Abstract. This research extends the theories and ways of linguistic pragmatics (Austin, Grice, Searle, Sperber, and Wilson) into the analysis of visual advertising imagery. It stretches and revises the strategy pioneered in semiology/semiotics by Roland Barthes. Much of the literature I cite in this present essay, appeared only quickly before Barthes died but Barthes understood it or knew from it. He co-edited Communications 30 (1979), where both a French translation of Grice 1975 and the Sperber and Wilson article which I also make some use appeared. Elles relevant de cette partie de la semiologie, longtemps delaissee, qu’on appelle, a la suite des auteurs anglo-saxons, la pragmatique’ (Barthes and Berthet 1979, p.4).

I don’t believe that what I am doing in this paper is a rest with the type of work he pioneered, and that everyone working in the communication and mass media studies has learned and can continue steadily to learn. Anyone who reads this essay will routinelyaccomplish the identification, understanding and criticism of advertisements encountered while watching TV, listening to radio, sitting in the cinema, reading a magazine, walking past billboards, and so forth.

In this article I offer an analysis of some neglected conditions of possibility of this regular fulfillment. Specifically, they tend to disregard those conditions of probability which distinguish cases of speech or utterances (parole) and their comprehension from the, or a vocabulary (langue), to recall the Sausurrean difference (Saussure 1959; Barthes 1964b, Ch.

For any activity X which humans accomplish, Kantian questions of the form, ‘How is X possible?’ can be asked. Philosophers differ as to whether answers to such questions should identify necessary, necessary and sufficient, or sufficient conditions just. I have already been affected by Sloman 1978 ch (especially. But because I shall sometimes be arguing that sociological and structuralist analyses are insufficient to take into account our understanding of advertisements, what I offer in their place will often read like a statement of necessary conditions.

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At this stage of things, it could very well be not important to stay this issue concerning get on with providing an alternative solution framework to that now dominant in press and communication studies. The status of this substitute framework will come up for discussion on another occasion. A model for what is involved in this kind of productive activity is provided by Schank and Abelson’s theory of script based understanding. No doubt for the reason that id of advertisements is very easy and ‘automated’ that its mechanisms are overlooked in many analyses. That is a state I try to substantiate within the next two areas.

To this set of activity types I am now adding advertising. Now it is clearly the full case that each of us knows different things about any given activity type, and that on different occasions, different bits of our knowledge are seen. It is often argued that a text message or image must have certain ‘formal’ properties in order to count number as belonging to a specific genre – say, limerick or haiku.