denotation vs connotation:
The denotation is the literal, most direct, basic, specific, dictionary meaning of a word. The connotations are the emotional meanings, cultural implications or social overtones associated with a word.
Terms Related to Snobbery
From the Ancient Greek aristos (“best”) and kratos (“rule”), an aristocrat was a member of the ruling class of an ancient Greek city. They were the best, noblest people.
arriviste, nouveau-riche, parvenu, social climber
These words are grouped together because they all address the concept of somebody who has recently acquired wealth or social status, but who still lacks the manner or dignity associated with it.
This sometimes describes a person with the sophistication and tastes or values generally associated with urban dwellers. The built-in connotation is always negative — that of an unprincipled and untrustworthy person – but depending on the context, the tone can be one of derision or amusement. The opposite of a city slicker is a hick.
When people indulge in “conspicuous consumption”, they habitually spend a lot of money on luxurious material goods, so that other people notice and admire (or envy) them for their wealth.
These are the things that people do for recreation and entertainment, in order to impress others with their wealth or social status. The idea is that people who need to work hard for a living do not have much time to indulge in these activities.
Both “conspicuous consumption” and “conspicuous leisure” come from a book called The Theory of the Leisure Class, written by the American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen and published in 1899.
For the purposes of this course, we look at “entitlement” as one’s belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment that other people don’t get. It is a very mainstream term in today’s English.
This is Ancient Greek for “the many”, referring to the vast lower strata of society. In English, we refer to “the hoi polloi”, but this is redundant because hoi already means “the”.
inferiority complex/ superiority complex
These appear in the writings of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychoanalysis, and others. Some people are troubled by an exaggerated lack of self-esteem, or oppositely, an inflated sense of one’s own importance in relation to others. Either of these extremes can manifest itself in snobbish behaviour.
This is a shortened version of the Latin phrase infra dignitatem, meaning “beneath (one’s) dignity”. (Example: ‘Pat’ thinks that it is infra dig to have to stay at a hostel when travelling.)
Adapted from Wikipedia: A job which is low in status because it does not require much training, does not pay well, does not offer much opportunity for advancement, suffers high turnover rates, and tends to be micro-managed. (Question: why is there nevertheless high demand for ‘McJobs’ in our economy?)
Extreme fascination with oneself; excessive self-love or vanity. (Latin: vanitas = emptiness, foolish pride). The youth Narcissus from Greek mythology fell in love with his own image in a pond, so transfixed that he died of neglect.
patricians; plebeians (plebs)
In ancient Rome, only a small percentage of citizens were born into the upper class. These ‘Patricians’ (patricius (s.) or patricii (pl.), a word related to pater and patria) held all the political power. All the other citizens of Rome were the Plebeians. In today’s world, a “patrician” is a person who comes from a family of very high social rank. The rest of us are “plebeians”, or “plebes” for short. The transfer in meaning to modern usage is metaphorical.
“Popular culture” includes the practices, beliefs, and objects that permeate the everyday lives of people at a certain point in time. Mass media both influences and reflects pop culture in today’s society. It has a negative connotation amongst many people.
An entire course cannot be distilled into one sentence, but for the purposes of a brief definition list, this will do: a person with an exaggerated respect for wealth or social status, who strives to associate with social superiors and disassociate from people and things which they judge as inferior.
Snub can be used as a verb or as a noun. As a verb, it means to treat someone with contempt or neglect. As a noun, it is the act of snubbing. Its similarity to the word snob is coincidental.
The Latin word urbs means “city”, as does the Latin civitas. One who lived in, and participated in the life of, a city was deemed to have the manners associated with townspeople: courteous, refined, polite, sophisticated. The implication is that country dwellers lacked these qualities.
From the Latin noun vulgus (“crowd”) came the adjective vulgaris, which meant “pertaining to the common people”. Over time, however, what pertains to the common people, that is to say, the majority of us, was deemed crude, lacking in good taste, unrefined, obscene.
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