

3. Джефкінс Ф. Реклама : практ. посіб. / Ф. Джеф- кінс ; пер. з англ., доп. і ред. Д. Ядіна. - К. : Знання, 2001. - 456 с.

4. Закон України «Про засади державної мовної політики» // ВВР України. - 2013. - № 28. - Ст. 218.

5. Козаков Г. Саботаж: актуальні проблеми культури ефірного мовлення / Г. Козаков // Теле- та радіо- журналістика. - 2011. - №8. - С. 144-154

6. Обритько Б. Реклама і рекламна діяльність/ Б. Обритько. - К., 2009. - 240 с.

7. Пономарів О. Культура слова: мовностилістичні поради / О. Пономарів - К., 2001. - 240 c.

8. Фаріон І. Мовна норма: знищення, пошук, віднова (культура мовлення публічних людей): [монографія]. - Вид. 3-тє, доп./І. Фаріон. - Івано-Франківськ: Місто НВ, 2013. - 332 с.

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