Chapter 17: Probability Markers in Croatian and Belgian Advertisements and Tolerance for Ambiguity
Ivana Bušljeta Banks and Patrick De Pelsmacker INTRODUCTION Probability Markers in Advertisements for Different Types of Service For the last 37 years beer-lovers and their friends have known exactly which beer is probably the best in the world. Ever since Carlsberg’s “Probably . . .” campaign was launched in 1973, its slogan has been seen in more than 100 versions of commercials and advertisements worldwide, and has become the longest running beer campaign, but also one of the longest running advertising campaigns ever, regardless of product/service category, according to Super Brands (1998) (Figure 17.1, www.creativecriminals.com/images/carlsbergpearl1.jpg). Carlsberg’s advertisements are also probably the best known example of the use of probability markers in advertising. Probability markers are specific words or phrases used to signal to which degree is it likely that a given claim or argument is true. Those markers that indicate probable, rather than absolute, truth of a claim are known as hedges, whereas the markers that indicate complete commitment to the truthfulness of the claim are known as pledges. Hedges, which can be adverbs (“possibly”, “probably”), verbs (“can”, “may”, “help”), particles (“about”, “sort of”), or other expressions (“9 out of 10”, “85 percent of”, etc.), weaken the impact of a claim by allowing for exceptions or avoiding total commitment (Erickson et al., 1978; Wright and Hosman, 1983). Language that contains hedges is considered powerless. Generally, powerless language is marked by frequent use of both non-verbal and verbal hesitations, tag questions, intensifiers, and hedges, and results in negative speaker attributions and evaluations, specifically...
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