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Sold on Language: How Advertisers Talk to You and What This Says About You Paperback – February 21, 2011
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"The result is a truly enjoyable, ironic and fresh volume, easy and pleasant to read for any type of audience." (Metapsychology, 15 November 2011)
"This is a well-written, entertaining, and penetrating book on advertisers' ubiquitous attempts at persuasion to influence marketplace behaviour, including the basis for an argument that advertisers are bent on making choices for the consumer. . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; consumers, general readers." (Choice, 1 October 2011)
"I highly recommend the landmark and must read book Sold on Language: How Advertisers Talk to You and What This Says About You by Julie Sedivy and Greg Carlson, to anyone seeking an open, honest, as well an engaging study into the nature of advertising messages, brands, and the words used to market products. This eye opening book will change the way readers approach advertising messages and the illusion that the market offers real choice." (Blog Business World, 28 April 2011)
"For a university student with nascent interests in language and thought, reading this book might well provide a stimulus to take some philosophy or psychology or language sciences, which would be no bad thing." (Times Higher Education Supplement, 21 April 2011)
— Professor Barry Schwartz, Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College and author of ‘The Paradox of Choice’, and ‘Practical Wisdom’
"Via engaging prose and scientific evidence, Sedivy and Carlson have made a noteworthy contribution by providing fresh and deep insights into something we thought we'd already understood."
—Dr Robert B. Cialdini, Author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
Tell most people that advertisers and politicians exploit language to manipulate desire and opinion, and they'll likely respond "So what else is new?" – and then go on to add, "though, mind you, I'm not fooled for an instant." But advertisers eat that self-assurance for breakfast food; they know that no audience is so easy to beguile as one that's smugly confident in its own sophistication. With engaging examples and lucid explanations, Sedivy and Carlson document the persuasive power that inhabits every corner of language – not just in the familiar puffery of adjectives like "new and improved," but the implications hidden in little words like your and the. Whether you're a student of language or just a consumer of it, you'll come away from Sold on Language a bit more humble and a lot more attentive – and by the by, with an appreciation of how much more there is to language than the wisdom we acquired in seventh grade at the end of Sister Petra's ruler.
— Geoffrey Nunberg, University of California at Berkeley, Language commentator, "Fresh Air," NPR
Language comes to us brilliantly easily. How else could children be learning new words at the incredible rate of 10 a day? But that ease of learning carries with it the risk that we will be oblivious to the power of words – as written or spoken by others – to control our behavior. To all who might want to protect themselves against that risk, I say: read this book.
—Jay Ingram, author of Talk, Talk, Talk, Canada
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Top Customer Reviews
So why this interest in Bernays? Because of the effects and effectiveness of the vast advertising and media industries that have grown up in this last century of 'extreme individualism'. This book is an attempt to unpack the mainly linguistic 'tricks of the trade' of these industries and, in doing so, to inoculate us against them.
The books main themes centre around the ways in which we are becoming aware of how our minds work and how they may be manipulated. To start with, the authors consider 'The Unconscious Consumer':
'According to Sigmund Freud...we live in constant danger of having our unconscious memories and longings grab us by the throat and lead us down a path of irrational choices...Freud probed these hidden motivators by having people lie on a couch and relate their dreams and memories. Today, scientists of the mind probe them with clever experimental tasks in labs and use expensive devices to measure the gaze patterns of eyes, and the electrical activity and blood flow in the brain. All this technological proliferation just emphasises how elusive our own minds are to us.Read more ›
The authors weave together a broad range of research and examples to demonstrate just how much of our behavior is determined below our conscious minds. They show that our responses to language, non-verbal cues, and emotional images are rarely the result of conscious and reasoned thought, but rather reflexive reactions based on a combination of hard-wiring and our internalized observations of how the world around us operates. Advertisers then use the latest scientific knowledge of our brains' 'default' processing mechanisms to hawk their merchandise.Read more ›
With easy-reading humor and insight the authors use many concrete examples to show us how even subtle shifts in language can have enormous impact on how we perceive the messages of advertisers, especially at levels of consciousness that lie below our rational level of thinking. You will be shocked by some of the techniques advertisers use to mess with our heads.
The final chapter is like a punch in the gut. While it's easy to nod your head when recognizing the influence commercial interests have succeeded in having on your buying habits, it's very distressing to be shown how little public policy content really counts in the voting booth.
We have the capacity to choose. Sold on Language strives to arm us as well as possible with the ability to choose also _how_ we choose.
Sold on Language focuses on choice in a consumer’s mind, whether it is real, and to what extent. It touches on subjects within formal linguistics (such as basic phonetics, aspirated consonants, priming, presuppositions, etc.) in a way that makes them quite accessible to the average reader. The first 7 chapters focus on such subjects as subconscious messages, how advertisers compete for your attention and how this plays into how we divide our attention as humans, and how advertisers use indirect and emotional language to get their intentions across. The final chapter touches on politics, and how everything from the “comfiness” of a politician’s name to the way they give speeches influences our opinions and how we vote.
It’s hard to convey the breadth of this book in a single review. Instead, I will simply identify what appealed to me most. The authors seamlessly transition from and within topics in linguistics, as applicable to the chapter as a whole. The reader is given information that encapsulates their knowledge of the selected broad topics in numerous ways. Each section includes a title that helps guide the reader into what the following text is about and how it will inform the overall topic of the chapter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The most interesting information was toward the end of the book when it discovered the connections between governance and advertising. Read morePublished 20 months ago by nonegiven12