Bialecki 1 Robert Bialecki Prof.

Hanson ENGL-340, Structure of English 15 December 2009

Introduction
In their textbook, “How English Works,” Anne Curzan and Michael Adams state that “the consumerism that has driven advertising has created a „commercial written English‟ that sits on a middle ground between the way people speak and the rules of standard written English” (Curzan and Adams 486). The branch of linguistics my research project focuses on is the textbook‟s Chapter 14, “The History of English: Modern and Future English.” My research question is: “In what ways do signs, newspaper headlines, and television commercials break the rules of Standard English?”

Methods
For my research project, I collected 15 examples of signs, newspaper headlines, and television commercials that break the rules of Standard English. I found five examples of each medium. I found the five examples of signs at local stores and restaurants. I found the five examples of newspaper headlines in my local newspaper, the La Crosse Tribune. I found the five examples of television commercials by browsing YouTube. Finding examples of commercials was by far the most difficult part of my data collection, since I had to rely on my memory in order to come up with examples of television commercials that break the rules of Standard English. To analyze these data, I determined how each example breaks the rules of Standard English. Lastly, I summarized the data into tables.

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Results

Signs
Sign Now thru November 29, 2009 BOGO Shoes 2-4-1 Burgers BBQ Ribs All-U-Can-Eat Where it was found Kohl‟s Payless Shoes American Legion Famous Dave‟s Seven Bridges Restaurant How it Breaks the Rules of Standard English They shortened “through” to “thru.” They used an acronym instead of “Buy one, get one.” They used all numbers instead of “two for one” or even “2-for1.” They used the acronym for “barbecue.” They used “U” instead of “you.”

Newspaper Headlines
Headline 4 police officers shot dead at coffeehouse Antarctic icebergs float toward N. Zealand Packers sign former Broncos CB Bell Hormel 4Q profit rises 50 percent, but sales slip Collector sells stamps, $3.2M, to help Smithsonian How it Breaks the Rules of Standard English They began the headline with the number “4” instead of spelling it out as “Four.” They have abbreviated New Zealand. “N.” is typically used to mean “North,” as in “N. Korea.” They abbreviated “cornerback” as “CB.” They abbreviated “fourth quarter” as “4Q.” They omitted the word “for” and abbreviated million as “M.”

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Commercials
Commercial This is a commercial for Cingular/AT&T:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySR3hpieiQc

How it Breaks the Rules of Standard English They speak in texting language: idk, myob, bff, etc. They use the made up word, “Gleek” (used to describe a person who is a fan of the show). They use the made up word, “Culverized.” They intentionally mispronounce words so that they end with the same sound as the word, “latte.” They use the made up words, “crispety” and “crunchety.”

This is a commercial for the TV show, “Glee”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN--3_NkVmI

This is a commercial for Culver‟s:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drWnaIUOP8U

This is a commercial for McDonald‟s lattes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1cXI1CXpS8

This is a commercial for Butterfinger:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6A3SAjkNOM

Discussion
In all of the examples of signs and newspaper headlines I found, they have used shortening techniques, such as using abbreviations, shortening individual words, and using numerical figures where Standard English would say to spell the numbers out as words. According to Curzan and Adams, “Although much newspaper text conforms to the prescriptive rules of Standard English, headlines are a linguistic wildcard . . . Like advertising, adept headlining requires enthusiasm for brevity . . . given the extra space headlines take by virtue of their size, only a few words will fit into one” (Curzan and Adams 486-487). This could explain why the signs and headlines I found have broken the rules of Standard English. Although these signs and headlines do break the rules of Standard English, most people would still be able to understand their meanings. However, this may influence language change.

Bialecki 4 Perhaps in the future, acronyms like “BBQ” and “BOGO” as well as shortened words such as “U” for “you” and “thru” for “through” will become more acceptable alternatives. Curzan and Adams state that “All of our experience of conversation indicates that we can make up words on the spot, and that we don‟t always (or even usually) speak in complete, prescriptively grammatical sentences. Natural speech is often elliptical and suggestive instead. Because advertising „befriends‟ potential buyers and rarely depends on logical argument for commercial results, it talks the purchaser‟s talk” (Curzan and Adams 486). This could explain why most of the television commercials I found have used made up words. The Cingular/AT&T commercial most likely used texting language because many people who use cell phones are fluent in texting language and would understand acronyms such as “idk,” “myob,” and “bff.” The commercials for “Glee” and Culver‟s have made creative use of the blending technique to give us the made up words, “Gleek” (“Glee” + geek) and “Culverized” (Culver‟s + pulverized). They may have done this because blending is such a popular way of making up new words, and many such words are still with us today. In the McDonald‟s latte commercial where they mispronounce words so that they end in the same sound as “latte” does, they may have done this so that when customers come across a noun that ends in “e,” they‟ll be reminded of the commercial. The Butterfinger commercial most likely used the made up words, “crispety” and “crunchety,” because not only do they do a good job describing the candy bar, but they also sound like real words. But what do these made up words mean for the future of English? If they catch on, you may start seeing and hearing them more in everyday English.

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Works Cited
Curzan, Anne, and Michael Adams. How English Works. 2nd ed. Pearson, 2009.