Building vocabulary through pairing of words

I occasionally have a competition with my classes, to find a pair of words in English that have precisely the same denotation and connotation (which is a nice way to introduce those terms as well.)

 

Basically, they provide pairs of words that they think are the same, and I explain why that’s not true. It builds competitiveness – especially when I get two classes going at the same time and they want to win first – and it gets them exposed to a wide range of language and meaning, as they start looking for ways to win! Although we usually start with nouns and adjectives the discussion quickly ranges into the abstract, and is usually quite provocative as students really have to think about wider meanings.

 

Example

Floral / flowery 

“Floral” connotations are more to do with design; a floral pattern on a plate, or dress fabric for example.

“Flowery” can mean relating to flowers, but also has connotations of being overly elaborate or fussy – “flowery language”.

 

Folk / people

Different stereotypes of usage – “folk” being lower register, more colloquial and perhaps associated with the sociolect of older people. “People”, however, being a collective noun for humans, yet having different connotations to “group” – a much smaller, narrow number of people than “a people.”

What do you think?