The History of Semantics

2495 Words Mar 19th, 2013 10 Pages
semantics [Gr.,=significant] in general, the study of the relationship between words and meanings. The empirical study of word meanings and sentence meanings in existing languages is a branch of linguistics; the abstract study of meaning in relation to language or symbolic logic systems is a branch of philosophy. Both are called semantics. The field of semantics has three basic concerns: the relations of words to the objects denoted by them, the relations of words to the interpreters of them, and, in symbolic logic, the formal relations of signs to one another (syntax).
In linguistics, semantics has its beginnings in France and Germany in the 1820s when the meanings of words as significant features in the growth of language was recognized.
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In contrast, the advocates of generative semantics insist that the meaning of sentences is a function of their use. Still another group maintains that semantics will not advance until theorists take into account the psychological questions of how people form concepts and how these relate to word meanings.

For more information on semantics, visit Britannica.com. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994-2008 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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semantics

The study of the meaning of words. Contrast with syntax, which governs the structure of a language. See Semantic Web and Systemantics.

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semantics

1. the study of the relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent

2. Logic

a. the study of interpretations of a formal theory

b. the study of the relationship between the structure of a theory and its subject matter

c. (of a formal theory) the principles that determine the truth or