Thursday, July 31, 2008

Select words with due regard to their connotation (power of suggestion)

From pp. 248-9 of the first edition (1941) of the Harbrace Handbook of English by University of Tennessee Professor John C. Hodges:

20 e (4) Select words with due regard to their connotation (power of suggestion).

Words are feelings, emotions, sensations, ideas. Some words, beside their literal meaning, have the power to suggest varied associations. They are surrounded, as it were, by an aura of feelings. They stir up unexplainable emotions, pleasant and unpleasant, and connect the present situation with something remote in consciousness. They seem to be an intrinsic part of ourselves, and are tied up with all our experiences. For instance, the word hearth, which literally means the floor of a fireplace, suggests in addition the fireside, warmth, safty, good cheer, a family and friends, and the home itself. Stove, on the other hand, is much poorer in suggestive power.

BARREN He sat musing by the stove.
RICHER He sat musing by the hearth.

BARREN Regas sells hot steaks.
RICHER Regas sells sizzling steaks.

BARREN The boat sailed close to the shore.
RICHER The boat hugged the shore.

BARREN The baby likes to play.
RICHER The baby is as playful as a kitten.

BARREN John entered the house quietly.
RICHER John sneaked into the house.

BARREN The man at the door is an unemployed person.
RICHER The man at the door is a tramp.

Exercise. Tell briefly what feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, come to you when you read the following words.
1. pig
2. Ford
3. Nazi
4. Sissy
5. duck
6. Fifth Avenue
7. TVA
8. flag
9. beans
10. justice
11. date
12. key
13. Rose Bowl
14. honey
15. liberty
16. Finland
17. expectorate
18. upper crust
19. New Orleans
20. sport
21. dog
22. dirty
23. propaganda
24. courage

1 comment:

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