Semantic Elements Used in health product advert in Igbo

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

The chief use of language is for communication, and to communicate means to pass a message or messages from the speaker/writer to the hearer/reader. This boils down to saying that in the process of communication, the speaker/writer encodes meanings while the listener/reader decodes and interprets the same meaning. It is only when these are successfully done that language will be said to have been effectively used and communication to have taken place. Thus, meaning and interpretation are very keen in all contexts in which language is used.

The study of meaning and interpretation in language is done at two levels of linguistic analysis semantics and pragmatics. While semantics takes care of tangible meaning/interpretation in language  that is, meaning derivable from the elements used in expression – pragmatics deals with intangible meaning, which derives from external factors other than the physical linguistic elements used in expressions. In other words, while semantics studies meaning base on what is actually said or written, pragmatics studies meaning based on what is intended but not spoken or written. This study focuses on how the enterprises of meaning are utilized in health product advert communication in Igbo. We will, however, restrict our inquiry to semantics only.

Advertisement is the non-personal communication of information usually persuasive in nature about products, services or idea identified sponsors, through the various media. The concise oxford dictionary sees ‘advertising’ as the action of drawing attention to something. This then tells us that advertisement basically deals with communicating with the aim of getting informed and getting responses from the public.

In Nigeria, as it is elsewhere in the world today, makers of goods and services use advertisement to woo patronage to their products. This has become necessary due to the competitions that exist among similar products and service , and also their substitutes. Due to the economic situation in the country, buyers needs to be careful in spending their money, to ensure they maximize what their money can afford them. In other words, advertisement serves as a channel of information for various products, in terms of quality and their edges over others.

In advertising, information is provided on a particular product, as such, advertising is considered as a communicative function. In turn, as a communicative function, the importance of words and meanings must be recognized in the context. In fact words that are used in advertising sell more than the products that they sell. The words semantically conveys the image, values, goals and concepts of the product, they images created conveys unspoken messages. We can say that without semantics (meaning), communication cannot be established.

In this studies, we seek to provide answer to the questions, how does the communication art of advertisement draw from the linguistics field of semantics in trying to curry patronage of the masses ?

 1.2.     Statement of the Problem

This research considers the concept of meaning as being central to communication because it stimulates the internal psychological processes of human to be able to dictate what the message is all about. Semantics is very important in any type of communication thus, meaning cannot be studied in isolation without reference to language (codes and signs) employed in communication and the abstract images created outside they linguistic code and signs.

In Health, the presence of too many products in the market often makes the consumers not to know the ones best for them or good enough to solve their health problems. This is more so considering how coated they sugar the tongues of advertisers of health products have become. This work seeks to help the public in this regard.

Again, in advertisement, the problem of not knowing how consumers will perceive and interpret their message and how their reactions will shape these responses towards the products stares they advertisers in the face. Marketers/advertisers need to understand the semantic, pragmatic and psycholinguistic effect of words and phrases they employ to be able to touch the emotion of the consumers and influence them to patronize their products. The two major problems from the foregoing are.

  • How to equip the consumers with the necessary knowledge with which to look beyond the sugar- coated words of adverts to make informed choice of health products,
  • How to equip the advertisers with the necessary semantic tools for encoding the values and advantages of their products and be sure that the consumers would understand them the same way. This study aims at providing solutions to those problems.

1.3.      Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this research include:

The general objectives of this study is to highlight the semantic elements in health product advert in Igbo and bring fore how it affects the average advertisement target audience. Pursuant to this, the study specifically seeks to:

  1. Identify the semantic properties of the expressions employed by health product advertisers to persuade consumer to patronize their products.
  2. Highlight the semantic advantages of advertising in Igbo.
  3. Identify the semantic problems of product advertising in Igbo.

The language of advertisement studied is limited to Igbo. In other words, only Health product adverts run in the Igbo language are considered.

Due to constraints of time and space and short supply of other necessary resources and logistics, this study does not look at adverts of other products than those pertaining to health. It does not also consider adverts in any other language but Igbo.

1.4.      Research Questions

Following the above objectives, the following questions are formulated to guide this research:

  1. What are the semantic elements used in health product advert in Igbo?
  2. To what extent and in what ways can advertising health products in Igbo be said to have semantic and pragmatic advantages over the use of English and other languages?
  3. What are the semantic problems associated with health product advert in Igbo?

1.5.      Significance of the Study

The significance of this research project are numerous.

First, it brings to light the importance of semantics and pragmatics in product advertisement, which is of benefit to both advertisers and consumers. It brings the advertisers to the consciousness that the choices of words and phrase they make, and the way they used are capable of making or marring their messages. To the consumers, they are exposed to the manipulative semantics and pragmatics of advertisers of health product.

Second, the study draws attention to the untapped advantages of advertising in Igbo. This in a way, will help fortify the Igbo language in terms of usage.

Generally, the information in this study and the findings made are modest contributions to knowledge in linguistics, communication and advertisement worlds.

1.6.      Scope and Delimitation

This work is limited to examining semantic elements and strategies in health product adverts. The work draws its data from the electronic and print media, such as radio, television, posters as well as other means of advertisement like magazines and billboards etc.

The language of advertisement studied is limited to Igbo. In other words, only health product adverts run in the Igbo language are considered.

Due to constraints of time and space and short supply of other necessary resources and logistics, this study does not look at advert of other products than those pertaining to health. It does not also consider advert in any other language but Igbo.

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