Of course, individuals may have different associations for words based on their own experiences. Someone who grew up in a home that was marked by abuse may have a different reaction to the word. But we can make generalizations about connotations of words that grow out of the experience of the majority of people in a particular group or culture.
Closely related to connotation and denotation is tone. Tone is the attitude of the writer or speaker towards his subject. More denotative word choice contributes to a more objective (emotionless) tone. More connotative word choice contributes to a more subjective (emotional) tone.
Below are two poems about snow. What is the tone of each? What words, through their connotations, help create that tone?
"Snow Flakes" - Emily Dickinson
I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!
"October Snow" - Lew Sarett
Swiftly the blizzard stretched a frozen arm
From out the hollow night-
Stripping the world of all her scarlet pomp,
And muffling her in white.
Dead white the hills; dead white the soundless plain;
Dead white the blizzard's breath-
Heavy with hoar that touched each woodland thing
With a white and silent death.
In inky stupor, along the drifted snow,
The sluggish river rolled-
A numb black snake caught lingering in the sun
By autumn's sudden cold.
|"Snow Storm" - Igor Medvedev|