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Here is a word, "flightless" which means "(of a bird or an insect) naturally unable to fly". So should we say it refers to the word's denotation meaning or connotation meaning?

Since -less always means "without" in most of the words, can we say it is the context that gives the connotation meaning of "unable to fly" to the word?

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    If "flightless" means "naturally unable to fly", how can "unable to fly" be a connotative meaning? Denotation is the surface or the literal meaning, the definition most likely to appear in a dictionary, just like the case of "flightless" meaning "unable to fly". Connotative meanings are developed by the community and do not represent the inherent qualities of the thing or concept originally signified as the meaning. It's better to read a book before asking a question. – Yellow Sky Jul 18 at 14:07
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    Denotation meaning and connotation meaning are not technical terms in semantics. Connotation is a cover term for many different kinds of pragmatic and semantic phenomena, and is generally insufficiently specific to be useful. Basically, everything we think of as "meaning" is "connotation", unless we are logicians. – jlawler Jul 18 at 21:09
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    Indeed, I'd rather have denotation be the implication of an actual object, i.e. a word that can be depicted with a symbol. This does rather not work for flightless, and in principle not for anything -less. Cororally, if you have to catch a flight, this is invariably denotional of the plane, and the activity is a connitation. This is curious, compared to German Flucht which describes the abstract (to flee "flüchten", Flucht "flight", but Flug "flight", fliegen "to fly"), but also rather concretely an avenue, or border (mostly in construction); Flugzeug might reflect the -t – vectory Jul 19 at 10:23
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Flightless may be thought of as denotional, diachronically, if it implied the wings. PS: Compare especially Luxemburgish Fliicht "wing". Likewise Dutch vleder

From Old Dutch fledarôn, from Proto-Germanic *fleþarô (“wing”), probably related to *fifaldǭ (“butterfly”). Related to the first element of German Fledermaus (“bat”), which corresponds to modern Dutch vleermuis.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vleder


In the synchronic sense, it might or might not be connotative.

I quote @jlawler

Denotation meaning and connotation meaning are not technical terms in semantics. Connotation is a cover term for many different kinds of pragmatic and semantic phenomena, and is generally insufficiently specific to be useful. Basically, everything we think of as "meaning" is "connotation", unless we are logicians. – jlawler 13 hours ago

... and myself for context

Indeed, I'd rather have denotation be the implication of an actual object, i.e. a word that can be depicted with a symbol. This does rather not work for flightless, and in principle not for anything -less. Cororally, if you have to catch a flight, this is invariably denotional of the plane, and the activity is a connotation. This is curious, compared to German Flucht which describes the abstract (to flee "flüchten", Flucht "flight", but Flug "flight", fliegen "to fly"), but also rather concretely an avenue, or border (mostly in construction); Flugzeug might reflect the -t – vectory 2 mins ago

Following @yellowsky, it would be denotational even if denoting the activity of flying, or the result of flight, but this necessarily implies that all words are denotational in all senses, if, quite simply, words just mean what they are supposed to mean.

Insofar my understanding of denotation leads to cognates, it must be pretty good. Perhaps that's useless to you, your question isn't abundantly clear.

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  • I take the downvotrs to mean that, no this is not how you derive flight, and that you misunderstood my writing to have made an attempt at a proof. I did not, and I'm not aware of references that would go into sufficient detail about flightless, as they will invariably rest on flight + -less, which has me as an ESL always struck as a weird composition. Something like *swimless or *walkless would be dedicatedly odd. Something like tireless is adverbial. From the lack of comments I assume you have no better derivation at hand either. – vectory Jul 19 at 18:14

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