Valentine’s Day messages – denotation & connotation

Converged communicators who have been anywhere near media in the last week-plus have probably heard the news – it’s Valentine’s Day. And for marketers, advertisers, and consumers, that means a lot of messages that illustrate the concept of denotative and connotative meaning, as we’ve discussed in recent weeks in DIG3286 (Assembling Digital Media).

Just take a quick glance at today’s Google home page, where you’ll find denotative, connotative, and linguistic messages wrapped up in one very small package. It’s a Valentine’s Day Google Doodle, with six candy hearts bearing messages. Clicking on one will bring up an audio track from NPR’s This American Life, each one telling a sentimental love story. It won’t take long to identify denotative, connotative, and linguistic messages in this doodle.

But we can also examine the denotative and connotative messages in the images themselves. Some of the connotations of roses were discussed a week ago in Assembling Digital Media. Similarly, other symbols or products that we see promoted or displayed around Valentine’s Day – hearts, flowers, candy, diamonds, and so forth – have acquired their connotative meanings through culture. There’s nothing especially romantic about this image of the heart, a diagram from the National Cancer Institute (at least it doesn’t seem like it to this converged communicator). Over the millennia of human civilization, though, the heart has acquired a cultural significance that transcends its biological function. In other words, the heart may mean one thing in a cardiologist’s office (the denotative meaning) but quite another in most contexts for most people (the connotative meaning). It’s the connotative idea of love, rather than a bland denotative description about the location and function of the aortic valve, that we’ll be hearing about today.

For more information on this sweet Google Doodle, check out this USA Today link:

Warm wishes for all converged communicators for today and the rest of the extended weekend.


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