Semantics : The Study of Meaning Session 2
What is semantics?
A branch of linguistics concerned with aspects of meaning in
What kinds of questions do semanticists ask?
What is meaning? Why is it a vague term?
Why is it hard to imagine a language that has no meaning?
How does the use and meaning of language change over
What are similarities and differences of words
o Specially between English and French
What’s the point of semantics?
To be more conscious of the language we use and how we
To help clarify with translations
What is meaning? And why is it so vague
Something that describes a word and vague because we can
have several definition to describe
The use and relation of the word
o Interpretation -> the receiver tries to properly interpret
o On the other hand, the other side has the intention to
communicate something to somebody else
The goal of language is to convey meaning
o feelings and thoughts
even babies have an intent to communicate when they babble
At what point does a sound have meaning?
Explain the distinction between semiotics (science of signs),
semantics (the study of meaning and significance) and
linguistic semantics (study of meaning and significance
connect – how we assign meaning)
What is communicative intention (when speaker wants to
communicate with somebody else)?
Explain the distinction between semiotic and non-semiotic
actions (have or have no intent to communicate-> language
as an action)
In what way was last week’s discussion a pretheoretical
(use examples/theories to further the meaning) explanation
What does meaning refer to in English? (What types of
relationships exist?) o To explain an idea of a specific word, convey an idea
o For translations, ways of explaining
o Difference between language and the mind or the world
Ex. air = life (significance)
How is meaning different in French?
o To mean & meaning vs. vouloir dire & le sens
How is meaning different in other languages?
o Some laguages don’t have specific word to mean certain
How is meaning connected to pragmatics(gestures
inteonation role in a meaning)?/lexicology?/psychology?
o Pragmatics: Use of context, gestures, facial impressions
– how we say certain words
o Lexicology: study of words – different meanings can be
describe with different words
o Psychology: study of the mind -
What are the three elements of meaning?
o Thought: to construct words we think about it first
Ex. dog -> “I love my dog”
We don’t think about the dog itself but our
concept of our dog