Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Kognitive Sprachforschung

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Abstract Chang

From metaphor to poetic effects in persuasive discourse

This paper aims to explore the dialogic relations between form and function of metaphorical use and poetic effects in Chinese advertising discourse. The repetition and parallelism of metaphor are creatively crafted and vastly employed within the captions to attract the audience's attention, to initiate cognitive poetic effects and advertising literariness, to perform diverse communicative functions thereafter, and to convey the significant and dominant ideologies in urban contexts. Placing quite little emphasis on the target commodity, they encourage an imaginative audience to spell out a variety of weak implicatures along these lines, fairly invisibly persuading her to recognise the prominent inter-/cultural values and to construct the identity of cultural pluralism. Poetic metaphors typically communicate many weak implicatures. The richer and the more creative the metaphor displays, the greater the range of implicatures it communicates (Pilkington 1992: 41).

The audience's comprehension and interpretation in media communication are approached within Relevance Theory (Sperber & Wilson 1986/1995; Noveck & Sperber 2006), intending to render plausible explanations to the questions: What cognitive effects could be perceived and inferred by (different) receptors through the rhetorical strategies exploited in institutionalised discourse/specialised communication? What is the social meaning accompanying or behind language use? What competing ideologies and changing cultural values can be seen from advertising discourse, and further to shape social cognition? How will the audience construct their cultural understanding through popular culture, e.g. advertising? In Relevance, Sperber & Wilson mainly discussed the examples from word/phrase and sentence levels. While as Blakemore (1992: 165-6) analysed the example of irony, "irony is not always restricted to a couple of lines or a single utterance. In many cases it extends over a whole poem or story…" the ironical effects are achieved through processing a whole text or, a level of global organisation—macrostructure (cf. van Dijk 1977: 130). Since the data for analysis are longer texts that I applied RT to analyse those larger units, from macrostructure viewpoint to see the optimal relevance reached by the audience, though they do not generate irony.

As shown in the study, the addresser intended to evoke the audience's emotions, the affective dimension to poetic effects, which is associated with weak implicature in the RT account: "What look like non-propositional effects associated with the expression of attitudes, feelings, and states of mind can be approached in terms of the notion of weak implicature…" (Sperber & Wilson 1995: 222; Pilkington 1992: 45). The dialogic relations between form and function in advertising discourse reflect the social interaction and cognitive dynamics of communicator and audience, and thus maintaining the dialectical relationship between sociocultural structures and social practice/discourse (Fairclough 1995, 2001).