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To be better readers then we need to be more like

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To be better readers, then, we need to be more likeSherlock Holmes: We need to be better observers. In thestory “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier,” Sher-lock Holmes tells a client: “I see no more than you, butI have trained myself to notice what I see.”You don’t haveto be Einstein to be a good reader; you just have to trainyourself to notice what you see.Observing DictionTest your observation skills on these two sentences:A.The town’s new parking policy, which goes intoeffect on Monday, should significantly reducetraffic congestion on Main Street.B.The town’s draconian new parking policy, whichgoes into effect on Monday, should significantlyreduce traffic congestion on Main Street.You don’t need Sherlock Holmes’s magnifyingglass to see the difference between sentence A and sen-tence B: B uses the wordsdraconianandnewto describethe parking policy, while A uses onlynew. (Go back toLesson 3 if you’ve forgotten whatdraconianmeans.)Now that you have noticed this, why is it important?1.What does sentence B tell you that sentence Adoesn’t?a.what type of policy is being discussedb.how the writer feels about the policyc.when the policy beginsThe answer isb. Both sentences tell you that thepolicy is a new parking policy, and both say that thepolicy goes into effect on Monday. But sentence B,because it adds the worddraconian, tells you how thewriterfeelsabout the new policy: He doesn’t like it. Hisopinion is implied through his choice of the worddra-conian. Rather than directly saying, “I think the policyis very severe,” the writersuggestsorimpliesthat this isthe way he feels.DICTION: WHAT’S IN A WORD?96
Denotation and ConnotationNow, suppose sentence A also had another adjective todescribe the new policy:A.The town’s firm new parking policy, which goesinto effect on Monday, should significantlyreduce traffic congestion on Main Street.B.The town’s draconian new parking policy, whichgoes into effect on Monday, should significantlyreduce traffic congestion on Main Street.Do the two sentences now mean the same thing?Yes and no. Bothfirmanddraconiansuggest that thepolicy is strict, but each word has a specific implicationor suggested meaning abouthowstrict that policy is. Afirmpolicy is not as strict as adraconianpolicy. Fur-thermore,draconiansuggests that the policy is not onlystrict but unfairly or unreasonably so.So, the words writers choose, even though theymay mean the same thing when you look them up inthe dictionary, actually have another level of meaning.This is called their connotation.Connotationis theimplied meaning, the meaning that evolves when thedictionary definition (denotation) develops an emo-tional or social register or a suggestion of degree. Thespecific words writers choose—theirdictionor wordchoice—can therefore reveal a great deal about howauthors feel about their subjects.

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Term
Fall
Professor
professor_unknown
Tags
c, The Passage, Asshole, Allendale Northumberland, d Leah Martin, Allendale Cultural Center

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