A Linguistic (Critical Discourse) Analysis of Consumer Products’ Advertising in Nigeria

Oyedokun Alli, Wasiu Ademola


Language is the chief means by which humans communicate among themselves; it is also a veritable means of socialisation. In essence, language is an important arsenal used to influence others around us. Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddie (2011) assert that “the impact of what and how we communicate can be very profound for others”. This paper examines the use of language in the advertising industry and posits that in advertising, not only is language used to inform or sensitize, but it is also used to deceive. Language has immense power, and its impact depends entirely on how we wield it. Advertising has a great influence on our purchasing decisions. Consumers are exposed to countless commercial messages everyday “persuading them to buy brand name products”. This is achieved through certain contrivances, which the paper fully discusses. The searchlight of this paper beams on such questions as: does advertising tempt us into buying things we don’t need; does it affect us subliminally in ways we can’t control; how much latitude should marketers have in the kind of products they promote and how they advertise them; do consumers have some responsibilities in the process; what is the proper role of government, especially in protecting the consumers? In sum, the paper sets for itself the task of determining the “border line” between persuasion and deception, in the language of advertisement. It finds that through the subtle means of “appealing” and “persuading, certain deceptive contrivances and even outright falsehood are sued to hoodwink the consumer. The implications are that consumers are “tricked” to buy what they don’t really need; advertisers “overstretch” claim on their products and services; and, finally the advertising, not the product itself, becomes the selling point. It also recommends among others that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Advertisement Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria and such other regulatory agencies should be empowered to verify all claims in advertisements before such claims are published.


Language, Advertising, Persuasion, Deception, Linguistic, Critical Discourse, Analysis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.10n.2p.159


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