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Seal of Approval

Advertisements, pictures and signs are plastered all over New York. As I was coming up from the subway on 86th, I walked past a store and saw this painting in the window. I cracked up and kept walking. I then stopped and went back to take a picture. In a city with so many different cultures and languages, I realized that not everyone would understand this painting. Although it may have the same denotation to everyone, it has a connotation that may be unfamiliar to particular cultures.

In this painting, you see an animated seal with a slight grin standing upright on snow and ice. He has a wooden cane and a bright red sash across his chest. The red silk sash has “approval” written on it in all-caps. If you see this painting purely from a denotative standpoint, it would seem quite odd and random.

Connotative meanings suggest an association of something in addition to its primary meaning. If you understand the connotation, the painting makes a lot more sense. “Seal of approval” is an idiom used primarily in American culture. The form of “seal” used in this saying is supposed to indicate someone’s approval for something. This painting, however, uses the wrong form of “seal” to make a light-hearted and funny picture.

In conclusion, the denotation is simply a seal wearing a sash across his chest that says “approval” on it. Although odd, it can be understood by all cultures and people. However, to better understand the secondary meaning of the painting, one must be familiar with the idiom and the play on words that it is alluding to.



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