Journal – TMD – Language

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The purpose of this assignment is to remind you of the difference between denotation and connotation and help you pay attention to the emotional reaction you may have to the text.


  1. Read the chapter called “La Gioconda’s Smile” (pp. 66-73) in the Unit 6 Resources.
    • Explore language, our next literary term, through Guevara’s diction (word choices) and the denotations and connotations of those words. Noticing the language of a text helps you be a more critical reader. The author chooses particular words that are unique and distinctive in order to convey a tone and meaning.
  2. Find the following eight words in this chapter: prosaic, miasmas, indolent, acrid, acrimony, proletariat, macabre and wrested.
    • Notice the context of these words in the sentences from the chapter.
    • If you do not already know the meaning of these words, can you guess at the meaning from the context?
  3. Look up the denotations (dictionary definitions) of these eight words above on the Internet and make a vocabulary list of the words and definitions. Determine how the definitions help you understand the sentence.
  4. Locate these six words in the chapter:
    • “knights,”
    • “hitchhikers,”
    • “assaulted,”
    • “parasites,”
    • “clambered,”
    • “riff raff”
  5. List five connotations (emotional associations, nuances, moods, etc.) of each of these words and determine how these connotations change the tone of this chapter or the reaction you have to each of their sentences.
  6. Post your list of eight denotations and your list of six connotations (times five) in this Journal. Also, post two paragraphs in the Journal, one on denotation and one on connotation, answering the following questions:
    • How do the dictionary definitions help you understand the meaning of the story?
    • How do the connotations of the other words add to the overall emotional tone of this chapter, and to your understanding of Guevara’s character?

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