Imperatives in Advertisements: A Study of Politeness Strategies in a Persuasive Genre



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The aim of this research project is to evaluate why the use of direct language, imperatives specifically, in printed advertisements would be considered appropriate when they blatantly meet Leech’s (2014) description of the strongest face threatening act and are therefore deemed impolite. I will also evaluate if the regularity of imperatives has shifted in the history of printed advertisements. In order to investigate this usage, I analyze the advertisements in the 1940 January through March, 1960 January through February, 1980 January, 2000 January, as well as the 2016 January through September issues of Vogue magazine. Data were collected regarding the number of ads, the number of ads with full sentence written components, and the number of ads using imperatives in order to quantify any change. Building on the research of Zjakic, Han, & Liu (2017) and Simon, & Dejica-Cartis (2015), I analyze the imperatives for both the syntactic context and the surrounding materials. Also, following the research of Harris (2001) I inquire as to justification of directness within the genre of advertising. The results of this study show whether, over time, advertisements, as a genre, are not restricted by the same politeness expectations of other genres, or if various additional politeness techniques are invoked to reduce the face threat of the imperatives.



Advertisements, Commands, Directness, Imperatives, Impoliteness