Share this Page URL

Chapter 4. Words, Words, Words > More Than Meets the Eye: Denotation and Connot... - Pg. 38

Words, Words, Words Sample Answers 2. Guam 3. carp 4. Toledo 5. amble 6. rocket scientist 8. State University of New York College of Technology at Farmingdale 9. G-string 10. Moon Unit Zappa 38 The writer George Orwell once said, "Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen- house." In general, replace vague, unclear words with specific, precise words that hit the meaning right on the head. Here are some vague words to avoid: really nice sort of fine kind of great Write Angles The sound of your words also influences the effect they create. Depending on your purpose and audience, you can use onomatopoeia, words that suggest the sounds they describe, to make your writing more descriptive. Examples include woosh, buzz, and hoot. Concrete language is not always preferable to abstract language, and specific language is not al- ways preferable to general language, however. Effective writing matches the words to the purpose and audience. There are times when you'll want to be intentionally vague, especially on some busi- ness communication. In these instances, you will select words and craft sentences that leave the meaning nebulous to avoid placing blame--or assuming it. More Than Meets the Eye: Denotation and Connotation Denotation is a word's definition. When you look up a word in the dictionary to find out what it means, you are looking up its denotation. For example, the denotation of aggressive is "the action of a state in violating by force the rights of another state, particularly its territorial rights; an unprovoked of- fensive, attack, invasion, or the like." All words have a denotation. In addition, some words have a connotation . A word's connotation is its emotional overtones. For example, assertive and aggressive are close in denotation, but their connotations are worlds apart: assertive is positive, considered a desirable trait; aggressive has a negative connotation, conveying the impression of brutality, excessive force, or hostility. Likewise, slender and scrawny both mean "thin," but slender makes you sound like a model; scrawny makes you sound like a plucked chicken. Strong-minded is positive; stubborn is negative.