What is denotation?

What Does denotation Mean

From the Latin denotatio , denotation is the action and effect of denoting (a verb that, said of a word or phrase, makes mention of its objective meaning). The concept works as the opposite of the connotation .

Denotation is linked to the meaning of the referential mechanism with the information transmitted by a linguistic unit. It is an explicit meaning , unlike connotation, whose meaning is suggested since the semantic value is not given by a lexical signifier.
Trademarks are an example of how denotation and connotation work. A bar named The Old Bridge Pub has a denotative meaning (the name that specifically identifies it as The Old Bridge Pub) and another connotative (the English phrase suggests that it is a British-style pub). Most of the brands , in general, go beyond denotation and connote different senses (the restaurant El bar del abuelo does not connote the same as the Palais d'or ).

Denotation, in short, refers to the direct meaning of a term, one that is found in a dictionary and that mentions the relationship between the linguistic sign and its referent.
The denotative meaning of dog indicates that it is a domestic mammal of the canine family, while, from the connotation of the term, it can be pointed out that a soccer player is a dog when he does not have a good level. A rose , to cite another example, also has a denotation (it is an organic plant being) and several possible connotations (love, melancholy, etc.).
It should be noted that denotation and connotation complement each other , they are necessary to give richness to a language since our communication is based on the transmission of what we perceive from our environment and the images that we elaborate in our mind; In other words, we use language to share content with others that is not usually objective, even when we think it is.
Although objectivity and denotation go hand in hand, this association can be looked at from two different angles: by referring to a car using that same term we make sure that our interlocutor understands exactly what we are talking about, without the need to make any abstractions or relationship with elements outside the conversation; it could safely be said that we are being denotative.
However, what happens if a month before maintaining this dialogue the interlocutor has lost a loved one in a car accident? This fact, although it is not present in the conversation, cannot go unnoticed by the other person: inevitably, it will add a negative connotation to the hitherto innocent noun, and their understanding of the message may be affected. How to be denotative in a world that perceives reality in infinite ways?

No one can ensure the integrity of a message once it comes out of our mouth or we capture it on paper or in the pixels of a monitor. Through denotation we reduce the chances of misunderstandings, but it is impossible to eliminate them completely.
On the other hand, denotation is always subject to context , and this shows certain subjective nuances within its structure. In the thousands of years that our species has been on this planet, its conception of itself, of other living beings and of the objects that surround it have changed substantially; Likewise, he has learned to create and manufacture a myriad of elements impossible to find in nature.
The term "horse," pronounced at a time when that poor species was used as the only possible means of transportation, necessarily denoted this use; to this day, although they are still being exploited, their objective meaning is different. In the same way, definitions of human products vary , such as clothing and household appliances: saying computer today and three decades ago denoting devices that have very little in common.

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