What made Sherlock Holmes a good detective? Was he just much smarter than everyone else? Did he have some sort of magical powers? Could he somehow see into the future or into the past? No, Sherlock Holmes was no medium or magician. So what was he secret? His power of observation.
You may recall that the introduction to this book talked about active reading. As an active reader, you should have been marking up the passage you’ve read.
Ø Making Observations
Making observations means looking carefully at the text and noticing specific things about how it is written. You might notice, for example, the point of view the author has chosen. You could also notice:
· Particular words and phrases the writer uses
· The way those words and phrases are arranged in sentences and paragraphs
· Repeated word or sentence patterns
· Important details about people, places, and things
When you make observations, you can then make valid inferences. As a matter of fact, you did this in lesson 11 (A Matter of Perspective: Point of View) when you made assumptions about how the writer wanted to be perceived based on the point of view he or she used.
Ø Observations and inferences
Inferences, as you may recall, are conclusion based on reason, fact, or evidence. Good inferences come from good observations. The observations are the evidence for the inferences. Good inferences−ones based on careful observation−can help you determine meaning, as they helped Sherlock Holmes solve crimes.
To be better readers, then, we need to be more like Sherlock Holmes: We need to be better observers. In the story “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier,” Sherlock Holmes tells a client: “I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.” You don’t have to be Einstein to be a good reader, you just have to train yourself to notice what you see.
Ø Denotation and Connotation
Now, suppose sentence A also had another adjective to describe the new policy:
a. The town’s firm new parking policy, which goes into effect on Monday, should significantly reduce traffic congestion on Main Street.
b. The town’s draconian new parking policy, which goes into effect on Monday, should significantly reduce traffic congestion on Main Street.
Do the two sentences now mean the same thing? Yes and no. Both firm and draconian suggest that the policy is strict, but each word has a specific implication or suggested meaning about how strict that policy is. A firm policy is not as strict as a draconian policy. Furthermore, draconian suggests that the policy is not only strict but unfairly or unreasonably so.
So, the words writers choose, even though they may mean the same thing when you look them up in the dictionary, actually have another level of meaning. This is called their connotation. Connotation is the implied meaning, the meaning that evolves when the dictionary definition (denotation) develops an emotional or social register or a suggestion of degree. The specific words writers choose−their diction or word choice−can therefore reveal a great deal about how authors feel about their subjects.
Ø Reading between the Lines
Looking at diction can be especially helpful when the writer’s main idea isn’t quite clear. For example, in the following paragraph−an excerpt from a letter of recommendation−the author doesn’t provide a topic sentence that expresses the main idea. Instead, you must use your powers of observation to answer the question about how the author feels about the described employee.
Just as Sherlock Holmes learned to notice what he saw when he arrived at the scene of a crime, you can also learn to notice what you see when you look carefully at a piece of writing. By noticing the specific word a writer has chosen to use, you can help ensure that you fully comprehend the writer’s message.
NB: Tugas Reading Comprehension