12.4 Enrichment

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe the difference between denotative and connotative meanings of “Wall Street,” “proud,” and “time of death.”  Think of other words with different  denotative and connotative meanings.
  2. Describe a time when you heard a euphemism to describe something negative, like  “passed away” or  “being let go.” How did the language impact the message?
  3. Think of a time when you used jargon in conversation and it was misunderstood. What were the results of the misunderstanding? What language could you have used instead of jargon?
  4. Why should you avoid using profanity in public speaking? Are there times when profanity might be useful in public speaking? How can we ensure the appropriateness of our language?


  1. Draw a ladder on a piece of paper with several rungs.  Think of  an abstract word you can start with on the bottom rung. On each level, make it more concrete using each rung of the ladder to create your own “ladder of abstraction” (Hayakawa, 1939) in Section  12.2. For example-  Creature–>Domesticated Animal–>Feline—>House cat—> Persian–>Garfield–>red, overweight, Persian name Garfield
  2. In a group, pronounce these commonly mispronounced terms: chipotle, colonel, worcestershire, corp, quinoa, dachshund, synecdoche, anemone, pho, acai, niche, gif, tenet, coupe de grace, hyperbole, data. If you are unsure of the correct pronunciation, look them up on your phone/laptop.  Can you think of any others? Share with the group. Discuss the consequences of a mispronunciation during a presentation.
  3. In small groups, brainstorm and come up with a hyperbole to describe one aspect of your life as a college student (nutrition, exhaustion, learning, cost, living, friends, growth, etc.). Share with the class.



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