Semantics and Pragmatics

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  • Created on: 14-03-13 15:00
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Semantics and Pragmatics
1. Denotation
The literal meaning of words, also known as `dictionary definition'
E.g. snake - a denotative meaning would be a limbless, scaly, elongate reptile of the
suborder Serpents, comprising venomous and nonvenomous species inhabiting
tropical and temperate areas.
2. Connotation
The connotations of a word are the associations that are connected or the
emotional suggestions related to that word
E.g. snake ­ evil, danger, treachery, enmity
3. `implied'
When a meaning is indicated or suggested but not told explicitly through expressions
or words
4. Ambiguity
Unclear, doubtful or uncertainty about a meaning or intention
E.g. Juliet: "I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him -dead- Is my poor
heart for a kinsman vex'd."
5. Semantic field
A semantic field is a set of words related in meaning
E.g. Hospital ­ white coats, doctors, X-ray, emergency, accident, ambulance
6. 6. Synonym
A word that has the same or similar meaning as another
E.g. small ­ tiny, minute, humble, mini, trivial, slight, miniature
7. Antonym
A word opposite in meaning to another
E.g. hot ­ cold, dark ­ light, rich ­ poor, small ­ big
8. Difference between a hypernym and semantic field
A hypernym is a word with a general meaning that has basically the same meaning of
a more specific word. For example, snake is a hypernym, while anaconda, python,
cobra, and adder are more specific subordinate terms. However, the semantic field of
snake would be words related to the meaning of snake, for example, venom, poison,
slither etc.
9. Difference between figurative and literal language

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Literal language means that the word is exactly what it is, wheras in figurative
language, words are used to imply meanings other than the literal, dictionary
E.g. The baby slept in lap of its mother. (literal)
The baby lived in lap of luxury. (Figurative)
In the first sentence, the word lap is used to mean the physical lap, the body of the
mother. The word lap in the second sentence is intended to describe the cosy and
comfortable conditions the baby lived in.
10.…read more

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The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are
pertinent to the discussion.
This means that when talking or answering someone, you stay on the topic of
discussion; your comments should not be irrelevant.
E.g. If your teacher asks "Why are you late?" and you say "I want a cat,"
Your comment is irrelevant to the question.…read more


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