The Rise of Conceptual Association and Linguistic Register as Advertiser Persuasive Instruments

An Australian study of press artefacts 1800s–1950s




advertising language, conceptual association, linguistic register, presupposition, implicature, persuasion


Consumer advertising is remarkable in its propensity to socially recalibrate and adopt new technology, thus providing a spectacular range of information-dissemination methodology in multimodal formats. Unsurprisingly then, the sensory-input phenomena of advertising language attract interdisciplinary interest. Despite researcher diversity, conceptual association presents as a premier audience-sensitive instrument deployed in relay of advertiser-intended meanings: in this dynamic, socio-culturally appropriate messaging is attempted via linguistic register (word choices) tied in semantic interdependency with non-linguistic elements. Compositional meaning-maker favourites include abbreviations, symbols, presupposition and implicature as facilitators of ‘hidden’ meanings. Here, an under-researched area emerges on the historical plane—namely the origin story of conceptual association as an operative in consumer-oriented rhetoric and its pragmatic transit from early-seller composition toward the kaleidoscope of today’s advertising broadband. In this vein, the evolutionary path of promotional discourse is traced via an Australian 1800s–1950s press dataset. The data evidences abbreviations and symbols in consumer advertising by the late 1840s and pegs the rise of presupposition and implicature to the 1850s. This finding, as historical backdrop, complements inquiries that illuminate how compositional choices work to generate non-evidence-based benefits that induce positive appraisal and, further, raises the formative journey of English as today’s global lingua franca of consumer advertising.


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Author Biography

Constance de Silva, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University

Research Affiliate, Monash University Australia

School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics



An old fashioned printing press.






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