Analyzing Diction Contributors: Mrs. Smith Miss Cullen Diction, word choice, is the most powerful element of style for you to understand. Many words in our language have strong connotations and authors use them on purpose to elicit certain responses from the reader. DICTION
Denotation Denotation- literal dictionary definition of a word. Example: The words plump and obese both literally describe a person who is overweight. They are synonyms. However The word plump has the connotation of being pleasantly fat, almost cutely
overweight. Its connotation describes women more often than men. It is this extra emotional feeling that shows how we use the word. Connotation Connotation-implied or suggested meaning attached to a word or the emotional tag that goes along with a word.
The word obese , often used by medical personnel, has a more technical connotation. It carries a less emotional, more scientific emotional tag. Both plump and obese have the same literal definition, but the connotations are different. Connotation illustrates ways in which we use a word. Connotative Diction The boy surveyed the class,
congratulating himself for snatching the highest grade on the test. Two words are important here: surveyed and snatching. They are the words with the strongest connotations. Commentary Once you identify an authors diction,
you must analyze it. This means that you write commentary about it. You must discuss the Word Connotation surveyed conveys the idea of
someone looking around as if he were gazing on lesser beings Practice Now it is your turn to try some commentary for the other strong connotative
word in the samplesnatching. Word snatching Connotation Diction may be 1. The choice of appropriate language for your audience: A. technical (computer manual)
B. formal (application letter to a college) C. informal (a personal experience story) D. familiar (a letter to your best friend) 2. The specific choice of words for their meaning or for their connotation (associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word). Connotation is different for different
people. A cat is not simply a cat to everyone. An authors specific word choice- a ferocious feline or a fuzzy furball- influences the reader and creates tone. Types of Diction A. Slang= informal, substandard language which most of us use regularly B. Dialect & Colloquialism= words and pronunciation of a certain place or group of people (ie. The drawl of
Southerners, a mountain dialect, etc.) C. Jargon= language which is appropriate for particular groups (i.e. computer jargon, medical jargon) Good Diction is Effective Think of a menu from a fancy restaurant: Juicy rib-eye, charbroiled with a hint of mesquite and garlic Creamy, garlic mashed potatoes with a luscious hint of butter, cheese,
sour cream and bacon Makes you hungry right?! Good diction is effective! Verbs Although many diction words are adjectives, dont neglect to recognize verbs which function as diction. The choice of specific, appropriate verbs is very important in writing. The use of specific rather than broad words can influence the effectiveness
of the work. Verb Intensity Think of the intensity of a verb on a 1-3 scale. 1= low intensity 2= medium intensity 3= high intensity For the following verbs, think of a Level 1 version of the verb, a Level 2 and a Level 3.
Example Sleep: Level 1= doze, nod Level 2= nap, snooze Level 3= slumber Try It
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Ask Cut Grab Laugh Cry LEAD Look for these when reading for diction. L= low or informal diction (dialect, slang, jargon) E= elevated language or formal
diction A= abstract or concrete diction D= denotation and connotation Diction Analysis The following words are closely related in meaning but differ in connotation. Select one pair, then answer the Diction Analysis questions (handout) about the distinctions between the words in the pair you have chosen.
Choose one Pair to Analyze
Art & Craft Faith & Creed Gang & Club Imaginative & Fanciful Instrument & Tool Intelligent & Smart Labor & Work Lady & Woman Recreation & Play
Religion & Cult Terrorist & Revolutionary Writing about Diction Use the How to Talk About Diction handout when writing about an authors diction. This is incredibly useful when writing thesis statements. Heres an example (a little wordy, but good): In Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. writes in a relatively denotative formal style. His intellectual vocabulary contributes to a
dignity of tone, while the lack of euphemism underscores the seriousness of his intention. Essay Writing Diction analysis is useful in essays that require you to: Analyze an authors style Analyze an authors attitude (tone) Analyze the authors diction (specifically)
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