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In the main, semantics (from the Greek semantikos, or "significant meaning," derived from sema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term. It should not be confused with the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski, a somewhat different discipline. Semantics is often opposed to syntax, in which case the former pertains to what something means while the latter pertains to the formal structure/patterns in which something is expressed (for example written or spoken).

Semantics is distinguished from ontology (knowledge of existence) in being about the use of a word more than the nature of the entity referenced by the word. This is reflected in the argument, "That's only semantics" when someone tries to draw conclusions about what is true about the world based on what is true about a word.

Several more particular senses of the word can be identified:


In linguistics

Semantics is a subfield of linguistics that is traditionally defined as the study of meaning of (parts of) words, phrases, sentences, and texts. Semantics can be approached from a theoretical as well as an empirical (for example psycholinguistic) point of view. The decompositional perspective towards meaning holds that the meaning of words can be analyzed by defining meaning atoms or primitives, which establish a language of thought. An area of study is the meaning of compounds, another is the study of relations between different linguistic expressions (homonymy, synonymy, antonymy, polysemy, paronyms, hypernymy, hyponymy, meronymy, metonymy, holonymy, exocentric, and endocentric). Semantics includes the study of thematic roles, argument structure, and its linking to syntax. Semantics deals with sense and reference, truth conditions, and discourse analysis. Pragmatics is often considered a part of semantics.

See also

In mathematics and computer science

"Semantics" is also used as a term in mathematics and computer science.

See also

In logic

Many of the formal approaches to semantics applied in linguistics, mathematical logic, and computer science originated in techniques for the semantics of logic, most influentially being Alfred Tarski's ideas in model theory and his semantic theory of truth. Also, inferential role semantics has its roots in the work of Gerhard Gentzen on proof theory and proof-theoretic semantics.

See also

cs:Smantika da:Semantik de:Semantik es:Semntica eo:Semantiko fa:معناشناسی fr:Smantique id:Semantik ia:Semantica it:Semantica he:סמנטיקה ms:Semantik nl:Semantiek ja:意味論 pl:Semantyka pt:Semntica ro:Semantică ru:Семантика sk:Smantika sr:Семантика fi:Semantiikka sv:Semantik ta:சொற்பொருளியல் uk:Семантика zh:语义学


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