Phraseological Unit Transformations In Russian Magazine Advertisement


In Russia there is a great variety of magazines: socio-political, fashion, culinary, sports, child-rearing, scientific, etc. Different types of magazines convey information in a number of ways, possess a unique style and locate issue-related advertising. Therefore we consider the analysis Russian periodicals being of great current interest. People from different countries have diverse worldviews due to some peculiarities of their mentality. Perceiving advertisement isn’t an exception. That’s why it is necessary to take into account the following aspects of different cultures while conducting international advertising campaigns: а) a person’s behavioural signals; b) artistic devices of verbal and visual advertising constituents; c) cultural images and symbols; d) social symbolism. In order to provoke a positive attitude from the side of the purchaser and stimulate him to buy the advertised product ethnocultural factors are to be considered in the advertisement. The most common method in the modern Russian magazine advertising texts is phraseological unit (PU) transformation. Phraseological unit transformation is unusual, devoid of automat ismusage of PU with a modified form and contents. Transformed phraseological units help to create a brighter and more effective advertising text in periodicals. A set expression acquires an additional meaning included by the author and due to the actualization PE becomes an organic part of the advertising text. Transformations of phraseological units is a perfect way of improving ratings of advertised services or goods.

Keywords: Advertisementtextsyntactic transformationlexical transformationphraseological unitcontamination


As it is commonly known language has a social nature. It means that it is influenced by the native speakers. Being a primary and most necessary basis of the society, it reflects national peculiarities of each nation, its culture and social order. One of the brightest manifestation of uniqueness and ethnic peculiarity of the language are phraseological units which illustrate the way of life, history, traditions of the society. The interest to phraseology as asphere of linguistics, that is a rich source of cultural linguistic knowledge about history, culture, traditions and daily routines of different nations, stimulates the active development of such linguistic research as comparative phraseology (Berdishev, 2015, Gak, 2018; Krivonosov, 2016) cognitive phraseology and ideological phraseology (Telya, 2015). Besides, semantics of phraseological units and common patterns of their occurrence in the utterances are of great interest. This is connected with a general tendency – the development of language synthesis model.

The appearance of printed advertisement is connected with the invention of book-printing and booksellers took an advantage of this in order to distribute some information concerning their own books in early XV century. But advertising wasn’t a mass phenomenon till the XIX century as its main producers, craftsmen, didn’t issue a great amount of similar goods. Theappearanceofmodernadvertisingagenciesalongsidewiththeindustrialrevolutionof the XIX century encouraged the development of advertising services market. Also, such a notion as ‘advertising’ became in separable of the majority of periodical publications. In the XXI century advertising has become an integral part of the modern life. It is a vital component of the modern mass media, the economy of the country as well as mass media and the society itself greatly depend on advertising.

Advertising belongs to manipulative communication the purpose of which is to induce a person to behave in a definite way, to carry out some actions and not to do other things. ‘Advertising text’ as distinct from ‘advertising’ hasn’t acquired an exact definition. This term has quite a wide sense as a set of semantic components in the texts are rather varied. Nowadays advertising is categorized according to the way of influence the consumer (emotional and rational); to the mode of expression (‘soft’ and ‘rough’); to its purposes ( ‘image’ one that stimulates, advertising of stability, on-site advertising, advertising with the purpose of increased sales, persuasive advertising, comparative, reminder, reinforcement, informing and preventive advertising). It has become popular to subdivide all the advertisements into two types due to the possibility of the feedback with the consumer. The first group deals with ‘ all advertising types that require an immediate, usually person if ied addresseewithitspossiblefeedback'; the second group doesn’t stipulate for feedback; all the mass media are in this group including electronic media and all the types of outdoor advertising. It goes without saying that a language greatly influences readers and listeners. To achieve them a in goal of the advertising text (to draw potential consumers’ attention to the advertised goods or services) various language means are used: phonetic, lexical, grammatical, syntactic. They are employed to make a text more emotional, to make the process of learning the text easier and to create a positive image of the advertised product. That’s why the authors of advertisement use diversestylistic devices in order to create a sensual image and to persuade people to buy this thing. And advertisement becomes an instrument of persuasion. We study advertising again and again as we want to understand how the advertising text influences the potential consumer.

Problem Statement

The topicality of this research is determined by an intense interest of linguists to the phraseological units from the position of linguocultural approach. In the paper under consideration we analyze the phraseological units in the advertising text of all kinds in the Russian glossy magazines.

Research Questions

1. Does an advertised texting loss ymagazines have such universal features as structural properties, briefness, significance, uniqueness of denotatum showing the connection with an advertised service or product?

2. Isittruethatinthephraseologicalworldviewculture-specificpeculiaritiesofrealityperceptionareprofoundly reflected in the Russian advertising texts?

3.Is it possible to unveil the cultural connotation and identify culture-specific peculiarities which are characteristic only of Russian advertising texts?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the work under consideration is to study phraseological units in order to identify national-bound peculiarities of the Russian language.

Research Methods

In the current research we employ both general scientific (classification, description, modelling) and some methods of modern linguistics (lexico-semantic and linguocultural analyses).


Printed advertising appeared in the XV century, but it wasn’t widespread as craftsmen didn’t produce large amounts of homogeneous goods. The industrial revolution of the 19thcenturystimulated the advertising market.

V.V. Uchenova and N.V. Starikh studied the etymologyof a term ‘advertisement’ and found out that this word was derived from Latin ‘reclamare’ which meant ‘to shout’, ‘to cry’. This verb reflects the period of oral advertising (Uchenova&Starikh, 2014, p. 28).

The notion ‘advertised text’ as distinct from such notion as ‘advertising’ doesn’t have a clear definition as yet. This term is used in a broad meaning. The definition suggested by A.D. Krivonosov gives a detailed characteristic of the advertising text: ‘Advertising text is a text that contains some advertising information. It has the following distinctive features: firstly, it has some data about aprivate individual oral egalentity; about goods, ideas and initiatives; secondly, it is aimed at an indefinite scope of people; thirdly, it is intended to form and sustain interest to a personal individual, a legal entity, goods, ideas and initiatives; and, fourthly, it helps to promote goods, ideas, initiatives (Krivinosov, 2016, p.13-14). 

S.N. Berdishev defines the advertising text as following: ‘It is a semantically completed block of textual information carrying out a function of advertising address and it is usually integrated into other components of advertising’ (Berdishev, 2015, p.16).

Advertising in printed media is one of the most popular ways of advertising in the modern society. Thousands of people read newspapers and magazines every day. Phraseological unit transformations are among the most effective methods of attracting the reader’s attention. Such transformations are accompanied by semantic actualization of the given components of phraseological unit and by semantics of phraseological unit as a whole (Teliya, 2015, p.207). The transformation can be divided in to two groups: unanalytical transformation (semantic and sense bearing), and analytical as well.

Semantictransformationdoesn’taffectthecompositionofthephraseological unit: some new shades of meaning are introduced, or you come across pan when direct and indirect meanings are combined. Thesubstitutionofoneorseverallexicalcomponentsofaphraseologicalunitis the commonly used way of transformations in journalism. For example, consider the slogan of fitness club FitFashion: ‘Your fitness. Your rules’ . The author of this advertisement substitutes word ‘life’ with word ‘fitness’ and thus transforms a familiar expression into a vivid example of pun which will definitely influence the reader.

Literalization, orrestitution of direct meaning to the phraseological unit is the next group of PU transformations which is widely employed. Such a method is frequently put forth for achieving a comic effect or expressing irony (Gak, 2018, p.132). Cat food Gourmet Perle persuade its customers with this funny slogan: «Win your cat’s heart» . The customers understand it literally as if you buy the food, you will win your pet’s love for the rest of your life. The advertising slogan of shampooAleranaisalsoavivid example of phraseological unitliteralization: «Full-lengthhair». It makes you think about silk enthickchevelure. The combination of literal and figurative meaning so faphraseological unit is a more complex device as it possesses both direct and figurative meanings. There a der perceives this phrase as both semantically fixed and free collocation.

In the Russian advertising texts, we come across a slogan: ‘ You will be contacted ’. It is taken from the advertisement of a hair styling gel Sebastian Professional. The parallel usage of a set expression ‘you will be contacted’ alongside with its direct meaning (a hair styling gel will help to arrange your hair firmly) creates a phraseological pun. Analytical transformation presupposes some changes in the verbal composition of phraseological unit. These are the subcategories of it:

1) The change in the number of phraseological components which is aimed at making the speech more expressive and also for actualization of phraseological units.

2)SyntactictransformationwhichconsistsinconvertingPUattheexpenseofminor syntactic changes that lead to profound changes in semantics. It happens, for example, when you transform a positive sentence into the negative one and vice versa.

3) Lexical transformation implies the substitution of one or several components. For example, this slogan advertising a new Hyundai Genesis: ‘ All-wheel drive of experiences ’(the set expression‘ all range of experiences’ has been modified). Such transformations involve the reader into the language game and creates a vivid descriptive unit.

4) Phraseological contamination is a phenomenon when one new expression combines some parts of already existing phraseological units which meanings are rather close. It should be noted that you have to combine such units quite neatly as there exists a risk to destroy visual component of a phraseological unit and make the text illogical and even comical.

Therefore, the transformed phraseological units help to create a brighter, more figurative and effective advertising text in periodicals. The set expression acquires an additional meaning imposed by the author and due to the actualization a phraseological unit becomes an integral part of an advertising text. When the reader identifies a familiar idiom, he increases impressively the ability to memorize the phrase and improves the perception of the text as a whole. Therefore, phraseological transformations are a perfect way to boost advertised service or goods’ rating.

Phraseological units are key elements in the structure of any advertising text as the whole advertising text is being organized just around them. The current research has proved that in 80% of the texts phraseological units are placed in a really strong, initial position, that is in the heading or a subheading of an advertisement. While analyzing he advertising texts of Russian magazines, we conclude that 10% of phraseological units can be found in the text itself. And the last 10% of phraseological units are encountered in the echo-phrases which conclude the advertisement and which are the most important elements of the advertisement. This is explained by the fact that the main purpose of including phraseological units into the advertising text is attracting the targeting audience. In this case a set expression accumulates the main idea of the whole text and reflects the essence of the text under consideration. For example, Knorr: ‘Livewithtaste’ ; night creamNIOXIN‘Your night watch’. Having studied all these examples, we have concluded that conversational phraseological units dominate literature phraseological units. This can be explained with the help of the following reasons: firstly, the major part of all the phraseological units is the phrases taken from people’s everyday conversations which are quite expressive and vivid. Secondly, colloquial phraseological units, in particular, encourage the creation of informal atmosphere, shorten the distance between the author and the addressee. They also introduce some elements of irony and conversational style that help to achieve a full availability of the advertising text and its better understanding.

There are some examples of phraseological units with various stylistic connotations:

Stylistically neutral phraseological units (idioms). For example, the advertisement of Swiss watch maker Jaeger-LeCoultre: ‘To open new horizons’. The implicit meaning of this slogan consists in the fact that if you buy these watch, you will be able to conquer any summit, to achieve any goal.

Popular-colloquial phraseological units(proverbs). For example, the advertisement of one of the clinics of plastic surgery Vaser Beauty Trend: ‘There is just one step that separates a watermelon and the cubes’ . If a person comes to the establishment, he will definitely have some positive changes in his appearance.

Colloquial phraseological units (saying). For example, nasal drops Ksilen: ‘Put someone’s nose out of joint’ . An ambiguous phrase presupposes both direct (it will relief your running nose) and indirect (these drops are the most perfect out of the nasal drops of the same category) meanings.

The phraseological units of elevated style are of a rare use in the commercial advertisement as such advertisements are aimed at a wide range of audience with different background, educational level, and the elevated style always makes the message difficult to interpret. Set expressions of a deflated style are not common advertising texts in Russian magazines as advertisement being a genre of mass communication doesn’t allow any jargons, slangs and other devaluated words and expressions.

Conclusion (заключение)

To draw a conclusion, we have to state that we have fully studied such anotionasan advertising text. We also analyzed typological and structural peculiarities of advertising texts in the Russian language. Stylistic devices employed in advertisements in the glossy magazines have been considered. There have been set the theoretical basis of phraseological units in the Russian advertising texts. We have assessed the role of phraseological units in the advertising texts. Phraseology is a rich source of linguistic knowledge of culture, life, character and behavior of people. Phraseological units are key structures that reflect socio-cultural peculiarities of the language.

The phraseological units under consideration are marked by repeatability, unity, fixed composition and structure, and, as a rule, impenetrability of the structure. We have studied phraseological unit transformations that function in the Russian advertising texts of glossy magazines. A quantity analysis of colloquial and literature phraseological units has been carried out. We have noticed that the predominant type of transformations in advertisements in Russian magazines is the semantic ones. This can be explained by the fact that this type of transformations creates vivid pun constructions and easily attracts the reader’s attention making his buy the product or use the service. Moreover, among all the phraseological units under consideration we underline the groups of colloquial and popular-colloquialones. We haven’t come across the phraseological units of elevated style and set expressions of a deflated style as this type of advertising belongs to the texts of mass media.


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30 April 2018

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Drobisheva, O. V. (2018). Phraseological Unit Transformations In Russian Magazine Advertisement. In I. V. Denisova (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 39. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 691-696). Future Academy.