The GIFTS activity involves the juxtaposition of denotative and connotative meanings of the same word in order to demonstrate how complex decoding the code and assigning the encoder’s intended meaning to a word can be. Students are randomly put into groups. Students are given the word “dog” and each group uses a dictionary to provide its denotation. Then each group has to generate connotations, cultural or slang meanings for the word “dog.” The class discusses the difference between the two types of meaning, and what impact if any this difference has on interpersonal communication. Then each group chooses a word, provides its denotative and connotative meanings, and determines if the meaning in the word is fixed or not. Then as a class we discuss the meanings of the words. Students realize the meaning words have is never fixed. Therefore, the encoder must consider the audience to reduce ambiguity during decoding.
Keys, Truman Ryan
"Say What You Mean: Confronting Ambiguity in Language,"
Proceedings of the New York State Communication Association:
Vol. 2010, Article 14.
Available at: http://docs.rwu.edu/nyscaproceedings/vol2010/iss1/14