Study the language of home shopping channels

For my investigation I have chosen to study the language of home shopping channels. I chose this topic because I thought it would be interesting to investigate the discourse of this persuasive language, as such channels represent a growth area in British television. However to make this method of shopping effective the presenter needs to go into great detail in order to describe the product to its full potential as the audience will know what the product is really like as they can not physically touch it. The presenter aims to obscure the fact that the text is monologic and tries to make it like dialogue.

She does this by trying to create solidarity with the audience by using a number of techniques as for example the use of personal pronouns and creating that idea of a group definition. To add prestige and worth to the product she makes reference to royalty. She uses sales talk and collocates to add coherence but most importantly she uses sales talk as a means of persuasion. Aim The aim of my investigation is to examine how the presenter uses persuasive techniques in order to influence the audience to buy the products. The main topics I will be looking at are:

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Description of the products * Generic features of discourse I expect the features I will find are quite typical of this type of discourse. It will also be interesting to find out the presenter’s technique to create solidarity with the audience. Methodology To carry out my investigation I recorded a short segment of a jewellery product programme of QVC shopping channel. The presenter is selling women’s jewellery, which means the target audience will be predominately women. The advert consists of one presenter who is talking to a non co-present audience.

I did not find it hard to transcribe my data as the presenter spoke in clear Standard English. On an ethical level as subscription is paid for problems with informed consent are not applicable. 1) Description of product The presenter uses a variety of persuasive techniques in order to describe the product to its full potential. Throughout the programme she uses a variety of qualitative adjectives to add descriptive variation to the products she is trying to sell, often using repetition as an emphatic device. At times this repetition suggests an idiolectical variety within her discourse.

As the product is women’s jewellery, many of these adjectives have a ‘feminine’ quality. Qualitative adjectives Line 3: ‘Isn’t that beautiful? ‘ Here she uses an interrogative, (almost a known answer question) which invites the audience’s response and works as a device to interact with the audience. This is typical of the monologic nature of the discourse (Montgomery) as the presenter uses a number of different techniques to suggest that the discourse is dialogic. Line 6-7: ‘You are getting the chain as well, 18 inches in length and it is like that beautiful Prince of Wales chain… ‘

Line 42-43: ‘Have a look at that beautiful swirl that you’ve got to the top of the earring’ The repetition of the adjective ‘beautiful’ and the use of numeral adjective to emphasise its length, and the comparison of the chain with the ‘Prince of Wales’ chain adds prestige. Again, the presenter directly addresses the audience who are not co-present, with the 2nd person ‘you’. The repetition of ‘beautiful’ here suggests that this may be an idiosyncrasy of her speech. The directive ‘Have a look’ in the second utterance also suggests dialogic discourse, and the direct address furthers this.

Line 20-21: ‘… your favourite chains that you do have at home very very pretty indeed’ Line 23-25: ‘you can see that swirl of silver down to the centre of the heart, very very pretty indeed’ Here the repeated use of the intensifier ‘very’ and the selection of the ‘feminine’ adjective ‘pretty’ reinforce the effect of the description. Line 80-82: ‘some people er visiting QVC and what (1. 0) they they were actually passing my dressing room and I just think must sound very very strange if you just sortta…

She uses emphasis to help her to convey her personal experience to the audience. This could also suggest that this is part of her idiolect as she uses the intensifier ‘very very’ when she is describing the products too. Line 94-96: ‘look whether it be with bracelets and or even leading up chains around the neck line here we’re seeing a wonderful set here’ Line 72-73: ‘we’re not talking er an amazing drop here we’re not talking’ The almost hyperbolic choice of ‘wonderful’ and ‘amazing’ are typical of persuasive discourse of this sort.

It is interesting that the presenter more typically chooses the less exaggerated ‘pretty’ and beautiful’ more frequently, but intensifies her description with details (of ‘swirls’ or length). Line 41: ‘They’re brand new today’ She uses the adjective ‘new’, which according to Ogilvy is amongst one of the most powerful adjectives to use in order to attract attention. All the modifiers that the presenter uses all create a positive image but without really telling the audience anything about the product. By combining adjectives with nouns, adverbs and verb modifiers, the presenter can convey a sense of a product’s uniqueness.

Comparatives and superlatives Perhaps unsurprisingly, the presenter also frequently uses comparatives and superlatives in a way of comparing a series of products, and to establish the quality offered by QVC. Line 8-11: ‘Now you could go into some of the most competitive jewellery stores in the high street and even just looking for perhaps a plain silver chain, you know you could be paying 6, 7, 8, 9 pounds’ Here she uses a superlative and informs the audience that the prices given by QVC are the best and lowest, by deliberately comparing their products with the prosaic ‘plain, silver chains’ available elsewhere.

Also the superlative reinforces the idea that this product is superior to others. Line 47-50: ‘… of course because silver is so much more readily available and thus so much more affordable it means that we can choose styles and designs and be a little bit more generous with that precious metal’ Here the presenter uses the comparative method. She uses intensifiers ‘much’ and ‘a little’ for emphasis and reinforcement, and syntactical parallelism as a form of cohesion and sound patterning to make her utterance more memorable and pleasing to the audience.

Throughout the data she uses very limited qualitative adjectives and comparatives. However she does go into the description of the product in detail. She describes the products by going into detail in the way they are shaped ‘pinched heart’, ‘slightly angular’, ‘(inaudible) veil’, ‘swirl of silver’ etc. This substitutes her limited use of qualitative adjectives and comparatives and makes the product sound just as attractive as it would if she were to use more comparatives and adjectives. Field Specific Lexis Throughout the text the presenter uses words related to jewellery and chains.

The subject specific lexis provides the technical background, which enables the viewer to know that the presenter is an expert. Some of these examples are ‘diamond-ink-styling silver’. Here she coins a compound noun, which is a neologism, which in actual fact is a nonsense word (Crystal). The word ‘diamond’ will hold more prestige to the product and this will work as a form of persuasion. In his book ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’, David Ogilvy notes that neologism makes an impact upon the audience and makes them want to buy the product being advertised. Another example is, ‘Prince of Wales chain’.

Here she uses reference to royalty again adding importance and worth to the product. The presenter is also trying to convince the audience that buying the product they will be more prestigious. Other examples are ‘pendant’, ‘white gold’, ‘heart cut stone’, and ‘two carats’. This last utterance could suggest that the real connotation is her choice of words. She could be using these words to add to the description and the worth of the product. Because she wants to attract attention she uses innovative language. She coins new words to make the products more memorable.

Lexical choice is crucial to the effect an advertisement will have since it helps not only to sell the product but also create a relationship with the audience. Sales Talk She uses sales talk as a persuasive technique and fulfils the function of advertising, which is to persuade (connotative function) and also suggest to the audience on how they could use the products. This could be a subordinate function, which is to provide information (referential function). Line 19-20: ‘accommodate a variety of those types of chains, so you could mix and match this with any of your favourite chains’

Here the presenter uses a more sophisticated language of sales as the word ‘accommodate’ suggests. She also uses fashion collocates ‘mix and match’ which grabs attention and adds interest to the description of the product. Line 48-49: ‘it means that we can choose styles and designs’ Again in this utterance she use collocates ‘styles and designs’ associated with fashion. She uses the first person plural ‘we’, which adds to the sense of group definition, as the audience will feel included in the programme. The presenter is trying to convince the viewers that by buying the products they will be more stylish.

Sales talk is an important part of the discourse as that way she will be convincing to the audience and most importantly she will convey her purpose. Evidently the text is purpose driven and sales talk achieves this explicitly in this context. The presenter is acting like a professional and plays as someone who knows about jewellery and its worth. She also informs the audience that the prices given by QVC are of the most competitive prices. Line 46-47: ‘amount of gold that you’re you know you’re getting for these highly competitive prices’ She achieves this role by using quasi-technical words like ‘swirl’, which makes her sound erudite.