Posted in Fiction, Grammar, Nonfiction, Story Elements, Terminology Explained, Writing Craft, Writing Tips, tagged connotation, denotation, Fiction, Nonfiction, word meanings, writing on September 28, 2011|
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Whether writing or speaking, the words we use convey images to our audience. The literal, dictionary definition of a particular word is its denotation; the implied meaning or perception associated with it is its connotation. Selecting the right words for the thoughts we want to communicate requires knowing both their literal meaning and the emotional context surrounding them.
Many words have positive, negative, or neutral connotations that add color to their literal meanings. For example, calling someone a chef will generally imply more skill and prestige than saying they are a cook, even though both words denote a person whose job is preparing food to eat. Saying a woman’s hair looks nice can have a neutral, or perhaps negative, connotation even though the word “nice” is generally considered complimentary. Seeing the name of an inner-city gang scrawled across the wall of a building might make a gang member feel pride, but the same sight might incite anger or fear in other people in the community. Factors such as age, culture, education, and life experiences will affect how a person perceives certain words.
Using words that connote more than their literal meaning can affect the tone and mood of what we write, and adds depth to both fiction and nonfiction by stimulating the reader’s imagination and invoking an emotional response.
What are some words you react to based on their connotation more than their denotation? What type of words do you view as “neutral?” Do you think about the meaning of the words you are using more when you are writing than when you are speaking?
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Knock ‘em Dead, the Ultimate Job Search Guide 2011 by Martin Yate, CPC, is an excellent resource book for anyone interested in applying for a job. It provides detailed information about writing resumes, networking, appropriate attire, what to expect at an interview, and how to handle a job offer. The author explains what certain types of interview questions are meant to reveal, and gives tips on how to answer them. He stresses the importance of knowing your own skills and weaknesses, and suggests how to use that knowledge to help you in your job search.
This isn’t the type of book I could read from beginning to end, though I tried. I ended up browsing the chapters, skimming through parts that didn’t seem related to my needs and reading the sections that fit my situation. The part about resumes was especially helpful to me as I hadn’t written one since employers began putting them into databases. I didn’t realize that many employers screen resumes with computer programs looking for keywords to determine whether or not the applicant might be a good fit for the job. The examples of potential interview questions, and the reasoning behind them, were very interesting. I plan to keep this book for future reference.
Although many of the topics are useful for any type of applicant, the majority of the information seems geared toward business professionals. Those looking for unskilled work would probably not find it as beneficial, but over all I would recommend this book.
The publisher provided this book to me for review.
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