Dzyuba А.V. Subject-Oriented Classification of Puns Used in Spanish-Speaking Advertisements


Aleksandr V. Dzyuba

Lecturer, Department of Ibero-American Philology and Communication Studies, Southern Federal University

Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 105, 344006 Rostov-on-Don, Russia

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Abstract. While analyzing wordplay in advertisements, researchers tend to focus on formal classifications. One of the few modern groupings that diverge from this formal approach is the typology made within the framework of Relevance Theory. This paper provides new classification based on the subject of punning. The comprehensive analysis of 609 slogans reveal three types of wordplay used in Spanish-speaking advertising discourse: merchandise (goods) wordplay, brand (trademark) wordplay and unlinked wordplay. Using merchandise puns, copywriters play with the names of products. Also, these types of puns exploit ambiguous words and the associations which already exist in the minds of the target audience, e.g. comida (food) – rico (rich / tasty). Thanks to the merchandise wordplay, recipients can deduce what is advertised without having the explicit product names in the slogans. Brand wordplay uses lexemes chosen for the trademark or associations produced by such lexeme, e.g. vine brand Bach is associated with music, and therefore, copywriters introduce music allusions in slogans. This method helps to memorize a brand-name and make it stand out. The last type of wordplay, unlinked puns, have no connections with brand-names or goods and is often present in a less creative way of playing on words. The main aim of the unlinked wordplay is to entertain the target audience. A quantitative analysis shows that merchandise wordplay occurs in the majority of cases and unlinked wordplay is the least popular type. Such distribution may be caused by different cognitive-pragmatic potential of wordplay types as hypothesized in current research.

Key words: wordplay, puns, advertising, Spanish language, classification, cognitive-pragmatic potential, relevance theory.

Citation. Dzyuba А.V. Subject-Oriented Classification of Puns Used in Spanish-Speaking Advertisements. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 2, Yazykoznanie [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. Linguistics], 2018, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 107-115. (in Russian). DOI:

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Subject-Oriented Classification of Puns Used in Spanish-Speaking Advertisements by Dzyuba А.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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