From Latin denotatio, denotation is the action and effect of denoting (a verb that, said of a word or phrase, mentions its objective meaning). The concept works as the opposite of the connotation .
Denotation is linked to the sense of the referential mechanism with the information transmitted by a linguistic unit. It's about a explicit sense , unlike the connotation, whose sense It 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 baptized as The Old Bridge Pub It 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 brandsIn general, they go beyond denotation and connote various senses (the restaurant Grandpa's Bar does not connote the same as the Palais d'or ).
The denotation, in short, refers to the direct meaning of a term, that which is in a dictionary and that mentions the relationship between the linguistic sign and its referent.
He meaning denotative of dog indicates that it is a domestic mammal of the family of canids, while, from the connotation of the term, it can be noted that a football player is a dog when he is not in good standing. A pink , to cite another example, it also has a denotation (it is an organic vegetable being) and several possible connotations (love, melancholy, etc.).
It should be noted that denotation and connotation complement each other, are necessary to give richness to a language since our communication is based on the transmission of what we perceive of our environment and of the images that we elaborate in our mind; in other words, we use the language to share with others content that is not usually objective, even when we believe it is.
Although the objectivity and the denotation goes hand in hand, this association can be looked at from two different angles: when referring to a car using the same term we make sure that our interlocutor understands exactly what we are talking about, without needing to perform any abstraction or relationship with external elements to the conversation; it could be said, surely, 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 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 your understanding of the message may be affected. How to be denotative in a world that perceives the reality in infinite ways?
No one can ensure the integrity of a message once it comes out of our mouth or that we translate it on paper or on 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 a 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 has changed substantially; Likewise, he has learned to create and manufacture endless elements that are impossible to find in nature.
The term "horse", pronounced at a time when that poor species was used as the only possible means of transport necessarily denoted this use; to this day, although they are still exploited, their objective meaning is different. Similarly the definitions of products humans, such as clothing and appliances: say computer today and three decades ago denoted devices that have very little in common.