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Denotation and Connotation 

Denotation and Connotation
Denotation and Connotation

Sylvia A. Pamboukian

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date: 28 March 2020

Research using denotation and connotation explores how words convey meaning to various audiences and illuminates phenomena such as patient resistance, structural barriers to healthcare, and the evolution of specific medical practices. Words such as cancer, natural, narcotic, botanical, palliative, consent, and many others, are ripe for such analysis because each has many denotations (definitions) and connotations (cultural associations). For example, the word digitalis may connote a pretty foxglove flower, a heart drug, or a poison. What might this mean for patients prescribed digitalis? For those who see foxglove as a safer alternative? Denotation and connotation explore how concepts in healthcare emerge, propagate, evolve, or decline within specific communities, at particular historical moments, or across eras and cultures. This chapter offers a theoretical background in literary analysis regarding denotation and connotation and describes how such analyses offer fruitful avenues for research in health humanities.

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