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The Discourse of Classified Advertising: Exploring the Nature of Linguistic Simplicity / Edition 1

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Overview

Linguists who have studied simplified varieties of a given language, such as pidgins or the language of care-givers, have tended to explain similarities in their structure by the fact that they use the same mechanisms of simplification. Bruthiaux tests this idea by looking at the structure of classified ads in American English, using a body of 800 ads from four categories: automobile sales, apartments for rent, help wanted, and personal ads.

Bruthiaux's thesis is that strict, uniform constraints on space should result in uniformly simple texts, no matter which category they are in, and that any variation would be due to the particular needs of each category. To prove this he describes the linguistic structure of classified ads, and shows that they are characterized by a minimal degree of morphosyntactic elaboration. He then examines aspects of their conventions to highlight the role of pre-patterned and prefabricated segments whose collocational rigidity may force the inclusion of otherwise dispensable items. He finds that there is indeed significant variation across ad categories in terms of morphosyntactic elaboration, and concludes that this is due to a greater or lesser need to be explicit, as well as a greater or lesser anticipation of interaction. Finally, he examines the implications of these findings for the study of linguistic simplification and register variation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a welcome contribution to liguistic discussion. It is clearly organized, has a very useful survey of work done in the field, and presents a thorough analysis of the corpus....a valuable contribution to the discussion of fundamental linguistic issues. Its argument is sound, and it competently fills a gap in the small number of register studies which exist."—Language in Society
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Product Details

Meet the Author

University of Southern California
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Table of Contents

1 Theoretical issues 3
2 Situating the corpus 23
3 Syntactic elaboration 39
4 Conventionalization 90
5 Functional variation 132
6 Classified advertising in its linguistic context 160
Appendix A: Summary of features of linguistic simplication 177
Appendix B: Corpus selection criteria 178
Appendix C: Glossary of abbreviations 180
Appendix D: Test of editorial interference in Recycler ads 184
Notes 187
References 193
Index 204
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