The role of metaphor, metonymy, and conceptual blending in understanding advertisements: the case of drug-prevention ads


  • Javier Herrero Ruiz



Drogas, Prevención, Metáfora, Metonimia, Anuncios, Publicidad, Pragmática


Over the last years, there has been a growing interest in the analysis of advertisements from the point of view of pragmatic theory (cf. Brierley, 1995; Myers, 1994; Rein, 1982; Tanaka, 1994). Nevertheless, pragmatic studies of the language of advertising from a cognitive perspective are scarce (cf. Turner & Fauconnier, 2000; Coulson, 2000; Sánchez & Gómez, 2002). In this connection, the aim of this study is twofold: first, we attempt to provide additional evidence about the role of metaphor, metonymy, and conceptual blending in the proper understanding of a set of drug-prevention ads and, second, we shall demonstrate that, in addition to determining the semantics of the slogans, the underlying mappings also constrain the choice of their related visual layouts; thus, the overall communicative effects brought about by the advertisement are further reinforced. With this purpose in mind, we have drawn a corpus of sixteen drug-prevention advertisements, both in Spanish and English, which include slogans and images. The adverts under consideration have been entirely retrieved from the net, and contain expressions such as "keep your eyes open," "there is a long life ahead," or "turn away from drugs." We shall show that the interpretation of such examples ultimately exploits metaphor (e.g. FUTURE TIME IS IN FRONT OF EGO, KNOWING IS SEEING) and metonymy (e.g. EFFECT FOR CAUSE), either independently or in interaction, and conceptual blending.


Part of a talk delivered at AESLA Annual Conference, 2004. Financial support for this research has been provided by the DGI, Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, grant no. HUM2004-05947-C02-01/FILO. The research has been co-financed through FEDER funds.


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How to Cite

Herrero Ruiz, Javier. 2006. “The Role of Metaphor, Metonymy, and Conceptual Blending in Understanding Advertisements: The Case of Drug-Prevention Ads”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 19 (November):169-90.