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Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Three newspaper


Advertisements in Pakistan

Dilshad Fatima
Minjaj Internationl University, Lahore

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

Abstract
This is the study of three newspaper advertisements in Pakistan. This study focuses on
the discourse strategies of astrologic advertisements to persuade the readers in
Pakistani context. It analyses how the advertisers invoke superstitious beliefs of the
target audience by persuading them that they know the art of troubleshooting.
Advertisers' choice of words and the way they craft advertisements appeal to
particular audience and their belief system. Hallidays Systemic Functional
Linguistics (SFL) is used as a method of analysis and all the three modes
(metafunctions) of meaning textual, interpersonal and ideational or experiential- are
explored. The use of religious prayers and mediations acts make these advertisements
more effective and appealing for the readers.
Keywords: Astrological advertisement, Discourse, Systemic Functional
Linguistics (SFL)

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

Introduction
Islam is the main religion of Pakistan and it is governed not only by the peoples of the
country but also by the government as well. People have strong belief on their religion
and due to this characteristic many people are using them to believe in superstitious
acts. Nowadays a change has occurred in the teaching of Islam and people to get
involved in the superstitious acts to solve their problems even by hook and crook and
they have superstition-sustained belief in the power of different charms and prayers.
In the Pakistani context, astrological advertisements are prevalent in the wide range of
published media. Many researches have been done on the advertisement strategies in
Pakistan by none of these has been conducted on astrological advertisement. So this
study focuses on the linguistic analysis of the astrological advertisements in order to
see the use of language of the advertisers to persuade their target audience.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

LITERATURE REVIEW
Hallidays systemic functional grammar deals with how language organized, works
and what social functions are represented. Halliday invented his grammar approach
not only to deal with describing language but also has function for other forms of
meaning. In order to understand the functions of the language, Halliday proposed
three metafunctions in his approach. There are:
1. Ideational Metafunction
2. Interpersonal Metafunction
3. Textual Metafunction
Ideational metafunction
The ideational metafunction is expressing the way language involves in experience,
thought and feelings. This metafunction concerns with things, events or happenings
and also the circumstances which include to the element of happenings. Ideational
metafunction mostly influenced by Field of discourse. In order to represent things,
events and circumstance, people need these terms:
1. The processes which is going on
2. The participant which involved
3. The attributes of participant
4. The circumstances of events
The processes are divided into six types, there are:
1. Material Process
Material process has two process, process of doing and process of happening. The
first process is process of doing. In this process, a participant is called the actor, and
when the actor does something is called material process and the object which gets
the effect that could be something or someone is called goal. For example:
The Siberian Husky Dog

chased

a rabbit

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

The actor

Material process

Goal

Material process clauses can have a beneficiary besides actor and goal. For
example:
Peter Baelish

gave

Sansa Stark

a bouquet of rose

The actor

Material process

beneficiary

Goal

In the passive sentence, the actor can be expressed or not, depends on the context. The
prepositions by and with is indicates whether the actor is expressed or not. For
example:
The Wolf

was killed by

a hunter

last night

Goal

Material process

The actor

Circumstance of

The second process is process of happening. In this process, the goal usually cannot
be specified. This process shows something that happens. For example:
Her moods

often changes

during her period

The actor

Material process

Circumstance of

2. Relational Process
Relational processes are processes of being something. This process links other object
to another. A relational process with a clause may be used to say that something is an
attribute of something else (attributive type) or to identify something with something
else (identifying type).
The identifying type identifies something is exactly as same as another thing. For
example:
Cow and sheep

are

Livestock

Identified

Relational process

Identifier

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

Shaymin

is

a pokemon

Identified

Relational process

Identifier

Dianas special pancake

is made of

flour, egg, honey,milk, raspberry


syrup and butter

Identified

Relational process Identifier

The attributive type tells some information about something that being explained is a
member of class of things which have its own characteristic or set of characteristic.
For example:
To keep your room

is

A good thing

Carrier

Relational process

Attribute

Millianas

turns

spooky

Carrier

Relational process attribute

in night
Circumstances of

3. Mental Process
Mental process is a process which deals with feeling, thinking and perceiving process.
Terms of senser and phenomenon is used in this process for the participants. The
senser is the participant which do the feeling, thinking and perceiving while the
phenomenon is an abstract thing or material which is sensed, thought or perceived.
For example:
She

likes

her new goal of life

Senser

Mental process

Phenomenon

Danielle

thought

Ann was the culprit

Senser

Mental process

Phenomenon

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

Interpersonal Metafunction
The interpersonal meaning expresses judgments, assessments, gives people,
the relationship between texts and readers/viewers and the relationships within texts:
interpersonal [...] the grammar of personal participation; it expresses the speakers
role in the speech situation, his interaction with others (Halliday, 1977).
Interpersonal deals with the way language express the writers or speakers reaction
towards others and writers or speakers attitude towards a subject. This metafunction
needs communication between the speaker and the hearer also their responses to each
other. In communication with others, there are three different uses of language, the
first one is to exchange knowledge or information, the second one is to exchange
actions, services or goods, and the last one is to establish and maintain relation. When
analyzing a text using interpersonal metafunction, these questions might become a
help:
1. How does the text make the readers evaluate action or events in the text?
2. In what ways the readers can take role as the participants in the text?
3. How does perspective contribute making a relationship between the
participants in the text and the readers?
4. From what angle the participants viewed?
5. How are the readers led to adopt a particular interpretative stance in the text?
6. How is the attention of the reader/viewer captured? For instance, are keywords used?
Textual Metafunction
The textual meaning refers to the actual form of the text, the way it is organize;, it
deals with information management, resources and genres. Through the combination
of resources at different textual levels it allows ideas and attitudes about thematics,
actions and events to be expressed: textual [] concerned with the creation of text; it
expresses the structure of information and the relation of each part of the discourse to
the whole and to the setting (Halliday, 1977).

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

In textual metafunction, how a text is organized is expressed. Language is used to


organize experiential and interpersonal meanings into a linear and coherent whole.
This metafunction mostly influenced by the mode of discourse.

METHODOLOGY
In this paper three astrological advertisements are analyzed which are selected from
local Urdu newspapers. The researcher has translated all the advertisements into
English language to analyse the language with the help of Systemic Functional
Linguistics. All the three metafunction of meanings are explored in the terms of SFL.
The advertisements are categorised as:
Text
1
2

Title
Apendix
Astrologic Shah Muqeem
1
Sayyad Sada Hussain Shah 2

Bukhari
Peer Sayyad Muhammad 3
Hussain

Data analysis
Textual Analysis
Halliday and Matthiessen (2004: 64) describe that Theme is the element which serves
as the point of departure of the message; it is that which locates and orients the clause
within its context. The reminder of the message, the part in which the Theme is
developed, is called in the Rheme.
Theme-Rheme structure provides the speaker/writer with strategies for guiding the
listener/reader in interpreting of the text in terms of how text is organized, what is the
texts method of development. Therefore analysing the thematic structure of a text
clause by clause provides an insight view into text organization.
Textual Theme
The textual Theme is almost always the first part of the Theme, coming before any
interpersonal Theme. It gives thematic prominence to textual elements with a linking
function. Theme resources include;
(i)

Conjunction

(ii)

Relative pronoun

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

(iii)

Clause binder; this type of clauses not found in any of the selected
advertisement.

Conjunction
A conjunction is a word or group that either links or binds the clause to which it
connects message to the previous clause. Conjunctions thus indicate a conjunctive
relationship with previous discourse.
Text 1: Conjunction

anything is worrying you then don't wait for today rather ask us anything you
want to, right now.
Text3: Conjunction

The people who are worried due to offsprings and face obstacles in the marriages of
males and females or dont find a good marriage proposal for those Muhammad
Hussain Kasours marriage charms that work miraculously is only available center.
Relative pronouns
Relative pronouns link the clause in which they occur to another clause. They are
thematic in nature, and therefore they tend to occur in the initial position. Textually,
the relative elements serve as both structural textual Theme and experiential Theme.
Text1

If you are suffering from any king of worries or want of fulfill your desires which you
could not fulfill by trying your best.
Text2

We do as we say
Text3

There is not such a problem in the world which has no solution.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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The people who are worried due to offsprings and face obstacles in the marriages of
males and females or dont find a good marriage proposal for those Muhammad
Hussain Kasours marriage charms that work miraculously is only available center.
Interpersonal Theme
An interpersonal Theme foregrounds the speakers judgment or comments. It might
include one or more of the following components: Vocative; Wh-element; and Modal
Adjunct.
Vocative
A Vocative is used to directly address the listener, particularly in a dialogic passage. It
can be expressed by personal names, kinship terms, occupational terms or pronouns.
Text1

If you are suffering from any kind of worries


Text 3

Your one contact is enough to get rid of all the calamities and catastrophes
Modal Adjunct
A Modal Adjunct represents the speakers / writers judgment on, attitude toward, and
assessment of, the content of the message. Modal Adjuncts are used widely in all the
selected advertisements. Examples are given below.
Text 1

The greatest master of the great black magic powers

Voodooisitic studies and black magic are facts and so the life and death of a man (is
related to these knowledges.)
Text 2

See for yourself the charms (amulets) working against you


Text 3

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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Get solved all the worldly and spiritual problems from any place in the world

Experiential Theme
The topical (experiential) Theme includes elements serving a role in the transitivity
structure of the clause. It is the starting point from which experiences are unfolded
through time. It is the first element in the clause (i.e., the first group or phrase relevant
to the experimental function). These thematic elements include:
(i)

Participants (not found in the advertisements)

(ii)

Circumstances (not found in the advertisements)

(iii)

Processes

Processes
Process Theme is restricted to imperative clauses. That is, the imperative is the only
type of clause in which the Process (the verb) is regularly found as Theme. The
process Theme is expressed by a verbal group.
Text 1

Then contact us, considering it last hope, for surety solution in no time.
Text 2

See for yourself the charms (amulets) working against you


Text 3

Control the heart and soul of your beloved through the power of guardian angels



Get done your work with guarantee and confidentiality

Interpersonal Analysis
The interpersonal metafunction is a resource for enacting social roles and
relationships between speaker / writer and listener / reader (Matthiessen, 1995: 17).
MOOD is one of the main grammatical systems of exchange and negotiation.
Interpersonally, clause as exchange is the basic principle of the MOOD grammar:
MOOD is the basic resource for exchanging meaning in both dialogue and monologic
passages. It is the grammar of negotiation (Matthiessen, 2001: 3).

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Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

There are two fundamental semantic variables in an exchange the orientation of the
exchange and the commodity being exchanged. In turn, speech functional categories
are realized by different MOOD sections or choices.
According to Butt, et al (1995:13) The interpersonal metafunction uses language to
encode interaction and to show how defensible or binding we find our proposition or
proposal.

Structural Analysis
Text 1

If

You
Subject

are
Finite

suffering
predicate

Mood

from any worries


Adjunct
residue

Text 2

See
For yourself
Finite
Adjunct
Mood. Imperative

yourself the charms

working
predicate

against you
complement
residue

Text 3

Your
Subject
Mood

one

contact

is
enough
Finite/predicate complement
residue

Experiential Analysis
This section is concerned with the system of TRANSITIVITY of the astrological
advertisement. Matthiessen (1995: 194) characterizes

that the system of

TRANSITIVITY is resources for construing (interpreting and representing) human


experience of change or on-going-on in the flow of events inside and around us. A
quantum of change in the flow of events is construed as a configuration of a process,
participant involved, and attendant circumstances.
The transitivity system of language has been widely used nowadays to analyze the
language of speakers and writers. It studies the structure of sentences, which is
represented by processes (realized by types of verbs), the participants involved in
these processes (which are part of the nominal group), and the circumstances in which

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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they (participants and processes) are involved (realized by the adverbial and
propositional phrase).
Transitivity is expressed by using; process, participants and circumstances.
Process
Process, as the process of meaning, is characterized by its potential for organizing
participants into an experiential configuration. The Process constituent, the central
verb of the clause, can also be broken down into three separate elements and
described as Material, Relational and Projecting.

Table1.0: Process Types in the advertisements


So the analysis shows that material processes are use more frequently than any other
in all the advertisements. It means that the focus of the advertiser was on the
happenings and changing of situations. Advertisement 1 and 2 has more verbs
related to mental process which indicate that they approach to the mental flexibility of
the audience. And they try to control over the mind of the people by using such
techniques which evoke their mental condition and emotions. They also make them to
think by the cognitive abilities. Relational process indicates that advertisers have
ability to solve the problems of the people and they described certain facts as well.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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Conclusion
This paper analyses the language of three astrologic advertisements from the local
newspapers of Pakistan. The purpose of the advertisers is to solve the problems of the
people by using certain charms related to Islamic religion or black magic as well (see
appendix 1). There are certain things which are common in all the advertisements
like:
1. Expert in the filed
2. Solution of the problems related to: love marriage, problems related to
husband and wife, obstacles in marriage proposals and any other problems
3. 100% Guarantee to solve the problem
4. Confidentiality
5. Removing of any charms
So this type of things makes their advertisement affective for the audience and people
of get rid of their problems go to them to get solve their troubles even to the expert in
black magic.
These advertisements are analyzed by Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and all
the three metafunctions are explored;
Textual analysis of the study shows that the advertisers used all the three themes of
the textual metafunction: Conjunctions, relative pronoun, vocative and processes are
used to make their text attractive.
Interpersonal analysis of the advertisements indicates that advertisers use declarative
and imperative sentences as well because they are providing information to the
audience and their focus is on the audience that is the reason they interact to the
readers and address them.
Experiential analysis reveals that the amulet advertisement is construed by different
text types. The text involves its various participants in different participant roles
associated with different process types. The clear frequency of material processes
suggests that this amulet advertisement is largely concerned with actions and events.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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In terms of field contextual value, advertising text is conveyed to a mass audience


with an ultimate aim to promote and persuade customer to purchase goods-andservices; in fact, the function of advertising is to present product features, product
functions, and evaluations of the products.

WORKS CITED
Halliday, M.A.K. (1977): Text as semantic choice in social contexts. In T. A. van
Dijk and Jonoss Petofi, eds., Grammars and Descriptions: Studies in Text
Theory and Text Analysis. Berlin: Walter de Grugter, 176-225.
_______. (2004): An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M.A.K. and Ruquiya Hasan (1985): Language, Context, and Text:
Aspects of Language in Social-semiotic Perspective. Geelong, Victoria:
Deakin University Press.
Imperiani, E.D.A. 2014. SYSTEMIC FUNCTIONAL LINGUISTICS (Hallidays
Functional Grammar) [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from Edmodo: Schools
of Linguistics-IG 567:
https://www.edmodo.com/file?
id=ef05ba53fcb59435eb38bb3ae21aec27&folder_id=2792025
Leech, Geoffrey (1966): English in advertising. London: Longman.
Matthiessen, Christian M.I.M. (2004): Frequency profiles of some basic grammatical
systems: an interim report. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson, eds., System and
Corpus: Exploring Connections. London: Equinox. (Paper presented at The 29
Systemic Functional th Linguistics Congress: Systemic Linguistics and the
Corpus at The University of Liverpool, 15-19 July 2002.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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Appendix 1

Yellow - Processes
Blue Transitive/Intransitive verbs
Red Agent/Acted upon
1. The magnificent master of the greatest black magic powers.
2. All the problems are solved (material) through the charms of Hanuman, Kalkan
Shiv Shankar and many others Dutas.
3. If you are suffering (mental) from any king of worries or want (mental) to fulfill
(material) your desires which you could not fulfill (material) by trying your best.
4. A message of joy for the despaired (mental) and hopeless people
5. Voodooisitic studies and black magic are (relational) facts and so the life and death
of a man is (relational) related to these knowledge.
6. The people who has become (material) despair and hopeless from false promises of
claimants.
7. If anything is worrying (mental) you, then don't wait (behavioural) for today and
ask (material) us anything you want (mental) to, right now.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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8. We give (behavioural) 100% guarantee and confidentiality. Knowledge is


(relational) that which affects (material) across the seven rivers.
9. If you have (relational) problems regarding; marriage, love affairs, family disputes,
friendship, rivalry, effect of charms or any other thing,
10. Then contact (material) us, considering (mental) it last hope, for surety solution in
no time.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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Appendix 2

Yellow - Processes
Blue Transitive/Intransitive verbs
Red Agent/Acted upon
1. Prayer opens (material) the doors of blessings
2. The master of removing (material) and returning (material) of black magic
3. Get solved (material) your problems at home in the name of Allah
No claim, No challenge, No completion and reward
4. We do (material) as we say (verbal), your problems regarding; love, marriage, to
repress husband or wife, marriage hurdles, business obstacles (is solved (material))
5. Every work (is (relational) done) with confidentiality.
6. See (mental) for yourself the charms working against you.

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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Appendix 3

Yellow - Processes
Blue Transitive/Intransitive verbs
Red Agent/Acted upon
1. There is (existential) not such a problem in the world which has (relational) no
solution.
2. Control (mental) the heart and soul of your beloved through the power of guardian
angels
3. Get solved (material) all the worldly and spiritual problems from any place in the
world
4. Displeased (people) will shake (material) hands.
5. Separated will meet (material).
6. The marriage proposal will come (material) from your choice.
7. The one who amends (material) broken hearts.
Business troubles, business obstacles and the flop of running business
8. No work is done (material) without payment/donation.
9. The people who are worried (mental) due to offsprings and face (mental) obstacles
in the marriages of males and females or dont find (mental) a good marriage proposal

Systemic Functional Linguistics of Advertisements

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for those Muhammad Hussain Kasors marriage charms that work (material)
miraculously is (existential) only available.
10. Performative (material) act.
11. Proposal (will come (material)) from good possession.
12. Istikhara (asking Allah to help one make a choice) which is based (mental) on
reality.
13. To get (material) rid of all the calamities and catastrophes, your one contact is
(relational) enough,
14. Get done (material) you work with guarantee and confidentiality.

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