Wednesday, February 6, 2013



I turned on the car radio as I headed off to the dog park and came into the middle of the introduction of the next segment of the talk radio program.   It went something like this:   " . . .the President is introducing his plan for the next four years on climate change or global warming or some such thing . . ."

I knew without a doubt, without hearing another word, what the host's opinion was on the topic.   Partly, a small part, because of the tone of his voice but mostly because of the tag at the end:   . . . some such thing."  Those three words impart a certain scorn, a definite negativity to whatever the topic at hand is.   I suppose it is the purview of a talk show host to be controversial and have strong opinions.   I prefer the programs where the host is more objective and  invites guests of differing points of view to expound as to the reason for their position.

But, back to the title of this post.   I once taught a high school English class on the difference between denotation (the literal meaning of a word) and  connotation (the emotional association with the word evokes).   Think of a person described as a vagrant as opposed to homeless.    One is a nuisance, the other deserving of sympathy.   And I'm sure you know which is which.  What about slim versus scrawny?   Cheap versus good value?  Cabin versus hut.

Writers are aware of these differences and in the confines of a work of fiction their attempts to influence the readers' subconscious must be considered acceptable but once you are aware of this concept you will see it widespread in society in advertising and in political debate.  How does it make you feel?

No comments:

Post a Comment