Semantics  

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Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure
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Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure
"Nothing is more usual than for philosophers to encroach on the province of grammarians, and to engage in disputes of words, while they imagine they are handling controversies of the deepest importance and concern." - David Hume
This page Semantics is part of the linguistics series. Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)
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This page Semantics is part of the linguistics series.
Illustration: a close-up of a mouth in the film The Big Swallow (1901)
The Bouba/kiki effect (1929)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Semantics (Greek sēmantikos, giving signs, significant, symptomatic, from sēma, sign) refers to the aspects of meaning that are expressed in a language, code, or other form of representation. Semantics may also denote the theoretical study of meaning in systems of signs.

Though terminology varies, writers on the subject of meaning generally recognize two sorts of meaning that a significant expression may have: (1) the relation that a sign has to objects and objective situations, actual or possible, and (2) the relation that a sign has to other signs, most especially the sorts of mental signs that are conceived of as concepts.

Most theorists refer to the relation between a sign and its objects, as always including any manner of objective reference, as its denotation. Some theorists refer to the relation between a sign and the signs that serve in its practical interpretation as its connotation, but others restrict the application of semantics to the denotative aspect, using other terms or completely ignoring the connotative aspect.

Further reading

  • Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933) - Alfred Korzybski
  • Metaphors We Live By, a 1980 book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson on conceptual metaphors

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Semantics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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