Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Semantics or pragmatics?|
I was wondering which area of linguistics deals with perceived vs.
intended meaning of a word. For example, if I say the word
''socialism'', it has certain connotations for me, but my listener might
have very different connotations. Would that be semantics or
This is a bit fuzzy for a few reasons.
Semantics generally refers to literal meaning, and pragmatics to meanings beyond
the literal. However, you could have a legitimate argument on what the definition of
"socialism" entails, so that is semantics (and yet mixed with pragmatics if someone
uses the term to imply other concepts beyond socialism).
A less political example might be a term like "cynic" which in general discourse
means someone jaded or unoptimistic. A scholar of the Greek philosopy might use it
to refer to a practitioner of the original Cynic philosophy.
I think some more specific terms that might help would be
* frames or frames of reference - how someone metaphorically views the world.
Lakoff was a notable proponent of this concept as it relates to political discourse,
but it's not without controversy.
* genres/discourse styles/jargon - how groups/communities communicate with
each other. Drs may communicate one with with patients and another with a
Studies of political discourse do show that people of opposing points of view tend to
form distinct discourses (jargons/styles/pragmatics). In many ways, different
political parties can be analyzed as slightly different cultures. You would also have
to consider how a piece of text/speech was meant to be used. Often, the purpose is
to "motivate the base", but not always.
Hope this helps
|Reply From:||Elizabeth J Pyatt click here to access email|