Friday 8 December 2017

The full 'meaning' of a word is not its 'definition'.

It’s easy to reduce ‘meaning’ to ‘definition’. This leaves out ‘connotation’: the web of connections a word/phrase/whole text has with our experience. This is yet another way in which 'grammar' (sometimes employed by critics) does not explain all!

The words ‘pain au chocolat ‘ and ‘chocolatine’ mean the ‘same’. But they ‘connote’ different meanings via my, your and our experience.

Ironically, some of the most reductive, most non-connotive approaches to language occur when education and exams approach the most connotive uses of language: literature!

Given that a good deal of poetry works through and with such processes we call 'allusion', 'affect', 'ambiguity', 'resonance', 'evocation', and 'suggestion' - again, how ironic that we keep trying to reduce words or phrases in poems to single meanings or definitions.