Decoding Denotation & Discourse

PAMM here, we’re back with another blog post, this time we’re focused on denotative and connotative meanings within discourses as well as exploring encoding and decoding. During class, we had talked about the near impossibility of something that only has denotative meaning without a connotative attachment— this made us wonder, is that really the case? We bet that we could come up with a few things that were strictly denotative or literal meanings and not loaded with connotative meanings as well. Well…it happened to be an exercise in futility. It did not work out the way we had planned. The following consists of a smattering of our examples that we “thought” of”

Stop sign— This was wrong… because, everyone knows what a Stop Sign is and we understand the consequences of blowing by one… you happen to be actually breaking the law if you don’t stop. Thus, when we see one, we stop.

Bee—Again…wrong! We thought maybe some sort of insect or animal may have strictly a denotative meaning, but we soon realized otherwise. We thought of the various meanings attached to the honeybee i.e. stinging, pollination, springtime, and (if you’re Megan) “SAVE THE HONEYBEES”

Shape—Then we thought generally about shapes…why? Max’s mind works in mysterious ways. So, what is a triangle? Is it a pizza…nope? Circle? Is it a hoola-hoop? We realized that even shapes in their various forms and contexts come with an assortment of implied meanings.

Dog— Back to animals, a dog came up, but we soon realized that this was still incorrect despite the relative lapse in time between the previous examples of insects. Roughly speaking a dog is a  (wo)mans best friend.

After this brief discussion, we were a bit disheartened, but not to be deterred we moved on to discourse. Keeping up our oppositional attitude and wanting to prove the discussions in class wrong, we wanted to think of a concept that was not, we repeat, not created by discourse. Again, this proved more difficult than we thought.

The only real example we could think of, off the top of our heads was the idea of “home” or what is home? Obviously, “home” is merely a place, a location, an address. Then Megan had to bring up the ideas of “house” vs. “home” and the nuclear family etc. Foiled again, we moved on.

From here we moved to the concepts of dominant, negotiated, and oppositional responses and examples of each.

For Dominant responses, Max was very passionate about the fact that Low Testosterone is actually a medical condition and that if a pill helps with that— that is probably a good thing. He responded well to that narrative.

We all also realized that we respond to the dominant idea of student-teacher relations and authority figures within and without the university setting.

Negotiated responses happened to be more obvious to us. We all identified with the dominant discourse on gender (identifying as male and female in the dominant sense), despite being open and aware of the current system and construction of the gender “binary.” Our senses of nationalism were all a bit different, as Megan and Ally were a tidbit less patriotic than Phil and Max. Ally cheers for Yemen in the Olympics, but Max and Phil religiously count medals, making sure we beat China consistently. Megan just happens to LOVE Country Music.

Oppositional responses were a bit more difficult for us, because we felt like many things that we had an issue with, we were in fact merely taking negotiated stances on, i.e. patriarchy, conspicuous consumption/capitalism etc. etc. However, we did come up with a few.

Max happens to believe in marriage equality as a practicing Catholic. That is particularly oppositional considering the Church’s long-standing position.

Ally is from Seattle…nuff’ said.




This entry was posted in Cafe Discussion Groups, Group2. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply