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Thinking Critically, Seventh Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Additional Chapter Activities
Chapter 6: Language and Thought

  1. Advertising depends to a great extent on the gap between the denotative meaning of words or phrases (their dictionary definition) and their connotative meaning (what they suggest or imply). The famous phrase "Just do it" is easy to understand in its denotative sense, but it seems to connote a great deal more. Write a short essay about a different advertising phrase or slogan that is perhaps denotatively straightforward but that seems to connote a great deal more. Why does it connote so much? Is it repeatedly connected with certain kinds of images? What is the role of the viewer or reader when it comes to bridging the gap that separates the denotative from the connotative meanings of words and phrases?

  2. Flip through a magazine and find an advertisement that includes a lengthy description of a particular product. Write a short essay in which you analyze the language of the advertisement. Is it vague or precise, general or specific, formal or informal? Speculate about why the advertisers chose to use the kind of language that they did.


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