abstracts 2
Television Advertisement Format and the Provision of Risk Information about Prescription Drug Products
    * Lewis H Glinert and Jon Schommer
    * Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 1 (2), pp 185-210, 2005 (thematic issue on direct-to-consumer advertising)
      Background: Considerable attention has been accorded to analyzing the content of and assessing consumers' reaction to print direct-to-consumer drug ads, but not so for televised ads.
      Objective: To determine whether advertisements with different risk severity and risk presentation would significantly affect viewers' (1) recall of information contained in the advertisement, (2) evaluation of the advertisement, and (3) perceptions of the advertised product's risk.
      Methods: Data were collected from a sample of 135 first-year pharmacy students at a Midwestern college of pharmacy.  After viewing 1 of the 6 advertisements designed for this study, participants were asked to complete a self-administered survey.  Chi-square and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data.  A 2x3 between subjects design was used to test the effect of 2 levels of risk severity (high vs. low-risk severity) and 3 levels of risk presentation (original ad containing integrated risk message, deintegrated risk message/dual modality using male voice-over, deintegrated risk message/dual modality using female voice-over).
      Results: Results of analysis of variance procedures revealed that deintegrating risk information by placing it at the end of the advertisement and the use of captions in addition to oral messages (dual modality) (1) improved the recall of general and specific side effect information, (2) led to a perception that the advertisement had greater informational content, (3) resulted in lower Advertisement Distraction, and (4) lessened cognitive and affective aspects of information overload for the advertisement containing the high-risk severity medication.  However, this pattern of findings was not found for the low-risk severity medication.
      Conclusion: Alternative methods for presenting risk information in direct-to-consumer ads affected some aspects of information recall and advertisement evaluation, but were not shown to affect risk perceptions regarding the advertised products.
TV Commercials for prescription drugs: A discourse analytic perspective
    * Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 1(2), pp 158-184, 2005 (thematic issue on direct-to-consumer advertising)
      Background: The US Food and Drug Administration has called for research that may assist in developing standards for risk/benefit messages in the promotion of prescription drugs.  Linguistics-based models of meaning and inference, though frequently applied to advertising, have not hitherto been used in this arena.
      Objective: This study was intended to illustrate how discourse analysis, a methodology for microanalysis of texts in context, can elucidate the workings and interplay of promotional, informational, and other functions of direct-to-consumer advertising, anticipating threats to "fair balance" and pinpointing textual phenomena and issues suited to empirical study.
      Methods: The text and visuals of a small corpus were analyzed along several dimensions, using theoretical insights of linguistic pragmatics and ethnography of speech to ask what the advertisement is seeking to do and what message a viewer is likely to derive.
      Results: The linguistic and rhetorical features include an intense switching and fusion of styles and modalities: the traditional advertising distinction between personal and impersonal, "company" and "consumer", was obstentatiously flouted.  The role of spokesperson was assigned to characters in a real or virtual narrative.  The narrative portion of the text and images often struck an ironic or postmodern note, e.g., by mixing science with science fiction.  The overall functions of the commercials (promotional, informational, and aesthetic) were themselves frequently blended.  The text deployed several linguistics or rhetorical strategies to send a double message for promotional advantage, including syntactic-semantic ambiguity, voice-over risk messages at odds with upbeat visuals, and a vagueness of certain words in particular contexts.
      Conclusions: Findings contribute to our understanding of how TV commercials convey meaning with respect to drug benefits and risks, with implications for advertisers, regulators, and patient education.  They also suggest new foci for empirical study.
‘Lexicographic function and the relation between supply and demand.’ International Journal of Lexicography, 11(2), pp 111-124, 1998
Examination of the role of popular and specialized lexicography in the re-nativization of Hebrewcan cast light on the question of how far a society needs its dictionaries. Even where popular and specialist lexical need would appear to be extreme, as in the urgent, politically charged re-vernacularization of Hebrew for a broad range of casual and formal functions, other cultural and political forces may militate against deploying or employing the dictionary.
        In the Israeli case, both literary and popular pressures were arrayed: Elite literary circles favoured gradualistic, literary development over forced, philological solutions. This may have had as much to do with social conflict between competing cultural elites as with ideological or aesthetic differences. Popular circles of pioneers, ideologically and pragmatically opposed to the traditional Jewish 'republic of learning' and its authority, building a new, individualistic culture, saw no reason to support lexicography with its ponderous traditions.
(Co-author: Gregory Abel)  “Chemotherapy as language: sound symbolism in cancer medication names”. Social Science & Medicine 66. 2008, pp. 1863-1869
The concept of sound symbolism proposes that even the tiniest sounds comprising a word may suggest the qualities of the object which word represents. Cancer-related medication names, which are likely to be charged with emotional meaning for patients, might be expected to contain such sound symbolic associations. We analyzed the sounds in 60 frequently-used cancer-related medications, focusing on the medications’ trade names as well as the names (trade or generic) commonly used in the clinic. We assessed the frequency of common voiced consonants (/b/,/d/,/g/,/v/,/z/; associated with slowness and heaviness) and voiceless consonants (/p/,/t/,/k/,/f/,/s/; associated with fastness and lightness), and compared them to what would be expected in standard American English using a reference dataset. A chi-square for goodness of fit showed the chemotherapy consonantal frequencies to be significantly different from standard English (p < .015 for trade; p < .001 for “common usage”). For the trade names, the majority of the voiceless consonants were significantly increased compared to standard English; this effect was more pronounced with the “common usage” names (for the group, O/E = 1.61; 95% CI [1.37, 1.89]). Hormonal and targeted therapy trade names showed the greatest frequency of voiceless consonants (for the group, O/E = 1.76; 95% CI  [1.19, 2.49]). Our results suggest that taken together, the names of chemotherapy medications contain an increased frequency of certain sounds associated with fastness and lightness. This finding raises important questions about the possible role of the names of medications in the experiences of cancer patients and providers.
'Apologizing to the nation', American Communication Journal, 2(2), 1999
Can apologizing be effected in a hostile or critical vein or must it ipso facto involve ingratiation? May power be expressed in an apology or is it at least temporarily suspended?
The force of Clinton’s televised statement of August 17, 1998  is thrown into question by the global structure of this text. Assessed by the yardstick of 'apologetics', it appears to have a decidedly non-apologetic force. Half of the text is a ringing, climactic self-justification. Rhetorically, it is in fact a projection of the everyday 'I'm sorry, but (you can't come in)", in which "I'm sorry" has none of the force of an apology but rather serves to reduce the threat to the addressee's negative face. Most tellingly, the text does not end with any form of apology. Several speech act genres, such as thanks, the apology and the congratulation, typically open and conclude with conventionalized mirror-image performative expressions. The absence of any expression of contrition at the climax of Clinton's address counteracts the strongly apologetic force of the third and fifth paragraphs and renders this text a non-apology.
(with Y. Shilhav) 'Holy land, holy language: Language and territory in an Ultraorthodox Jewish ideology', Language in Society 20, pp. 59-86, 1989
This study explores the correlation between notions of language and territory in the ideology of a present-day Ultraorthodox Jewish group, the Hasidim of Satmar, in the context of Jewish Ultraorthodoxy ('Haredism') in general. This involves the present-day role of Yiddish vis-a-vis Hebrew, particularly in Israel. We first address the 'relative sanctity' of a space that accommodates a closed Haredi life-style and of a language in which it is expressed, then contrast this with the 'absolute sanctity' of the Land of Israel and the Language of Scripture both in their intensional (positive) and in their extensional (negative) dimensions, and finally examine the 'quasi-absolute sanctity' with which the Yiddish language and Jewish habitat of Eastern Europe have been invested. Our conclusion is that three such cases of a parallel between linguistic and territorial ideology point to an intrinsic link. Indeed, the correlation of language and territory on the plane of 'quasi-absolute sanctity' betokens an ongoing, active ideological tie, rather than a set of worn, petrified values evoking mere lip-service -- for these notions of quasi-sanctity find many echoes in reality: in the use of Yiddish and in the creation of a surrogate Eastern European life-style in the Haredi 'ghettos'.
Minimizers in Second Temple/Mishnaic Hebrew:  A syntactic-semantic analysis
In Steven Fassberg (ed.)  Sha’arei Lashon: Studies in Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish Languages presented to Moshe Bar-Asher. Mosad Bialik, pp. 103-128, 2008. [in Hebrew]
The corpus of the Historical Dictionary of the Hebrew Language reveals a range of grammatical strategies for expressing ‘a few’ or ‘a little’, varying by period, source and frequency. There are three quantifiers: (1) miqsat: a partitive, construct to a noun (which can drop), 80 Mishnaic occurrences; (2) me’at occurs just 25 times, 60% in Ben Sira: non-partitive, uninflected, pre- or post-modifier, also an adverb of degree and an unbounded pronoun.  (3) kim’ah occurs just 9 times, only in Mishnaic texts: rather like me’at but not an N-modifier.  Matching me’at in syntactic versatility is harbeh. Thus, me’at, kim’ah and harbeh pattern fairly predictably, except that harbeh is post-N. There are also three adjectives: ma’ut, memu’at and mu’at, all of them regular adjectives and thus not used adverbially or as pro-N unless a noun is recoverable. They denote ‘a few’ or ‘a small amount of’ (e.g. wine) but not ‘a small’ (e.g. house), unless the noun itself (e.g. davar, matanah) refers to something that can be tallied. ma’ut occurs11 times (never in m.sg. but this may be coincidental), whereas memu’at and mu’at are the standard non-partitive minimizer in Tannaitic texts. The former is rare in the Tosefta, the latter (probably a haplological variant) rare in the Mishnah. Functionally, viewed in comparison with maximizers (Kaddari 1994), minimizers are strikingly uncommon as adverbials or as unbounded pronouns; and for modifying a noun, Tannaitic texts almost always use adjectives: ma’ut, memu’at and mu’at -- there is no equivalent here of the much-used quantifier harbeh.