Language Means to Express the Communicative Tactic of “Emphasis Shifting” in Advertising Discourse

© The Editorial Council and Editorial Board of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 38, 2019, pp. 66-72

Language Means to Express the Communicative Tactic of “Emphasis Shifting” in Advertising Discourse

Izmalkova Anna

Article first published online: December 30, 2019 


Additional information

 Author Information: 

Izmalkova Anna, instructor at the Germanic Philology Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University. Correspondence: a.izmalkova@donnu.edu.ua

Citation: 
Izmalkova, A. Language Means to Express the Communicative Tactic of “Emphasis Shifting” in Advertising Discourse [Text] // Linhvistychni Studiyi / Linguistic Studies : collection of scientific papers / Vasyl' Stus 
Donetsk National University; Ed. by Anatoliy Zahnitko. Vinnytsia : Vasyl' Stus DonNU, 2019. Vol. 38. Pp. 66-72. ISBN 966-7277-88-7

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.31558/1815-3070.2019.38.10

Publication History:

Volume first published online: December 30, 2019
Article received: October 17, 2019, accepted: December 15, 2019 and first published online: December 30, 2019

Annotation.

Розкрито суть маніпулятивного впливу комунікативної тактики «зміщення акценту» на реципієнта. Досліджені структурні та комунікативні особливості рекламних текстів, в яких використана тактика «змі-щення акценту», на прикладі текстів реклами автомобілів німецькою та англійською мовами. Проведений аналіз рекламних текстів на лексичному, стилістичному та синтаксичному рівнях.

Keywords: morphological category, singular, plural, ideation, mentalization, identification.



Abstract.

LANGUAGE MEANS TO EXPRESS THE COMMUNICATIVE TACTIC OF “EMPHASIS SHIFTING”
IN ADVERTISING DISCOURSE

Anna Izmalkova

Germanic Philology Department, the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University, Vinnytsia, Ukraine

Abstract

Background: Linguistic studies of advertising are a relatively new phenomenon that started developing only in the 1950's and 1960's. The interest in the study of advertising, advertising discourse and its manipulative features has been increasing recently. Many modern linguists dedicate their works to the study of advertising discourse and advertising texts. Among them are N. Janich, G. Cook, G. Myers, H. Kaftanjiev, who analyze both the purely linguistic phenomena found in advertising texts and its relation to the context of advertising communication. However, not all aspects of this issue are sufficiently covered in the scientific literature and it remains relevant, because of lack of the clear and unified classification of communication strategies and tactics, as well as the analysis of their linguistic means.

Purpose: The purpose of the article is to identify the structural and communicative features of car advertising texts in German and English languages within the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” as one of the tactics of the communicative strategy of manipulation.

Results: The following structural and communicative features of the car advertising texts were found: 1) the manipulation in the car advertisements using the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” is realized mainly on the lexical level and the most important role play lexemes, that create a positive evaluation of the product; 2) stylistic means (mainly metaphors) serve for intensifying lexical means and promoting their better memorizing; 3) syntactic means (mainly incomplete sentences) draw attention of the recipient to certain lexical means.

Discussion: The issue of communicative strategies and tactics in advertising discourse requires the further study of the structural and communicative features by which each of strategies and tactics is implemented.

Keywords: advertising discourse, advertising text, language manipulation, language means, communicative tactic.

Vitae

Anna Izmalkova is instructor at the Germanic Philology Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University. Her areas of research interests include communicative linguistic, cognitive linguistic, pragmatics.

Correspondence: a.izmalkova@donnu.edu.ua


Article.

Anna Izmalkova

DOI 10.31558/1815-3070.2019.38.10

УДК 81`42:811.11

 

LANGUAGE MEANS TO EXPRESS THE COMMUNICATIVE TACTIC OF “EMPHASIS SHIFTING”
IN ADVERTISING DISCOURSE

 

Розкрито суть маніпулятивного впливу комунікативної тактики «зміщення акценту» на реципієнта. Досліджені структурні та комунікативні особливості рекламних текстів, в яких використана тактика «зміщення акценту», на прикладі текстів реклами автомобілів німецькою та англійською мовами. Проведений аналіз рекламних текстів на лексичному, стилістичному та синтаксичному рівнях.

Ключові слова: рекламний дискурс, рекламний текст, мовна маніпуляція, мовні засоби, комунікативна тактика.

There is no doubt, that advertising plays an important role in a society. Spreading through all spheres of human life, not only does it promote the sale of goods and advertised services, but also reflects the current state of socio-cultural, scientific and technical development. In addition, it is able to massively influence the worldview, stereotypes, behavior and other aspects of a person. That is why, in order to better understand the phenomenon of advertising and the impact of advertising discourse on the recipient's mind, as well as to use this knowledge in practice, it is important to study communicative strategies and tactics by which advertising authors achieve their goals.

The first studies of advertising emerged in the 1920s being devoted to the analysis of advertising in terms of economics. After the Second World War, with the rapid economical development and the influx of a large number of new products in the market, advertising researches were gaining popularity. There also emerged numerous popular scientific works and trade magazines on advertising, marketing and their psychological impact on the recipient. Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders (1957), which describes the great potential of advertising to influence people's minds, was one of the first and most famous of these works. Linguistic studies of advertising appeared only in the 1950's and 1960's, but at that time they remained rather superficial, since advertising was perceived as a negative phenomenon that can manipulate people. This view changed only in the 1990s and advertising became an acceptable object of study for qualifying papers and monographs (Janich, “Werbesprache: ein Arbeitsbuch” 1516).

Most of the current researches focuse on the study of such components of advertising texts as, for example, advertising slogans. Multimodal advertising analysis is also quite common, considering not only the verbal component of the advertising message, but also all its non-verbal aspects, such as images, video and audio, transmission means of an advertising message (print media, flyers, TV, Internet, etc.), expected recipient's reaction and others.

There are a number of scholars’ works devoted to various aspects of advertising research (linguistic, psychological, economic, cultural, etc.). Considering the advertising text and advertising discourse from a linguistic point of view, there should first be mentioned such researchers as Greg Myers, who studies the social context and language of advertising texts and their relationship, emphasizing the intertextual links of advertising texts with other text types; Nina Janich, who analyzes German advertising texts and their separate components (slogans, names of goods, etc.) at different language levels and according to their transmission means as well as the features of advertising communication planning and the coherence between verbal and non-verbal elements of advertisement; Guy Cook, who examines English advertising texts in their context; Hristo Kaftandzhiev, who explores the concepts of advertising strategies and tactics, as well as analyzes the features of advertising texts and their titles.

The issue of advertising and advertising discourse is obviously very relevant and well-researched, but the scientific works still lack a clear and unified classification of communication strategies and tactics, as well as the analysis of their linguistic means. The above mentioned phenomena determine the novelty of this research.

The purpose of the article is to identify the structural and communicative features of car advertising texts in German and English languages within the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” as one of the tactics of the communicative strategy of manipulation.

To achieve this purpose, the following tasks were set:

1) to study the communicative features of the tactic of an “emphasis shifting”;

2) to make a corpus of texts of car advertising, which use the tactic of an “emphasis shifting”;

3) to analyze the structure of advertising texts;

4) to distinguish and consider the peculiarities of lexical units, which are characteristic of the tactic of an “emphasis shifting”;

5) to explore syntactic relationships in advertising texts;

6) to analyze the stylistic means used in the texts of cars advertising.

The subject matter of the study is the texts of car advertising in German and English.

The scope of the study is the linguistic means to express the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” as the main tactic of the communicative strategy of manipulation in car advertising texts at lexical, syntactic and stylistic levels.

The study material consists of 60 German (17,540 characters) and 60 English car advertising texts (15,889 characters) from the magazines “Der Spiegel”,” Focus”, “Stern” and others (in German) and “The Economist”, “NewStatesman” and others (in English) for the period 20142017.

Each communicative tactic is aimed at changing certain aspects of the recipient's personality in order to achieve the goal of the addresser (Issers 114). The main purpose of any commercial advertisement is to distinguish the advertised product from other similar goods by emphasizing its only positive qualities. However, it should be understood that in addition to the characteristics that attract the buyer's attention and create a positive image of the goods, each product has its negative sides. In addition, the positive characteristics of the advertised product as well as the competitor products often coincide. Therefore, to attract attention to a particular product, advertisers are often forced to create such advertising text that would cause the recipient to associate the product with facts urelated to it, such as achieving complete freedom after purchasing a car. The tactic of an “emphasis shifting” is used in this case.

Using the tactic of an “emphasis shifting”, the sender of the advertising message focuses on the secondary facts that form the desired perception of an advertisement by a recipient, distracting the recipient from full awareness of the real characteristics of the advertised product. At the same time, similarly to using other tactics of manipulation strategy, the alertness of recipients is diminished, their worldview, way of thinking are imperceptibly adjusted, and their stereotypes are manipulated. Thus, the emphasis shifts to the information that contributes to the achieving of the hidden goals of a message sender (Bykova 128). In this case the purpose of the tactic of an “emphasis shift is to create a positive evaluation of the product and its manufacturer, that is to strengthen the positive characteristics and to hide, to reduce the impact of negative characteristics” (Pocheptsov 339).

Therefore, using the tactic of an “emphasis shifting”, an advertiser mentions only the part of the information that forms a positive attitude to the product or brand that produces this latter. The accumulation of the appropriate lexical means becomes the main tool in creating the advertising message, e.g.,

Ger. Jagt mit Netz.

Der neue CLA Shooting Brake mit Mercedes connect me.

Der neue Shooting Brake ist stets online und damit das verbindende Element zu zahlreichen innovativen Technologien: Servicedienste, die Ihr Leben entlasten oder Apps, die es bereichern. Und dank GPS-Ortung auf dem Smartphone ist auch die Fahrzeugsuche in fremden Metropolen kein Problem mehr. (Der Spiegel, № 15, 2015)

‘Hunt with net.

The new CLA Shooting Brake with Mercedes connect me.

The new Shooting Brake is always online and thus the connecting element to the numerous innovative technologies: services that ease your life or apps that enrich it. And thanks to GPS tracking on the smartphone, searching for a vehicle in foreign cities is no longer a problem.’

The exemplified advertising text draws attention to only one technology: The focus is shifted on the function of the car to connect with a smartphone. This feature becomes the main one in the car and its positive evaluation goes on the whole car, other characteristics not being taken into account. To do this, a number of lexical means that relate to the emphasized technologies, are used: noun Netz ‘net’, compound nouns Fahrzeugsuche ‘searching for a vehicle’, GPS-Ortung ‘GPS tracking’, abbreviations GLA, GPS, foreign words, such as nouns online, Apps, compound nouns Servicedienste ‘services’, and word-groups connec me, smartphone interface, Shooting Brake. It should be mentioned that foreign words and abbreviations are quite effective in manipulation due to the lack of an internal meaning for the addressee's consciousness (Bazanova, Kirilenko). That is why they often complicate text perception for the recipient, focusing attention away from the actual characteristics of the product and from the fact of manipulation.

The latter is very important for the manipulation efficiency, because the attempt to manipulate is successful only when the addressee does not realize the influence or the main purpose of the manipulator remains unknown (Dotsenko 5155). However, recipients always understand that the advertising has the purpose to force them to purchasing a product. Such awareness of the purpose of advertising alerts the addressee and creates a negative or preconceived attitude towards the advertisement and the advertised product. The use of foreign words, numerals and abbreviations does not give the recipient time to realize that his consciousness is manipulated

The same way the Mercedes-Benz advertisement focuses on easy car parking:

Ger. Passt beim Einparken auf. Sie tun es ja schon oft genug. Inspiriert von Eltern: die neue V-Klasse mit aktivem Park-Assistenten und 360o-Kamera.

Die neue V-Klasse hat alles im Blick. Denn dank 360o-Kamera und aktivem Park-Assistenten wird das Einparken und Rangieren selbst auf engstem Raum zum Kinderspiel – damit Sie das Wichtigste nicht aus den Augen verlieren. Mehr Informationen bei Ihrem Mercedes-Benz Partner und auf www.neue-v-klasse-de. (Der Spiegel № 14, 2015)

‘Watches out when parking. You do it often enough. Inspired by parents: the new V-Class with an active parking assistant and 360-degree camera.

The new V-Class has everything in view. Thanks to the 360-degree camera and active parking assistant, parking and maneuvering is the child's play even in confined spaces – so you do not lose sight of the most important things. More information from your Mercedes-Benz partner and at www.neue-v-klasse-de.

To draw attention to one particular function, the repetition of the following lexical means that relate to the emphasized technologies is used: nouns Einparken ‘parking’, Rangieren ‘maneuvering’, complex nouns Park-Assistant ‘parking assistant’, 360o-Kamera ‘360-degree camera’, noun phrases aktiver Park-Assistant ‘active parking assistant’, engster Raum ‘confined space’. The impression of technology newness is intensified by the adjective neu ‘new’.

In the English advertisement of BMW M760Li xDrive the most winning characteristic of the car, that is its speed, plays a central role. To attract attention to it, there are such lexical means as the noun phrase (the name of the technology) M Performance TwinPower Turbo, numerals and abbreviations (6.6 litre V12. 610hp. 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds) and adjective quicker.

Eng. Introducing the BMW M760Li xDrive. M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology. 6.6 litre V12. 610hp. 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. For some, the climb to the top is quicker. (NewStatesman 9–15 Dec 2016)

The following example uses the nouns diesel, smoothness, quietness, engine adjectives quiet, smooth, word-groups whisper diesel, free of vibration, diesel car, participle heard, optimized to draw attention to the quietness of the car engine:

Eng. QUIET REVOLUTION

INTRODUCING THE NEW WHISPER DIESELS

NEW MERIVA SE 1.6 CDTi It is the excellent refinement that impresses most. Commendably quiet and free of vibration. Autocar

ASTRA SRi 1.6CDTi What impresses you about the 1.6 diesel in the Astra is its smoothness and quietness. Autocar

ZAFIRA TOURER SE 1.6 CDTi The Zafira Tourer's new engine is a remarkably smooth and quiet affair ... delivers on Vauxhall's claims - it's quiet, tractable and economical. Autocar

Vauxhall's revolutionary whisper 1.6 CDTi diesels will change the way diesel cars will be seen (and heard) forever. The high tech tightweight aluminium construction and the optimised component design makes them remarkably quiet as well as being smooth, highly fuel efficient and low on CO2. Definitely something to shout about. (NewStatesman 14–20 Nov 2014)

Consequently, the lexical means used in the tactic of an “emphasis shifting" help to shift the recipient's attention to the positive qualities of the product, concealing its negative characteristics. Such advertisement impedes a comprehensive perception of an advertised product, creating a specific, unique image of it.

Sometimes such a positive image is completely unrelated to the product. This occurs in cases, where the focus is shifted not to a particular product characteristic, but to a lifestyle that is promised after buying of an advertised product (Popova 281). In most cases these advertising texts use words related to such values as love, freedom, etc. (Janich, “Werbekommunikation pragmatisch” 38).

Die Mobilität der Zukunft wird nicht nur individuell, intuitiv und vernetzt. Sie wird unser Leben machen und uns mehr Freiheiten ermöglichen. (Der Spiegel № 35, 2016)

‘The mobility of the future will not only be individual, intuitive and networked. It will make our life and give us more freedom.’

In the example, the nouns with a positive connotation Leben ‘life’ and Freiheit ‘freedom’ are used to give the consumer the feeling, that his life will be free and careless after purchasing of the advertised car. Their effect is enhanced by the nouns Mobilität ‘mobility’, Zukunft ‘future’, adjectives individuell ‘individual’, intuitive ‘intuitive’, vernetzt ‘networked’ and the verb ermöglichen ‘to give / to make possible’.

Eng. Change is Good

All-New Hyundai Tucson

Life is all about change. It frees up our imagination and we see things in a new light.

Change is the spirit that created the all-new Tucson. Discover the power of change at: change-is-good.eu (The Economist Oct 1723 2015)

The example text emphasizes the novelty of the car and the technologies used in it. These technologies must certainly change the life of the car owner for the better. This effect is achieved by repeating the noun change, nouns and adjectives with a positive connotation life, imagination, good, all-new, new, the verb with a positive connotation to free up.

In addition, sometimes attention is shifted to the description of beautiful landscapes that actualize the desire of a person for freedom and unity with nature. This approach is more common in video or image advertisements, but sometimes it can be discernible in advertising texts. E.g.,

Eng. Introducing the new Golf Alltrack with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. Soon to be everywhere.

Let’s rethink dirt. Because with dirt also comes green grass, tall trees, and roads far less traveled. That’s why we equipped the Golf Alltrack with 4MOTION all-wheel and an Off-Road Mode, so you can go out there and seize the beauty of this dirt-covered world, get your wheels muddy, and wash off all that civilization, After all, dirt is the greatest of cleaners. Volkswagen. (Time December 2016)

In this advertisement for the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, the author first names the new technology used in the car (4MOTION all-wheel drive) and then gradually moves to philosophical contemplation about what dirt is. This kind of reasoning, on the one hand, is related to 4MOTION all-wheel drive technology, but on the other hand, it is completely irrelevant to the addressee and completely distracts the recipient’s attention from the car itself. At the same time, thanks to such lexical means as nouns dirt, beauty and noun phrases green grass, tall trees, roads far less traveled, dirt-covered world, muddy wheels, the pictures of unspoiled nature appear in front of the recipient: green grass, tall trees, untraveled roads.

Speaking of stylistic means, it should be mentioned that for the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” they serve to enhance the effect of lexical means. Their main purpose is to promote better memorizing of both the product and its relevant characteristics. E. g., in the previous advertisement of the automobile Golf Alltrack the following stylistic means are used: the metaphor wash off all that civilization and the oxymoron dirt is the greatest of cleaners that are rather catchy and can stay in the recipient's memory for a long time.

Similarly, in the advertisement of BMW cars, the slogan, which consists of the antithesis, is used to emphasize their fuel-efficiency:

Ger. Weniger Verbrauch. Mehr Fahrfreude. (Der Spiegel, № 15, 2015)

‘Less consumption. More driving pleasure.’

To intensify the emphasis on the particular key element of the advertisement, different syntactic expressive means may be used. E.g.:

Ger. Wir bewegen Menschen. In die Zukunft.

Es ist an der Zeit, Mobilität neu zu denken.

Für individuelle Erlebnisse.

(...) Gemeinsam mit unseren Marken gestalten wir richtungsweisende Ideen, die neue Wege eröffnen. Von der Vision zum Erlebnis.

Gemeinsam schreiben wir Geschichte. Die der Zukunft. (Der Spiegel № 35, 2016)

‘We move people. In the future.

It's time to rethink mobility.

For individual experiences.

(...) Together with our brands, we design trend-setting ideas that open up new paths. From the vision to the experience.

Together we write the history. Of the future.’

The example uses the parceling (Wir bewegen Menschen. In die Zukunft.; ...richtungsweisende Ideen, die neue Wege eröffnen. Von der Vision zum Erlebnis.; Gemeinsam schreiben wir Geschichte. Die der Zukunft.) and the incomplete sentence Für individuelle Erlebnisse.

In the following advertisement of Abarth 124 Spider incomplete sentences are also used (e.g., Season change.; No excuses.):

Eng. New Abarth 124 Spider. (...) Season change. Our passion for performance is all year round. Take to the road and drive. No excuses. (Esquire March 2017)

Analysis of car advertising texts in German and English showed that the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” is the most common tactic due to its efficiency: It is used in 43 % of car advertising texts in German (25 texts out of 60) and 56 % of texts in English (33 texts out of 60 ).

As a result of the frequency analysis of language means use to express the tactic of an “emphasis shifting" by the implementation of the manipulation strategy in the German language, 296 units of language means were identified that are characteristic of these tactics. Among these, ≈78 % (231 units) of lexical means, consisting of ≈60 % (177 units) of lexemes, which emphasize a certain positive feature of the goods (105 nouns and noun phrases (≈35 %), 61 adjectives (21 %), 6 verbs (≈2 %), 5 adverbs (≈2 %)) and ≈18 % (54 units) of lexical means that distract the recipient’s attention and complicate the analysis of product characteristics (21 foreign words (≈7 %), 25 numerals (≈8 %), 8 abbreviations (≈ 3%)). The number of stylistic (mainly metaphors) and syntactic (incomplete sentences, parceling) means is ≈7 % (22 units) and ≈15 % (43 units) respectively.

In English texts of car advertisements the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” is expressed with 407 units of language means. Among these, ≈59 % (242 units) of lexical means, consisting of ≈60 % (177 units) of lexemes, which emphasize a certain positive feature of the goods (135 nouns and noun phrases (≈33 %), 86 adjectives and participles (≈21 %), 16 verbs (≈4 %), 5 adverbs (≈1 %)) and ≈21 % (84 units) of lexical means that distract the recipient’s attention and complicate the analysis of product characteristics (41 numerals (≈10 %), 43 abbreviations (≈11 %)). The number of stylistic (mainly metaphors and repetitions) and syntactic (incomplete sentences) tools is ≈11 % (44 units) and ≈9 % (37 units) respectively.

To sum up, the following structural and communicative features were identified during the analysis of car advertising texts in German and English:

1. The purpose of the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” is to draw the addressee's attention to controversial facts: positive product features or the lifestyle that the product promises to provide to its owner.

2. The strategy of manipulation in the car advertising is implemented by the tactic of an “emphasis shifting” mainly at the lexical level in both languages. The main role plays the lexis, which emphasizes a certain positive characteristic of the car (e.g., nouns ger. Onlinedienst ‘online service, ger. Einparken ‘parking’, eng. battery, noun phrases ger. Matrix LED-Scheinwerfer ‘Matrix LED spotlight’, ger. engster Raum ‘confined space, eng. Direct Adaptive System, eng. smothness, eng. fuel consumption, adjectives ger. schnell ‘fast, ger. neu ‘new’, ger. innovativ ‘innovative’, eng. connected, eng. new, eng. advanced, etc.). The lexis that focuses attention away from the actual characteristics of the product is also important (e.g., words of foreign origin in German ger. online, ger. Apps, ger. Servicedienste ‘services, numerals ger. 4,9 Sekunden von 0 auf 100 km/h, eng. 44 g/km, abbreviations ger. LTE, ger. GLA, eng. HTRAC, eng. SUV).

3. Stylistic means serve mainly as an auxiliary tool to intensify lexical means and promote their better memorizing. The main stylistic means in both languages are metaphors (e.g., ger. Jagd mit Netz ‘Hunt with net, ger. die Eroberung der digitalen Welt the conquest of the digital world’, eng. keep your business on track, eng. „whisper“ diesels), hyperboles (e.g., ger. Nichts ist unmöglich ‘nothing is impossible’, eng. the absolute opposite of ordinary), antithesis (e.g., ger. Weniger Verbrauch. Mehr Fahrfreude. ‘Less consumption. More driving pleasure.’; eng. The inaccessible just became accessible). In English, the repetitions are also common (e.g., eng. Self-breaking. Self-correcting. Self-parking.; eng. The head says yes. The heart says definitely yes.).

4. At the syntactic level, incomplete sentences are used in both languages (e.g., ger. Schluss mit Einkaufs-Bummeln. ‘The end of the shopping on foot’; eng. A car designed to win hearts – and conquer the road.), and parceling is also commonly found in German advertisements (e.g. ger. Wir erfinden uns neu. Und die Zukunft. We reinvent ourselves. And the future.’; ger. Wir bewegen Menschen. In die Zukunft. We move people. In the future.). These linguistic phenomena emphasize lexical means used in a sentence that is divided or constructed in a peculiar way.

The prospects for the further research may include a comparative analysis of the features of advertising discourse in other languages, multimodal analysis of car advertising texts, as well as the analysis of the structural and communicative features of other tactics by which the strategy of manipulation is implemented.

References. 

References

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List of Sources

Esquire, Mar. 2017. Print

Der Spiegel, № 14, 2015. Print

Der Spiegel, № 15, 2015. Print

Der Spiegel, № 35, 2016. Print

NewStatesman, Nov. 2014. Print

NewStatesman, Dec. 2016. Print

The Economist, Oct. 2015. Print

Time, Dec. 2016. Print

 

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