How words develop connotations
Words often have both meanings: denotation and connotation. Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word – the “dictionary definition”. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. For example, greasy is a completely innocent word: some things, like car engines, need to be greasy. But, greasy contains negative associations for most people, whether they are talking about food or about people. Thus, besides of denotation of words, what is the purpose of connotation in reading and writing an essay?
Words have a history to exist and develop their meanings. In The Meanings of a Word, Naylor explains the word nigger into two ways: a singular and plural noun. If the word is used in the singular, it is always “applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence, or drive.” And, it is also “a term of endearment” when a woman wants to show her love for her husband, or her boyfriend – “my nigger” (338) It is a complimented sense between individuals in daily conversation. On the contrary, if the word is used in the plural, it is “a description of some group within the community” (338) that are not respected to aim “bad” sense. As Naylor’s third-grade classmate had used this word to call her in her class. The word derives from the Spanish and Portuguese word negro - black. “Black” is just a color word that applies to a dark color such as a black clothes, a blackboard, etc., but it also means something is not good that people use to imply something or people with a “bad” sense. Naylor supports her points in her essay to imply to “a drunken couple who fought in public,” people who are unemployed and refuse to look for other work and wander on street or people who have their lives dirty and careless, etc. Naylor also opposed its use at “this social class of the...
Cited: Allport, Gordon. “The Language of Prejudice,” Language Awareness. Ed. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Publishers, 2013. 324- 333. Print
Naylor, Gloria. “The Meaning of a Word,” Language Awareness. Ed. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Publishers, 2013. 336-339. Print.
Pinker, Steven. “Words Don’t Mean What They Mean,” Language Awareness. Ed. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, Virginia Clark. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Publishers, 2013. 112-115. Print
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