Denotation and connotation essay

Denotation and connotation essay

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Barthes looks to advertising to convey topics of connotation and denotation.

One of this week’s essays from Classic Essays on Photography is by Roland Barthes where using advertising he talks about the topics and connotation and denotation. In his essay “Rhetoric of the Image”, he chooses to analyze an advertisement for Panzani. Connotation refers to how images are depicted while denotation refers to what is being depicted. If we look at the denotation of the advertisement we see that a net is depicted. There is also a connotative sign like the net bag, for example can “signify the miraculous draught of fishes plenty.”(280) He says there is difficulty analyzing connotation because “there is no particular analytical language corresponding to the particularity of its signifieds.” Instead he comes up with the word Italianicity as the best word to account for the signifieds of connotation. He says that linguistically there is a sign of the word Panzani which denotatively gives the name of the firm but there is this additional signifed called Italianicty which connatatively represents the word Panzani. Italianicity refers to the Italian assonance of the name Panzani (271). So the word Panzani is both connotational and denotational. Within the photograph itself is connotation because of “man’s intervention (framing, distance, lighting, focus, speed).”(278) All of these aspects pertain to how the images are depicted, or connotation.

In his essay Barthes refers to myth as relating to connotation. He says that in this photograph “the absence of a code clearly reinforces the myth of photographic naturalness: the scene is there, captured mechanically not humanly (the mechanical is here a guarantee of objectivity).”(278) According to Barthes myths serve to make cultural values seem objective and natural and just the way things are. In the case of the Panzani advertisement the myth is that the photograph’s Italianicity is natural; a message without a code.

Illustrating how Barthes saw myths as the dominant ideology of our time is his essay “Myth Today” in the book Mythologies. Here he analyzes a copy of Paris-Match. He says “I am at the barber’s, and a copy of Paris-Match is offered to me. On the cover, a young Negro in a French uniform is saluting, with his eyes uplifted, probably fixed on a fold of the tricolour. All this is the meaning of the picture. But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so-called oppressors.”( http://carbon. ucdenver. edu/

Mryder/itc/barthes/myth_today. html) Here the combination of signifier and signified perpetuate the myth of imperial devotion.

I think it will be interesting to take these concepts of denotation and connotation and myth and apply them to photographic essays on the web. I would also like to further explore Barthe’s idea of myth in contemporary photographs and how photography, without codes, perpetuates the myth of naturalness and ideology of the bourgeois.

Expanding Your Vocabulary for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Exam

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book 

Understanding Denotation and Connotation

Language is symbolic in that we use it to represent ideas, objects, and feelings. Because language is only representative, you can interpret any given statement in more than one way. Sometimes the difference is simply literal versus figurative interpretation. Denotation and Connotation are two more tools you can employ to discern the meaning of an unfamiliar term. For a writer to express herself precisely, she must understand both the denotations and connotations of words, and use that understanding to convey to the reader her exact intent.

Denotation

A word’s Denotation is the strict dictionary definition of that word and refers to the actual thing or idea it represents. In other words, a denotation is the actual meaning of the word without reference to the emotional associations it can arouse in a reader.

If a writer wants her readers to fully grasp her meaning, she must use words according to their established denotations to avoid meaning something she didn’t intend and end up confusing the reader. An example of a misused word is represented in this sentence, «Her dissent was gradual and hesitating.» This is homonym confusion—and subsequently denotation confusion—at its best. Although a dissent (disagreement) may be gradual and hesitating, the most likely denotation is that of descent (travel downward), which makes a lot more sense.

However, even with the apparent objectivity of a dictionary definition, you will still encounter certain language challenges on the denotative level, because a word can have multiple denotations. For example, the dictionary lists more than 20 distinct meanings for the word Low. As a result, you can say, «A low wall bordered the field,» and you can also say, «John was feeling low today.» The same word, used in two different contexts, has two distinctly different meanings. This ambiguity of word meanings can give you a bit of an obstacle in understanding new words. Considering that, ensure that when you read you understand both denotation and context to get the precise meaning of the word as it is used.

In technical or scientific books you are less likely to find a great number of words with multiple denotations than you are, for instance, in a fictional work. In these kinds of books, you have a one-to-one correspondence between word and meaning. For example, if you see the term Transistor or Operating system, you will perceive each of those terms in only one context each, that being electronic circuitry (for transistor) or a set of governing operating rules for your computer (for operating system).

Be aware that words can have more than one denotation and connotation. Be sure to read the question in the correct context and then choose an answer based on the most correct contextual meaning.

Connotation

Although writers can make mistakes in denotation, a writer is more apt to miss the right word by misjudging its Connotation. Connotation refers to the emotional or psychological associations a word carries with it. The connotation of a word goes beyond its strict meaning to express the feelings, thoughts, and images the word suggests or evokes.

You can see an example of the difference between connotation and denotation by examining the phrase United States of America. The denotation is as follows: «A federal republic of North America, including 50 states, and the District of Columbia, the Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, American Samoa, Guam Wake, and several other scattered islands of the Pacific.» Pretty dry and neutral, huh? Now, compare the connotation of the same phrase, which includes government, patriotism, national pride, and a feeling of republic and oneness with other Americans. As you can see, the connotation is quite different from the denotation.

Because of the subjective nature of language, it has the power to create unpredictable psychological responses. Some connotations are personal, deriving from one’s particular experiences, whereas others carry emotional overtones by virtue of the way the writer presents the word.

For example, the word Home evokes a different response from someone who came from a happy childhood and home than that evoked in someone who had an unhappy home life. Several types of connotation can influence the way you think about a word, which are as follows:

Positive (favorable) connotation—Words that make people feel good

Negative (unfavorable) connotation—Words that provoke a negative emotional response

Neutral connotation—Words that cause no emotional reaction at all

Depending on the intent of the writer, he will choose either favorable or unfavorable connotations to communicate his point. Most journalistic writing uses favorable connotations for the sake of political correctness and to avoid alienating readers. Scientific or technical documents typically use a neutral connotation. Politically motivated writing normally uses highly charged connotations, both favorable and unfavorable, to achieve the desired impact.

Words also have formal and informal connotations. When you speak with or write to older people, people who are in a position of authority, or others you do not know well, you are most likely to use words with formal connotations. An example would be using the term Grandmother instead of a denotative, yet less formal, equal like Gramma. Formal connotations tend to be either neutral or favorable. When you speak with or write to your friends, you are most likely to use words with informal connotations.

I need examples of denotation and connotation. All words have a denotation and connotation. The denotation refers to the most basic or specific meaning of a word. In contrast, a connotation is an.

I need examples of denotation and connotation. All words have a denotation and connotation. The denotation refers to the most basic or specific meaning of a word. In contrast, a connotation is an idea that is suggested by or associated with a word. For example, the word home is just a name of structure, but the word has connotation of a nation, a place of warmth, comfort, and affection.

Quick Answer

An example of the difference between connotation and denotation can be found in the distinction between the words «childish» and «childlike.» While the denotations for these two words are essentially identical, the first has a more insulting connotation while the latter reads as more whimsical and positive.

Expert Answers

Denotation can be thought of as dictionary meanings or definitions. Connotation is related to the subjective and cultural experiences of individuals. For example, when a person uses the word, “father,” it will not be value free. A father may connote various other thoughts and feelings such as kindness, severity, love, or abuse. Therefore, in interpreting a text, it will be important to ask what words connote in that particular context. Also it will be important to realize.

Denotation can be thought of as dictionary meanings or definitions. Connotation is related to the subjective and cultural experiences of individuals. For example, when a person uses the word, “father,” it will not be value free. A father may connote various other thoughts and feelings such as kindness, severity, love, or abuse. Therefore, in interpreting a text, it will be important to ask what words connote in that particular context. Also it will be important to realize that words can connote very different notions with a change in time and place. Here is another example from the modern day. Bad can mean something not good, but among some young people, «bad» can mean cool. The connotation of the word is radically different!

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Related Questions

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There are plenty of examples that you can think of. For example:

  • The word «snake» simple denotes a reptile. But it has the connotation of someone who can not be trusted, someone who cheats, and/or someone who will do harm to you if they can.
  • In American English, both «kid» and «child» have the same denotation, but «kid» has a much more playful and affectionate connotation.
  • In business/economic terms, the word «outsourcing» denotes having a different firm do some of the work that helps build or create the product that your firm makes. But the connotation of this word is very negative. It has the connotation of hiring cheap labor, usually in a foreign country, and destroying American jobs.

Please consider these examples:

Skinny, thin, and slender. These three words all mean having less weight on one’s body than what might be considered average. But the connotations differ since the suggested meanings of skinny and thin are often more negative than slender, with skinny potentially the most negative of the three.

Childlike and childish both mean characteristic of a child; however, childlike suggests innocence, meekness and wide-eyed wonder, while chidish suggests immaturity, pettiness, and willfulness.

Horses and coursers both denotes equinines, but coursers has the suggestion of agile and dainty equinines.

New denotes of recent origin, but the connotation can suggest better, improved

Cheap and inexpensive both denote not costly, but the connotation of cheap suggests something is of poor quality whereas inexpensive does not.

Often connotation is a result of the context of a word. For instance, if one says that the dog barked, the connotation is neutral, but if one says that the manager barked orders at his staff, the connotation is clearly negative.

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