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Definition: Connotations are an idea or feeling which a word invokes.

When we read a text such as a newspaper or magazine article, the position of the writer may not always be immediately obvious. The writer may use certain strategies to present his stance in a more subtle way or to mask it through the nuance of the language used. One method is to use words with a positive, negative or neutral connotation.

Example of positive and negative connotations:

Connotation Sentence
Neutral I recognised the smell of the boutique
Positive I recognised the scent of the boutique
Negative I recognised the stench of the boutique
Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Task 4 Tasks 5 to 10 Rating Form
Task 1)

EX: Look at the words below and click on the positive or negative. If you are correct, the box will show a .

  Word Positive Negative
1 evil
2 smile
3 brilliant
4 hero
5 immature
6 splendid
7 generous
8 aggressive
9 courageous
10 materialistic
11 inflexible
12 sarcastic
13 smirk
14 thrifty
15 pushy
16 snobby
17 courteous
18 unforgiving
19 resolute
20 egotistical
21 scheming
22 shrewd
23 ruthless
24 compliant
25 exuberant
Task 2)

The connotation of words can easily be seen when we observe pairs of words that have similar meanings but suggest a different attitudes. Listed below are pairs of words that evoke positive or negative feelings. For each pair, select the word that denotes a more positive attitude.

1 bony skinny
2 childlike foolish
3 firm stubborn
4 kind sympathetic
5 narrow-mined racist
6 director boss
7 large meaty
8 bold confident
9 absurd silly
10 tall giant
11 incredible crazy
12 villain Satan
13 inquisitive nosy
14 slave laborer
15 airhead simple-minded
16 youngster brat
17 persevering stubborn
18 stupid gullible
19 dishonest liar
20 moron ignorant
21 rude impolite
22 careful fussy
23 yapper chatterbox
24 passive lazy
25 messy untidy
26 wild barbaric
27 naïve ignorant
28 irresponsible carefree
29 selfish possessive
30 attractive seductive
31 clever cunning
32 smile smirk
33 snort chuckle
34 short dwarf
Task 3)

Categorise the following words into positive, negative, neutral.

Words Positive Neutral Negative
1. home, house, dump
2. animal, pet, beast
3. chick, lady, woman
4. noise, sound, tune
5. thin, scrawny, slender
6. gaudy, glamorous, nice
7. cheap, inexpensive, thrifty
8. Career woman, old maid, career woman

Connotations vs. Denotations

Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, the "dictionary definition." For example, if you look up “dove” in a dictionary, its denotative meaning is “any pure white bird of the family Columbidae”. On the other hand, a possible connotation of “dove” is “an innocent, gentle or tender person”.

Task 4) Animal Stereotypes: Connotation

In the task below, match the denotation with their connotative meaning.

Reading Articles

For each of the tasks, read the text and indicate whether the given word has a positive, neutral or a negative connotation.

Task 5)

Air travel calls for cool heads
Some travelers and expatriates can be the bane of their country’s image abroad. Think of the ugly American, the title of a book and later a 1960s movie starring Marlon Brando about Americans in Southeast Asia. It became a pejorative term used to refer to the loud and ostentatious type of visitor who made compatriots cringe. Now China is getting a different kind of taste of what it is like, thanks to smartphone images and social media coverage of uncivilized and dangerous incidents on international and domestic flights.
Word Positive Neutral Negative
bane
American
loud
ostentatious
China


Task 6)

Something bad is going to happen in Sherlock. How could it not? The Sign Of Three was so cockle-warming an outing for Holmes and Watson, with such a cheering resolution (a baby! a disco! so many declarations of love!), that it had to be setting us up for a fall. A figurative one, this time.

Sherlock’s indestructibility established, the ‘something bad’ dangles Damoclean over other heads than his. There’s John of course, Mycroft, Molly, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson and the Woman, all of whom mean something to us and our hero. Another character though, one whose arrival could have signalled disruption and resentment but whose warmth, humour and winning portrayal by Amanda Abbington meant she ruffled not a feather, feels less safe.

Source: http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/sherlock/28787/what-do-we-know-about-sherlock%25E2%2580%2599s-mary-morstan#ixzz3PALdFHB7

Word Positive Neutral Negative
cockle-warming
cheering
figurative
disruption
humour
winning


Task 7)

For the first time in 70 years, Hampton Court Palace was closed to visitors. Outside its gates stood an intriguing figure: a slight woman, of Indian origin, wearing expensive furs. She was selling suffragette newspapers out of a satchel, and shouting: “Votes for Women!” It was the extraordinary Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, with her own beguiling combination of royalty and revolutionary fervor.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/11310273/Sophia-Princess-Suffragette-Revolutionary-by-Anita-Anand-review.html

Word Positive Neutral Negative
intriguing
slight
Indian
expensive
extraordinary
beguiling
royalty


Task 8)

There is a lot of anxiety in northern Cameroon because of the growing frequency of Boko Haram attacks – and growing number of those who take part in them. The military is also frustrated at not being able to chase the insurgents once they cross back into Nigeria.

Thousands of Cameroonian troops have been deployed to the north to stem the raids – which Boko Haram’s leader warned in a video this month will increase in intensity. But Cameroon’s border with Nigeria is long and porous, so it has been difficult to police.

News that Chadian troops are arriving to help patrol it has cheered residents. Tanks and armoured vehicles with Chadian soldiers have been seen arriving over the weekend. Chad’s military has an impressive record of taking on insurgents – most recently in northern Mali.

Civilians now hope the countries will come to a deal allowing their armed forces to cross borders so that the militants can be contained.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30873243

Word Positive Neutral Negative
anxiety
military
raids
long
porous
cheered
impressive


Task 9)

The Academy’s first black president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, tackled backlash from this year’s exceedingly white slate of Oscar nominees in an interview with the Associated Press Friday night, pledging greater outreach to women and minorities.

“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Boone Isaacs told the AP. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”

Not a single actor or actress of color was recognized by the Academy this year, despite a number of acclaimed films featuring non-white casts and directors. Many prominent industry figures, including George Lucas and Spike Lee, blasted the Academy for ignoring Selma director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo, who portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr. in the widely praised film.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/01/17/3612858/oscars-nominees-boone-isaacs/

Word Positive Neutral Negative
black
backlash
white
inclusive
cultural
acclaimed
praised


Task 10)

Some of the most memorable news imagery of the post-war years came from the struggle for black equality, when photojournalism doubled as iconography.

So shocking were the front page pictures from Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963 of police German shepherd dogs tearing at the clothes and flesh of young protesters that it roused public support for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act that dismantled segregation in the south.

So grotesque was the sight of a column of civil rights protesters being bludgeoned by state troopers in Selma, Alabama, on what became known as "Bloody Sunday" that pressure for a new voting rights act became irresistible. Police brutality has often been the precursor to sweeping racial reform.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-30856519

Word Positive Neutral Negative
memorable
post-war
black
tearing
protestors
grotesque
irresistible
brutality
racial
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