DENOTATION AND CONNOTATION EXERCISE
Can everything have a connotative meaning? Poets gravitate toward words with strong connotative possibilities because they are so rich with connotative possibility, like leaves falling in autumn (graceful and beautiful, but signifying a kind of death) or roses (undulating and sensual, but don't grab one by the stem). What is the connotation of, say, the following sentence ?:
The man drank whiskey quietly.
The denotative meaning is simple: a guy drank whiskey and didn"t make much noise. But to get at the connotative meaning, think about the emotional impact of the line, and about the associations you have with these words. Drinking can be celebratory; parties are sometimes accompanied by alcohol. But this man does not seem to be in the company of others. The word "quietly," in association with alcohol, seems to mean "alone." Intensifying this feeling is the fact that "the man" is anonymous to the reader (he isn't "Jack"), and he is drinking whiskey. How might it have been different if he were drinking scotch, a kind of whiskey that is generally associated with sophistication? What if he were drinking a milder, "fun" drink like a pina colada? "Quietly" and "whiskey" allow us to read a connotation into a simple sentence. If a poem makes you feel a certain way, ask yourself why.

Look at the following sentences. The words in the menu for each sentence denote the same meaning, however they have different connotations. Choose one of the words in the menu and then, in your notebook, write about how the word you chose changes the connotative meaning of the sentence. Your notebook will be collated so that you can print or e-mail your work when you are finished.

She his favorite T-shirt.




After reading her e-mail he waited ten days, then a letter in response.




They wandered through the park one day.



 
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