Profanity and Vulgar Expressions

Profanity and Vulgar Expressions

Appropriate language does not include profanity or vulgar expressions. There was a time when uttering “hell” or “damn” would have resulted in severe punishment for children and social isolation for adults. Today we tend to tolerate commonplace profanities and vulgarities, and there are many subcultures where the use of profanity and vulgarity are commonplace. Under the influence of film and television writers who aim to scintillate and entertain, we have become inoculated to these expressions, In fact, it is common to hear elementary schoolchildren utter strings of “four letter” words in school hallways, lunchrooms, and on playgrounds.

Why do people swear and engage in coarse language? Deckle (1991, p. 165) suggests that swearing is one way of asserting independence by breaking adult taboos. In a society that prizes adulthood and independence, the movement to increase vulgar and profane use of language at younger and younger ages is not surprising. Despite this trend in our society, we believe profane and vulgar language continues to be inappropriate in most settings (especially public speaking). Even; in informal conversation, it is offensive to many people, although our current social conventions would preclude them from stating this. Unfortunately, profanity and vulgarity are habits that are easily acquired and hard to extinguish. In fact, an alarming number of people use such language as filler expressions, which add little or no meaning to the content of the message. These expression are liberally peppered into the verbal message out of habit. Thus for some folks the ubiquitous has one 0 serve theme purpose as like and you know.

• What does the use of profanity communicate? well when used  infrequently, profanity and vulgar expressions communicate s.,  Vernon which there may be no other appropriate words. Profanity and vulgarity are meant to shock and to communicant one’s deep disgust or contempt. When profanity and vulgarity are used frequently, others assume that the person using these expressions intends them to threaten or intimidate. Unfortunately, for far too many people, profanity and vulgarity have lost all meaning and have become nothing more than symbols that the individual is unable to express his or her thoughts or feelings at any but the basest and most ignorant level. Competent communicators avoid using profanity and vulgarity because their use is more likely to damage than to strengthen relationships.


Language is appropriate when it is sensitive to usages that others perceive as offensive. Some of the mistakes in language that we make result from using expressions that are perceived to be sexist, racist, or otherwise biased that is any language that is perceived as belittling any person or group of people by virtue of their sex, race, age, handicap, or other identifying characteristic. Two of the most prevalent linguistic uses that communicate an insensitivity are generic language and nonparallel language.

Generic language Generic language uses words that may apply only to one sex, race, or gender as through they represent both sexes, races, or genders. Such use is a problem because It linguistically excludes part of the group of people it ostensibly includes. Let’s consider some examples.

Traditionally, English grammar called for the use of the masculine pronoun he to stand for the entire class of humans regardless of sex. So, in the past, standard English called for such usage as, When a person shops, he should have a clear idea of what he wants:to buy. Even though these statements are grammatically correct, they are now considered sexist because they inherently exclude females. Despite traditional usage, it would be hard to maintain that we picture people of both sexes when we hear the masculine word he.

One way to avoid this problem is to recast the sentence using plurals. Instead of Because a doctor has high status, his views may be believed regardless of topic, you could say Because doctors have high status, their views may be believed regardless of topic. Alternatively, you can use both male and female pronouns. Because a doctor has high status, his or her views may be believed regardless of topic. These changes may seem small, but they may mean the difference between alienating and not alienating the people with whom you are speaking. Stewart, Cooper, Stewart, and Friendly (1998) cite research to show that using he and she; and to a lesser extent they, gives rise to listeners including women in their mental afterimages easterner gender balance in their petitions.

When considering such words as policeman, postman, and chairman, you can substitute police officer, mail carrier, and chairperson. When considering such word as mankind and man made, substitute humankind and made by hand.

Nonparallel language Nonparallel language occurs when terms are changed because of the sex, race, or other characteristic of the individual. Because it treats groups of people differently, nonparallel language is also belittling. Two common forms of nonparallel are marking and unnecessary association.

Marking means adding sex, race, age, or other designations unnecessarily to a general word. For instance, saying female doctor or black lawyer would be marking. Marking is offensive to some people because the speaker appears to be trivializing the person’s role by emphasizing an irrelevant characteristic.  For instance, this usage seems to imply that Jones is a good doctor for a woman or Smith is a good lawyer for a black person. Because you would be very unlikely to ever say Jones is a good male doctor and Smith is a good white lawyer, leave sex, race, age, and other markers out of your labeling.

Very few people can escape all unfair language. By monitoring your usage, however, you can guard against frustrating your attempts to communicate by  assuming that others will react to your language the same way you do, and you can guard against saying or doing things that offend others and perpetuate outdated sex roles, racial stereotypes, and other biased language.

How can you speak more appropriately? (1) Assess whether the word or phrase used is less appropriate than it should be; (2) pause to mentally brainstorm alternatives; and (3) select a more appropriate word.

Causes and Effects of Insensitive Language

You’ve heard children shout, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This rhyme may be popular among children because they know it is a lie, but it gives them a defense against cruel name-calling. Whether we admit it or not, words do hurt, sometimes permanently. Insensitive language is often a sign of prejudice that results in efforts to discriminate and as a result may be considered unethical as well. Think of the great personal damage done to individuals throughout history as a result of being called hillbilly,nigger, fag, or yid. Think of the fights started by one person calling another’s sister or girlfriend a whore.Of course, we all know that it is not the words alone that are so powerful; it is the context of the words-the situation, the feelings of the participants, the time, the place, or the tone of voice. You may recall circumstances in which a friend called you a name or used a four-letter word to describe you and you did not even flinch; you :may also recall other circumstances in which someone else made you furious by calling you something far less offensive.

Where does offensive racist language come from? According to Molehill As ante (1998), an internationally known scholar, racist language has its roots in our personal beliefs and attitudes. To a great extent, these have been conditioned by the knowledge system to which we have been exposed. Until recently, this knowledge system has had a Afrocentric bias (1998, pp. 95-96). Thus the contributions to the development of humankind by cultures other than European have been ignored or minimized.

We’should always be aware that our language has repercussions. When we do not understand or are not sensitive to listeners frame of reference, we may state our ideas in language that distorts the intended communication. Many times a single inappropriate sentence may be enough to ruin an entire interaction. For instance, if you say. And we all know the problem originates downtown, you  may be alluding to the city government. However, if the listeners associate downtown not with the seat of government but with the residential area of an ethnic or social group, the sentence will have an entirely different meaning to them. Being specific will help you avoid such problems; recognizing that some words communicate far more than their dictionary meanings will help even more.

Summary Verbal Communication

Language is a system of symbols used for communicating. Through language, we designate, label, and define; evaluate; talk about things outside our immediate experience; and talk about language itself.

You will be a more effective communicator if you recognize that language symbols are arbitrary, that language is learned and is creative, and that language and perception are interrelated.

The denotation of a word is its dictionary meaning. Despite the ease with which we can check a dictionary meaning, word denotation can still present problems because most words have more than one dictionary meaning. Changes in meanings occur faster than dictionaries are revised, words take on different meaning  they arc used in different contexts, and meanings can obscured as words become more  abstract.

You can improve your clarity of language by selecting the most specific, concrete, and precise word possible and by dating and indexing generalizations.

Cultural differences in language result from similarities and differences in behavior between low-context and high context cultures. Gender differences in language are less than previously noted, although in usage, women tend to use more intensifiers and hedges than men do, and women tend to add tag questions to sentences more than men do.

Speaking appropriately means using language that adapts to the needs, interests, knowledge, and attitudes of the listener and avoiding language that alienates. Inappropriate language can be minimized by avoiding such exclusionary usages as generic he and generic man and by eliminating such nonparallel usages as marking and unnecessary association.

Dating and Index Information & Inappropriate for the Situation

Dating Information

Because nearly everything changes with time, it is important that we date the information we communicate by telling when it was true. Not dating leads to inaccuracies that can be dangerous. For instance, Parker says, I’m going to be transferred, to Henderson City. Laura replies, Good luck-they’ve had some real trouble with their schools. On the basis of Laura’s statement, Parker may worry about the effect is move will have on his children. What he doesn’t know is that Laura’s information about this problem in Henderson City is five years old. Henderson City still may have problems, but then, it may not. Had Laura replied, Five year  ago, I know they had some real trouble with their schools, I’m not sure what the situation is now, but you may want to check, Parker would look at the information differently.

Indexing Generalizations

Generalizing drawing a conclusion from particulars tables people use what they have learned from one experience and apply it to another. For instance, when Glenda learns that tomatoes and squash grow better if the ground is fertilized, she generalizes that fertilizing will help all of her vegetables grow better. Glenda has used what she learned from one experience and applied it to another.

Indexing generalizations is the mental and verbal practice of acknowledging that individual cases can differ from the general trend while still allowing us to draw on generalizations. For instance, we may have a generalized concept of men. But we must recognize that although Fred, Darnell, and William are all men, they are likely to have individual differences. So, how do we index in ordinary speaking? Let’s consider two examples.

To index, (1) consider whether what you want to say is about a specific object, person, or place, or whether it is a generalization about a class to which the object, person, or place belongs. (2) If what you want to say is a generalization about the class, qualify it appropriately so that your assertion does not go beyond the evidence that supports it. All people generalize at one time or another, but by indexing statements we can avoid the problems that hasty generalization
sometimes creates.

Cultural Differences in Verbal Communication

Cultures vary in how much meaning is embedded in the language itself and how much meaning is interpreted from the context in which the communication occurs.

In low-context cultures, such as in Northern Europe or the United States,  meaning (1) is embedded mainly in the messages transmitted and (2) is presented directly. In low-context cultures, people say what they mean and get right to the point (Unsteady & Satsuma, 1996, pp. 29-30). So, in a low context culture, “Yes” means” Affirmative, I agree’ with what you Ave said.

The United States has a low-context national culture, as described previously. But the United States is a country of immigrants, and we know that individual Americans differ in whether they are high or low context in their approach to language. So, although knowing the characteristics of a national culture or culture of origin may be useful, we still need to be aware that people mayor may n t behave in line with their ethnic cultures (Amontillados, 1999, p. 75). Then why mention these differences at all? Because they give us a clue to  how and why people and cultures may differ. An essential aspect of communication is being sensitive to needs and differences among us, so we must be aware of the nature of those differences might be.

Gender Differences in Verbal Communication

Over the two decades, stirred by such book titles as Men Are from Mars, people have come to believe gender differences in messages are genetic. Yet research strongly states that differences in gender behaviors are learn rather than biological and that the differences are not nearly as large as portrayed (Wood & Dindia, 1998, pp. 34-36).

There is no evidence to suggest that the differences aftershave been identified between women’s message construction patterns and those of men cause problems for either group (Canary & Hausa, 1993, p. 141). Nevertheless, a number of specific differences between women’s and men’s speech patterns have been found, and understanding what has led to them has intrigued scholars. Mu lac (1998) notes two differences in language usage between men and women that seem to have the greatest support.

1. Women tend to use both more intensifiers and more hedges than men. Intensifiers are words that modify other words and serve to strengthen the idea represented by the original word. So, according to studies of the actual speech practices of men and women, women are more likely to use words such as awfully, quite, and so (as in It was quite lovely or This is so important). Hedges are modifying words that soften or weaken the meaning of the idea represented by the original word. According to the research, women are likely to make greater use of such words as somewhat, perhaps, or maybe (as in It was somewhat interesting that or It may be significant.

Women ask questions more frequently than men. Women are much more likely to include questions like Do you think so? and Are you sure? In general, women rend to use questions to gain more information, get bonbon ration, and determine how others feel about the information.

But are these differences really important? Mu lac goes on to report that our research has shown that language used by U.S. women and men is remarkably. similar, In fact, it is so indistinguishable that native speakers of American English cannot correctly identify which language examples were produced by women and which were produced by men” (p. 130). If this is so, then why even mention differences? Even though the differences are relatively small, they have judgmental consequences: “Observers perceive the female and male speakers differently based on their language use” (p. 147). Female speakers are rated higher on sociology intellectual status and aesthetic quality. Thus people perceive women as having high social status, being literate, and being pleasant as a result of perceived language differences. Men rated higher on dynamism. That is, people perceive mentor be stronger and more aggressive as a result of their language differences. These judgments tend to be the same whether observers are male or female, middle-aged or young.

Julia Wood (1997) explains these differences in language usage  from differences in the basic psychological orientation each sex gender identity by seeing themselves as  connected to mother, or-hey learn to use communication as a way of relationships with others. Men establish identity by  how are different or separate from mother. Thus they use talk as a way to exert control, preserve independence, and enhance status.

Speaking Appropriately

During the last few years, we have had frequent discussions and disagreements in the United States about” political correctness. Colleges and universities have been on the forefront of this debate. Although several issues germane to the debate on political correctness go beyond the scope of this chapter, at the heart of this controversy is the question of what language behaviors are appropriate and what language behaviors are inappropriate.

Speaking appropriately means choosing language and symbols that are adapted to the needs, interests, knowledge, and attitudes of listeners in order to avoid language that alienates them. Through appropriate language, we communicate our respect and acceptance of those who are different from us. In this section, we discuss specific strategies that will help you craft appropriate verbal messages.

Formality of Language

Language should be’ appropriately formal for the situation. Thus, in interpersonal settings, we are likely to use more informal language when we are talking with o.ur_best friend and more formal language when we are talking with our parents. In a group setting, we are likely to use more informal language when we are talking with a group of our peers and more formal language when we are talking with a group of managers. In a public-speaking setting, we are likely to use more formal language than in either interpersonal or group settings.

One type of formality in language that we usually observe is the manner by which we address others. In formal settings, we address others by their titles followed by their surnames unless they invite us to do something else. So in business settings or at formal parties, it is appropriate to call people Mr. X, Ms. B, Rabbi Z, Dr. S, or Professor P. In addition, we generally view it as appropriate to refer to those older than we are, those of higher status, or those whom we respect by title and surname unless otherwise directed.

Jargon and Slang

Appropriate language should be chosen so that jargon (technical terminology) and slang (informal, nonstandard vocabulary) do not interfere with understanding. We form language communities as a result of the work we do, our hobbies, and the subcultures with which we identify. But we can forget that people who are not in cur same line of work or who do not have the same hobbies or are not from our group may not understand language that seems to be such a part of our daily communication. For instance, when Jenny, who is sophisticated in the USA of.c language, starts talking with her computer-illiterate friend Sarah about Social Ml.Ds
based on fictional universes,Sarah is likely to be totally Jose. If, however, Jenny recognizes Sarah’s lack of sophistication in cyber language, she can work to make her language appropriate by discussing the concepts in words that her friend understands. In short, when talking with people outside your language community, you need to carefully explain, if not abandon, the technical jargon or slang.

Meaning Varies across Subgroups in the Language Community

Meaning Varies across Subgroups in the Language Community

As we mentioned earlier, within a larger language community, subgroups with unique cultures are sometimes formed. These subgroups develop variations on the core language that enable them to share meanings unique to their sub cultural experience. People from different subcultures approach the world from different perspectives, so they are likely to experience some difficulty sharing meaning when they talk with each other. As the Diverse Voices feature showed,  one of the most confounding uses of language and its interpretation for people from different cultures is the use of idioms.

In addition to subgroups based on race, religion, and national origin, there are also subgroup cultures associated with generation, social class, and political  interests. The need for awareness and sensitivity in applying our communication skills does not depend on someone’s being an immigrant or from a different  ethnic background. Rather, the need for being aware of potential language differences is important in every type of communication. Developing our language skills so that the messages we send are clear and sensitive will increase our communication effectiveness in every situation.

Speaking More Clearly

Regardless of whether we are conversing, communicating in groups, or giving speeches, we can speak more clearly by reducing the ambiguity and confusion. Compare these two descriptions of a close call in an automobile. Some nut almost got with his car a while ago versus An older man in a banged up Honda Civic crashed the light at Calhoun and Clifton and came within inches of hitting me last week while I was waiting to turn left at the cross street. The differences are in clarity. In the second example, the message used language that was specific, concrete, and precise as well as statements that are dated and Dexedrine.

Specificity, Concreteness, and Precision in Language Use

Specific words clarify meaning by narrowing what is understood from a general categorize y to a particular unite or group within that category. Thus saying its a Honda Civic is more specific than saying It’s a car.Concrete words are sense related. In effect we can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch concrete words.

Thus we can picture that banged up to Civic. Abstract ideas, such as justice, equality, or fairness, can be made concrete through examples or metaphors. Precise words are those that most accurately express meaning they capture shades of difference. It is more precise to note that the Civic came within inches of hitting me than it is to say some nut almost got me.

Often, as we try our thoughts, the first words that come to mind are general, abstract, and imprecise. The ambiguity of these words makes the listener choose from many possible images rather than picturing the single focused image- we have in ·mind. The more listeners are called on to provide their own images, the more likely they are to-see meanings different from what we intend.

For instance, if Nev ah says that Ruben is a blue collar worker, you might picture any number of occupations that fall within this broad category. If, instead, she is more specific and says he’s a construction worker, the number of possible images you can picture is reduced. Now you select your image from the subcategory of construction worker, and your meaning is likely to be closer to the one she intended. If she is even more specific, she may say Ruben is a bulldozer operator. Now you see Ruben driving the dosser, and you are clearer on Ruben’s occupation.

In the preceding example, the continuum of specificity goes from blue collar worker to construction worker to construction vehicle operator to bulldozer operator. Provides another illustration of this continuum.

Art Painting Oil painting

Impressionist oil painting Renoir’s La Promenade

As we move from general to specific, we also move from abstract to concrete. Considerations word speak. This is a general, abstract term. To make it more concrete, we can use words such as mumble, whisper, bluster, drone, jeer, or rant. Say these words aloud. Notice the different sound of your voice when you say whisper as opposed to bluster, jeer, or rant.

Finally, we seek words that are precise those that most accurately or correctly capture the sense of what we are saying. In seeking the most precise word to describe Phillip’s speech, at first we might say, Phillip blustered. Well, to be more precise, he ranted. Notice that we are not moving from general to specific; both words are on roughly the same level of abstraction.

We talking about abstract versus concrete; both words are concrete. Rather, we are now concerned with precision in meaning. Blustering means talking in a way that is loudly boastful; ranting means talking in a way that is noise or bombastic. So, what we are considering shades of meaning: Depending on how the person was talking, blustering or ranting would be the more precise word. Let’s try another one. Susan laughed at my story; well, to be more precise, she chuckled. What do you see as the difference between laughing and chuckling? A laugh is a loud show of mirth; a chuckle is a more gentle sound expressing suppressed mirth. Similar? Yes. But different showing shades of meaning.

Although specific, concrete, and precise words enable us to reduce ambiguity and sharpen. meaning through individual words, sometimes clarity is best achieved by adding a detail or an example. For instance, Linda says, Rashad is very loyal. The.meaning of loyal (faithful to an idea, person, company, and so on) is abstract, so to avoid ambiguity and confusion, Linda might add, “He never criticizes a friend behind her back. By following up her use of the abstract concept of loyalty with a concrete example, Linda makes it easier for her listeners this quality a concrete at experience.

Developing the Ability to Speak More Clearly

Being able to speak more clearly requires us to build our working vocabulary and to brainstorm to generate word choices from our active vocabulary. Vocabulary building As a speaker, the larger your vocabulary, the more choices you have from which to select the word you want. As a listener, the larger your vocabulary, the more likely you are to understand the words used by others .

One way to increase your vocabulary is to study one of the many vocabulary building books on the shelves of most any bookstore, such as Merriam Being able to speak more clearly requires us to build our working vocabulary and to brainstorm to generate word choices from our active vocabulary. Vocabulary building As a speaker, the larger your vocabulary, the more choices you have from which to select the word you want. As a listener, the larger your vocabulary, the more likely you are to understand the words used by others .

One way to increase your vocabulary is to study one of the many vocabulary building books on the shelves of most any bookstore, such as Merriam Webster’s Vocabulary Builder (Corn, 1998). You might also study magazine features such as Word Power in the Reader’s Digest. By completing this monthly quiz and learning the words with which you are not familiar, you could increase your vocabulary by as many as twenty words per month. A second way to increase your vocabulary is to make note of words that you read or that people use in their conversations with you and look them up.

For instance, suppose yo,u read or hear, I was inundated with phone calls today. If you wrote down and looked it lip in a dictionary later, you would find that inundated” means overwhelmed or flooded. If you then say to yourself. She was inundated overwhelmed or flooded with phone calls today, you are likely to remember that meaning and apply it the next time you hear the word. If you follow this practice, you will soon notice the increase in your vocabulary.

Mental brainstorming Having a larger vocabulary won’t help your speaking if you do not have a procedure for using it. One way to practice accessing choices from your memory is to brainstorm during practice sessions and later in  conversation. Brainstorming uncritical, non evaluative process of generating alternatives. Suppose someone asked you about how well preregistration was working. You might initially say, Preregistration is awful. If you don’t think that awful is the right word, you might be able to quickly brainstorm the words frustrating, demeaning, cumbersome, and annoying. Then you could say, What I really meant to say is that preregistration is overly cumbersome.

Clearly stating our verbal messages is hard work, but as you build your vocabulary and learn to mentally brainstorm, you will find that you are able to make such adjustments even in the middle of sentences when you need to. For instance, to describe Mike’s behavior you might say, Mike was just a jerk yesterday well, I guess I me in he was inconsiderate. Or when you are analyzing Pauline’s talents you hasty, I agree that Pauline is a tough manager, but i think she’s good because she is fair she treats everyone exactly alike.

When we are relaxed  confident, our choice flows smoothly likely to be most effective. When we are under pressure, however, our ability to select the best symbols to convey our thoughts is likely to deteriorate. People sometimes think one thing and say something entirely different. For example, a math professor might say, We all remember that the numerator is on the bottom and the denominator is on the top of the fraction, so when we divide fractions. Professor a voice from the third row interrupts, You said the numerator is on the bottom and Is that what I said? the professor replies. Well you know what I meant. Did everyone in the class know? Probably not.

You will really know that you have made strides in improving specificity, precision, and concreteness when you find that you can form clear messages even under pressure.

Verbal Communication & Language and Meaning

Verbal Communication & Language and Meaning 

Kyle, why do you keep obfuscating the plan?

Now just a minute, Derek. There’s no need for you to get obscene with me. I may not have looked at the job the same way you did, but I wouldn’t, uh  I’m not going to lower myself to repeat your language.

Obfuscating means confusing. What in the world did Derek mean when he accused Kyle of obfuscating the plan? And why did Kyle think Derek was talking obscenely? Many years ago. A Richards (1965) observed that communication is the study of misunderstanding and its remedy. And in this instance, we have a classic example of misunderstanding. The remedy? Clearer and more appropriate language.

Whether you are trying to iron out a problem with a friend or explain your views on reducing domestic violence in a group discussion or a public speech, your effectiveness will depend on your verbal and nonverbal communication usage, In this chapter, we discuss verbal communication how people use language, the relationship between language and meaning with emphasis on denotation, connotation, and cultural and gender differences, and the skills that help us speak.clearly and appropriately.

The Nature of Language

Language is the body of words and the systems for their use that are common to the people of the same language community.

Uses of Language

Although language communities vary in the words that they use and in their grammar and syntax systems, all languages serve the same purposes.

1. We use language to designate, label, define, and limit. Thus, when we identify a, house as a Tudor, we are differentiating it from another that may be identified as an A frame.

2. We use language to evaluate. Through language we give positive we give  positive
slants. For instance, if you see Hal taking  time than others make a decision, you could describe Hal positively as thoughtful or negatively as dawdling.

3. We use language to discuss things outside our immediate experience. Language enables us to speak hypothetically, to talk about past and future events, and to communicate about people and things that are not present. Thus, we can use language to discuss where we hope to be in five years, to analyze a conversation two acquaintances had last week, or to learn about the history that shapes the world we live in.

4. We can use language to talk about language. We can use language to discuss how someone phrased a statement and whether better phrasing would have resulted in a clearer meaning or a more positive response. For instance, if your friend said she would see you this afternoon, but she didn’t arrive until 5 o’clock, when you ask her where she’s been, the two of you are likely to discuss the meaning of this afternoon.

Language and Meaning

On the surface, the relationship between language and meaning seems perfectly clear. We select the correct word, and people will interpret our meaning correctly. In fact, the relationship between language and meaning is not nearly so simple for two reasons: Language must be learned, and the use of language is a creative act. First, we are not born knowing a language. Rather, each generation within a language community .learns the language anew. We learn much of our language early in life from our families much more we learn in school. But we do not all learn to use the same words in the same way.

A second reason the relationship between language and meaning is complicated is that even though languages have systems of syntax and grammar each utterance is a creative act. When we speak, we use language to create new sentences that represent our meaning. Although on occasion we repeat other people’s sentence constructions to represent what we are thinking or feeling, some of our talk is unique.

A third reason complication is that people interpret the meaning of words differences have two kinds of meaning denotative and connotative. Thus, when Melissa tells Trisha that her dog died, what Trisha understands Melissa to lean depends on both word denotation and connotation.

Denotation The direct, explicit meaning a language community formally gives  a word is its denotation is the meaning found in a dictionary. So, denotative, when .Clarissa said her dog died, she meant that her domesticated canine no longer demonstrates physical life. In some situations the denotative meaning of a word clear. Why? First, dictionary definitions refile Frequent and past practice in the language community; and second, the dictionary uses words to define words. The end result is that words are defined differently in various dictionaries end of tell include multiple meanings that get over time.

Moreover, meaning may vary depending on the context in which the word  is used. For example, the dictionary definition of gay includes both having or showing a, merry, lively mood and homosexual. Thus, context, the position of a word in a sentence and the other words around it, has an important effect on correctly interpreting which denotation of a word is meant. Not only will the other words and the syntax and grammar of a verbal message help us to understand the denotative meaning of certain words, but so will the situation in which they are spoken. Whether the comment. He’s really gay” is understood to be a comment on someone’s sexual orientation or on his merry mood may depend on the circumstances in which it is said.

Connotation The feelings or evaluations we associate with a word represent the connotation and may be even more important to our understanding of meaning. C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards (1923) were among the first scholars to consider the misunderstandings resulting from the failure of communicators to realize that their subjective reactions to words are based on their life experiences.

For instance, when Melissa tells Trisha that her dog died, Trisha’s understanding of the message depends on the extent to which her feelings about pets and death her connotations of the words-correspond to the feelings that Melissa has about pets and death. Melissa, who sees dogs as truly indispensable friends, may be trying to communicate a true sense of grief, but Trisha, who has never had a pet and doesn’t particularly care for dogs, may miss the sense of Melissa’s statement.

Word denotation and connotation are important because the only message that counts is the message that is understood, regardless.