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9.1.3: Connotations vs. Denotations

  • Page ID
    23303
  • IMPORTANT  INFO

    • Connotation and denotation are not two separate things.
      • They are two aspects/elements of a sign, and the connotative meanings of a word exist together with the denotative meanings.
    • Connotation = the various social overtones, cultural implications, or emotional meanings associated with a sign.

    • Denotation =the explicit or referential meaning of a sign, the literal meaning of a word, the ‘dictionary definition.’

    Consider the difference between these two words: 

    • House/Home 

    • Woman/Chick

    • Kill/Murder

    Joey Writes a Letter…

    clipboard_ed802d8980f5b41a9a24a55432dbdd9c2.png

    Denotation vs. Connotation

    “Walk” means to move forward by placing one foot in front of the other.

    • swaggered

    • strolled

    • lumbered along

    • skipped

     

    Which word in each pair below has the more favorable connotation to you?

    • thrifty-penny-pinching

    • pushy-aggressive

    • politician-statesman

    • chef-cook

    • slender-skinny

    Connotation can depend on the person who hears the word.

    Language is continually changing…

    • Gangsters and thugs= criminals

    • During the Depression -> Irish, Italian, or other European immigrants associated with the mob

    • Today -> African-American rap artists

    clipboard_e3de715ddeadc5ee7809db5df5b7c8a1b.png clipboard_ea52bb4e9f33e059d2a757516f2281d3f.png

    Do these words have positive or negativeconnotations for “drink”?

    • guzzle
    • Slurp
    • Indulge
    clipboard_eb7d396feffe4c97ef9c73a0927ef7e88.png
    • sip
    • lap
    • down

     

    New Team Names

    • Poodles
    • Snakes
    • Maggots
    • Hippos
    • Gazelles
    • Meteors
    • Sleepers
    • Zeniths
    • Toads
    • Snails
    • Spikes
    • Sloths

     

     

    Negative

    Positive

    drug addict

    druggie/fiend

    substance abuser

    handicapped

    crippled

    disabled

    thin

    beanpole

    slender

    attractive

    fair

    pretty

    reporter

    newshound

    journalist

    photographer

    paparazzi

    shutterbug

     

    Positive or Negative?

    • refreshing-chilly
    • plain-natural
    • clever-sly
    • cackle-giggle
    • snob-cultured
    • cop-officer
    • skinny-slender
    • statesman-politician
    • smile-smirk
    • domineering-assertive
     

    Negative

    Positive

    Over-weight

       

    Short

       

    Not smart

       

    Unattractive

       

    Non-athletic

       

    Self-focused

       

    Consider the following:

    • There are over 2,000 vagrants in the city.

    • There are over 2,000 people with no fixed address in the city.

    • There are over 2,000 homeless in the city.

    What’s the Difference? 

    • The media were swarming around the pileup on the expressway to capture every conceivable injury for the evening news.

    • The journalists were on the scene at the expressway crash to document the incident for the evening news.

    • Photographers stood patiently along the walkway, awaiting the arrival of the Oscar nominees.

    • The paparazzi lined the walkway anxiously poised to snap the Oscar nominees.

    • America's Midwest is often referred to as the heartland by Washington congressmen.

    • America's Midwest is often referred to as flyover country by DC politicos.

    What’s the POINT?

    • Separating grammatical denotation from connotation is important because while one might assume that a word’s denotation is fully intended, whether a word’s connotations are intended is much more difficult to determine. 

    • Connotations are often emotional in nature, and thus if they are intended, it may be for the purpose of swaying a person’s emotional reactions rather than the logical evaluation of an argument.

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