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English Language & Linguistics
Estate Agents have to make their houses stand out from others by descriptions alone. They must first entice a future purchaser to the house and they commonly do this by use of linguistic devices such as hyperbole and euphemism, showing the good points of the house to best advantage and trying to make the bad points into good ones.
Since different houses appeal to different people it is not always easy to know what it is best to highlight, so the estate agent tends to go for overkill, proclaiming every possible feature as if it is a virtue.
There is a limit to the number of features which the agent can speak of, but no limit to the number of praising adjectives which can be used. Estate agents' prose is therefore colourful, and features 'a wealth of exposed adjectives.' Some adjectives and phrases have proved so popular (and the likelihood of houses being similar is so high) that certain phrases recur and become clichéd.
The opening phrase is intended to demonstrate the great good fortune of the seller:
Note the length of the noun phrase and the grandeur of the noun.
These may then
be followed by a phrase describing the location.
Notice the emphasis
on desirability conveyed by 'eagerly sought after', the cosy picture expressed
in the phrase 'tucked away' and the convenience of nearby facilities.
Isolated in flat countryside such as East Anglia:
Peace and quiet seem to be generally appealing attributes, so wherever possible isolation is described in favourable terms:
On the other
hand, however much you may think you would like a
A house near other houses, shops, roads etc is
A general location may be 'fantastic' 'super' or 'magnificent'
The size of the house is often a topic of euphemism, particularly if it is small, which becomes:
while if large the house or its rooms can be:
or the two-edged description - 'deceptively spacious.'
A large house may be referred to as a:
Houses are in fact rarely referred to as 'houses' at all and may be
but above all they are homes, which gives them an emotional appeal, far superior to the simple house. Note that the company selling the house for you is an estate agent, not a house agent. He or she may be a member of the Homelink organisation. The first suggests grandeur, the second warmth.
As a home it must be invested with as much personality and character as a structure can be given, so we find the bricks and mortar become:
If the house is old and unchanged it may be:
If it is old
and has had work done to it it may be:
The appearance of a house is not to be trusted to adequately convey its charm so you are advised:
Gardens, apart from being 'private', 'secluded', 'walled', may be:
Larger areas become:
Small gardens are often
Houses still retain the sexist 'master bedroom', toilets are referred to as 'cloakrooms' when downstairs, 'bathrooms' when upstairs or 'WC' when separate upstairs. Bathrooms usually feature 'low level suites' even though the only alternative (the high level Victorian style) has been extinct for 50 years. Favoured colour at the time of writing seems to be 'champagne' (off white) which has replaced the 'avocado' (off green) and 'flamingo' (violent pink) of earlier years. The complete group of toilet, hand basin and bath is invariably referred to as a 'suite' when they are 'luxuriously equipped'.
Rooms downstairs are given a variety of names such as:
A room may be a
A kitchen may be
This is only a brief and partial survey of estate agents' hyperbole and doesn't attempt to untangle the nuances of 'executive style' estates, 'pied a terres' , 'penthouse flats','retirement opportunities' and the like.
The agent is responsible for making the house as attractive as possible within the limited range of a piece of typed paper and a photograph. Purchasers come to expect exaggeration and by and large take it in their stride. Fortunately they rarely lie - but caveat emptor - buyer beware.