DENOTATIVE, CONNOTATIVE AND CONTEXTUAL MEANING
The translation requires not only the use of an excellent dictionary or a grammar advanced skills, although both of them are necessary to reach the real meaning, the perfect use of the different kinds of meaning will award us with the perfect rendering.
The meaning of a word it is not merely the result you get from your search in a good dictionary. It exists three types of meaning, which we have to consider to obtain a good translation. These types are: denotative or dictionary meaning, connotative meaning and contextual meaning. We are going to explain chiefly each one.
a) Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, that means, the definition you can get using your dictionary. For example, if you look up the word sweet in a dictionary, you will discover that one of its denotative meaning is “a small piece of sweet food, usually made with sugar and/or chocolate and eaten between meals”
b) Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. The connotative meanings of a word exist together with the denotative meanings. The connotations for the word sweet could include fondness to the person you address using it.
c) Contextual meaning has to do with the recognition of the meaning of a word using the context where the word is. This is why the knowledge of the word order and context is helpful to support word identification and confirm word meaning. For example: Sweet! Depending on the context could mean:
i. A lovely way to address someone. Sweet! Please come.
ii. To show you are approve of something. Free tickets? Sweet! (American English)
iii. The taste of a food. What do you prefer, a sweet or savoury snack? Sweet!