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Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of
reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to ''refer to'' the second object. It is called a ''name'' ...
, meaning, or
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, ...
. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
,
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
and
computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied science, practical discipli ...
.


History

In English, the study of meaning in language has been known by many names that involve the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
word (''sema'', "sign, mark, token"). In 1690, a Greek rendering of the term ''
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the systematic study of sign processes (semiosis) and meaning making. Semiosis is any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything that commun ...
'', the interpretation of signs and symbols, finds an early allusion in
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "father of liberalism ...
's ''
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding ''An Essay Concerning Human Understanding'' is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. It first appeared in 1689 (although dated 1690) with the printed title ''An Essay Concerning Humane Understand ...
'':
The third Branch may be called [''simeiotikí'', "
semiotics Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the systematic study of sign processes (semiosis) and meaning making. Semiosis is any activity, conduct, or process that involves Sign (semiotics), signs, where a sign is defined as anything that commun ...
"], or the Doctrine of Signs, the most usual whereof being words, it is aptly enough termed also , Logick.
In 1831, the term is suggested for the third branch of division of knowledge akin to Locke; the "signs of our knowledge". In 1857, the term '' semasiology'' (borrowed from German ''Semasiologie'') is attested in Josiah W. Gibbs' ''Philological studies with English illustrations'':
The development of intellectual and moral ideas from physical, constitutes an important part of ''semasiology'', or that branch of grammar which treats of the development of the meaning of words. It is built on the analogy and correlation of the physical and intellectual worlds.
In 1893, the term ''semantics'' is used to translate French ''sémantique'' as used by Michel Bréal. Some years later, in ''Essai de Sémantique'', Bréal writes:
What I have tried to do is to draw some broad lines, to mark some divisions and as a provisional plan on a field not yet exploited, and which requires the combined work of several generations of linguists. I therefore ask the reader to consider this book as a simple Introduction to the science I have proposed to call ''Semantics''. n footnote: , the science of .e., what it means from the verb "to signify", as opposed to ''Phonetics'', the science of sounds .e., what it sounds like
In 1922, the concept of semantics is attested in
mathematical logic Mathematical logic is the study of formal logic within mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantiti ...
amidst a group of scholars in Poland including Leon Chwistek, Leśniewski, Łukasiewicz, Kotarbinski, Adjukiewicz, and Tarski. According to Allen Walker Read, they had been influenced by French culture; moreover, later, their work influenced
Alfred Korzybski Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski (, ; July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950) was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of se ...
's usage of the term. In the 1960s, semantics for programming languages is attested in publications by Robert W. Floyd and
Tony Hoare Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare (Tony Hoare or C. A. R. Hoare) (born 11 January 1934) is a British computer scientist who has made foundational contributions to programming languages, algorithms, operating systems, formal verification, and c ...
, later termed ''
axiomatic semantics Axiomatic semantics is an approach based on mathematical logic for proving the correctness of computer programs. It is closely related to Hoare logic. Axiomatic semantics define the meaning of a command in a program by describing its effect on ass ...
''; its chief application is
formal verification In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of Mathematical proof, proving or disproving the correctness (computer science), correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain for ...
of computer programs. Some years later, the terms ''
operational semantics Operational semantics is a category of Formal language, formal programming language Semantics (computer science), semantics in which certain desired properties of a Computer program, program, such as correctness, safety or security, are formal ve ...
'' and ''
denotational semantics In computer science, denotational semantics (initially known as mathematical semantics or Scott–Strachey semantics) is an approach of formalizing the meanings of programming languages by constructing mathematical objects (called ''denotations'' ...
'' emerged. Floyd, in the lead to his 1967 paper ''Assigning meanings to programs'', writes:
A semantic definition of a programming language, in our approach, is founded on a
syntactic In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature an ...
definition. It must specify which of the phrases in a syntactically correct program represent commands, and what conditions must be imposed on an interpretation in the neighborhood of each command.


Linguistics

In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
, semantics is the subfield that studies meaning. Partee, B. (1999)
Semantics
' in R. A. Wilson and F. C. Keil (eds.)
The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences
', Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 739–742.
Semantics can address meaning at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, or larger units of
discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and discourse analysis. F ...
. Two of the fundamental issues in the field of semantics are that of compositional semantics (which pertains on how smaller parts, like words, combine and interact to form the meaning of larger expressions, such as sentences) and
lexical semantics Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), as a subfield of linguistics, linguistic semantics, is the study of word meanings.Pustejovsky, J. (2005) Lexical Semantics: Overview' in Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, second edition, V ...
(the nature of the meaning of words). Other prominent issues are those of
context Context may refer to: * Context (language use), the relevant constraints of the communicative situation that influence language use, language variation, and discourse summary Computing * Context (computing), the virtual environment required to su ...
and its role on interpretation,
opaque context An opaque context or referentially opaque context is a context (language use), linguistic context in which it is not always possible to substitute "co-referential" expressions (expressions referring to the same object) without altering the truth of ...
s,
ambiguity Ambiguity is the type of meaning (linguistics), meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations wikt:plausible#Adjective, plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty. It ...
, vagueness,
entailment Logical consequence (also entailment) is a fundamental concept in logic, which describes the relationship between statement (logic), statements that hold true when one statement logically ''follows from'' one or more statements. A Validity (lo ...
and presuppositions. Several disciplines and approaches have contributed to the often-contentious field of semantics. One of the crucial questions which unites different approaches to linguistic semantics is that of the relationship between form and meaning. Some major contributions to the study of semantics have derived from studies in the 1980–1990s in related subjects of the syntax–semantics interface and
pragmatics In linguistics and related fields, pragmatics is the study of how context (language use), context contributes to meaning. The field of study evaluates how human language is utilized in social interactions, as well as the relationship between the ...
. The semantic level of language interacts with other modules or levels (like syntax) in which language is traditionally divided. In linguistics, it is typical to talk in terms of "interfaces" regarding such interactions between modules or levels. For semantics, the most crucial interfaces are considered those with syntax (the syntax–semantics interface),
pragmatics In linguistics and related fields, pragmatics is the study of how context (language use), context contributes to meaning. The field of study evaluates how human language is utilized in social interactions, as well as the relationship between the ...
and
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of a ...
(regarding prosody and intonation).


Disciplines and paradigms in linguistic semantics


Formal semantics

Formal semantics seeks to identify domain-specific mental operations which speakers perform when they compute a sentence's meaning on the basis of its syntactic structure. Theories of formal semantics are typically floated on top of theories of syntax, such as
generative syntax Generative grammar, or generativism , is a linguistic theory that regards linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and ...
or combinatory categorial grammar, and provided a model theory based on mathematical tools, such as typed lambda calculi. The field's central ideas are rooted in early twentieth century
philosophical logic Understood in a narrow sense, philosophical logic is the area of logic that studies the application of logical methods to philosophy, philosophical problems, often in the form of extended logical systems like modal logic. Some theorists conceive ph ...
, as well as later ideas about linguistic syntax. It emerged as its own subfield in the 1970s after the pioneering work of Richard Montague and
Barbara Partee Barbara Hall Partee (born June 23, 1940) is a Distinguished University Professor professor emeritus, Emerita of Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). Biography Born in Englewood, New Jersey, Partee grew u ...
and continues to be an active area of research.


Conceptual semantics

This theory is an effort to explain properties of argument structure. The assumption behind this theory is that syntactic properties of phrases reflect the meanings of the words that head them.Levin, Beth; Pinker, Steven; ''Lexical & Conceptual Semantics'', Blackwell, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1991. With this theory, linguists can better deal with the fact that subtle differences in word meaning correlate with other differences in the syntactic structure that the word appears in. The way this is gone about is by looking at the internal structure of words.Jackendoff, Ray;
Semantic Structures
', MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990.
These small parts that make up the internal structure of words are termed ''semantic primitives''.


Cognitive semantics

Cognitive semantics approaches meaning from the perspective of
cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics is an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from cognitive science, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology and linguistics. Models and theoretical accounts of cognitive linguistics are cons ...
. In this framework, language is explained via general human cognitive abilities rather than a domain-specific language module. The techniques native to cognitive semantics are typically used in
lexical Lexical may refer to: Linguistics * Lexical corpus or lexis, a complete set of all words in a language * Lexical item, a basic unit of lexicographical classification * Lexicon, the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge * Lexical ...
studies such as those put forth by Leonard Talmy, George Lakoff, Dirk Geeraerts, and Bruce Wayne Hawkins. Some cognitive semantic frameworks, such as that developed by Talmy, take into account syntactic structures as well.


Lexical semantics

A linguistic theory that investigates word meaning. This theory understands that the meaning of a word is fully reflected by its
context Context may refer to: * Context (language use), the relevant constraints of the communicative situation that influence language use, language variation, and discourse summary Computing * Context (computing), the virtual environment required to su ...
. Here, the meaning of a word is constituted by its contextual relations.Cruse, D.;
Lexical Semantics
', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986.
Therefore, a distinction between degrees of participation as well as modes of participation are made. In order to accomplish this distinction, any part of a sentence that bears a meaning and combines with the meanings of other constituents is labeled as a semantic constituent. Semantic constituents that cannot be broken down into more elementary constituents are labeled minimal semantic constituents.


Cross-cultural semantics

Various fields or disciplines have long been contributing to cross-cultural semantics. Are words like ''love'', ''truth'', and ''hate'' universals? Is even the word ''sense'' – so central to semantics – a universal, or a concept entrenched in a long-standing but culture-specific tradition? These are the kind of crucial questions that are discussed in cross-cultural semantics. Translation theory, ethnolinguistics, linguistic anthropology and cultural linguistics specialize in the field of comparing, contrasting, and translating words, terms and meanings from one language to another (see J. G. Herder,
Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt (, also , ; ; 22 June 1767 – 8 April 1835) was a Prussian philosopher, linguist, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin, which was named after ...
,
Franz Boas Franz Uri Boas (July 9, 1858 – December 21, 1942) was a German-American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, soc ...
,
Edward Sapir Edward Sapir (; January 26, 1884 – February 4, 1939) was an American Jewish anthropologist-linguistics, linguist, who is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the development of the discipline of linguistics in the United ...
, and B. L. Whorf). Philosophy, sociology, and anthropology have long established traditions in contrasting the different nuances of the terms and concepts we use. Online encyclopaedias such as th
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
and Wikipedia itself have greatly facilitated the possibilities of comparing the background and usages of key cultural terms. In recent years the question of whether key terms are translatable or untranslatable has increasingly come to the fore of global discussions, especially since the publication of Barbara Cassin's ''Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon'', in 2014.


Computational semantics

Computational semantics is focused on the processing of linguistic meaning. In order to do this, concrete algorithms and architectures are described. Within this framework the algorithms and architectures are also analyzed in terms of decidability, time/space complexity,
data structure In computer science, a data structure is a data organization, management, and storage format that is usually chosen for Efficiency, efficient Data access, access to data. More precisely, a data structure is a collection of data values, the rel ...
s that they require and
communication protocol A communication protocol is a system of rules that allows two or more entities of a communications system to transmit information via any kind of variation of a physical quantity. The protocol defines the rules, syntax, semantics (computer scien ...
s.


Philosophy

Many of the formal approaches to semantics in
mathematical logic Mathematical logic is the study of formal logic within mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantiti ...
and
computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied science, practical discipli ...
originated in early twentieth century
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy, philosophy of language investigates the nature of language and the relations between language, language users, and the world. Investigations may include inquiry into the nature of Meaning (philosophy of language), meanin ...
and
philosophical logic Understood in a narrow sense, philosophical logic is the area of logic that studies the application of logical methods to philosophy, philosophical problems, often in the form of extended logical systems like modal logic. Some theorists conceive ph ...
. Initially, the most influential semantic theory stemmed from
Gottlob Frege Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (; ; 8 November 1848 – 26 July 1925) was a German philosopher, Mathematical logic, logician, and mathematician. He was a mathematics professor at the University of Jena, and is understood by many to be the fath ...
and
Bertrand Russell Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British mathematician, philosopher, logician, and public intellectual. He had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, ar ...
. Frege and Russell are seen as the originators of a tradition in
analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a Academic discipline, branch and Philosophical tradition, tradition of philosophy using philosophical analysis, analysis, popular in the Western world and particularly the Anglosphere, which began around the turn of the 2 ...
to explain meaning compositionally via syntax and mathematical functionality.
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrians, Austrian-British people, British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy o ...
, a former student of Russell, is also seen as one of the seminal figures in the analytic tradition. All three of these early philosophers of language were concerned with how sentences expressed information in the form of
proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is shared by all sentences with the same me ...
s. They also dealt with the truth values or truth conditions a given sentence has in virtue of the proposition it expresses. In present day philosophy, the term "semantics" is often used to refer to linguistic formal semantics, which bridges both linguistics and philosophy. There is also an active tradition of metasemantics, which studies the foundations of
natural language In neuropsychology, linguistics, and philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has linguistic evolution, evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditati ...
semantics.


Computer science

In
computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied science, practical discipli ...
, the term ''semantics'' refers to the meaning of language constructs, as opposed to their form (
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
). According to Euzenat, semantics "provides the rules for interpreting the syntax which do not provide the meaning directly but constrains the possible interpretations of what is declared".


Programming languages

The semantics of
programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer program, computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages, but they may also be visual programming language, graphical. They are a kind of computer ...
s and other languages is an important issue and area of study in computer science. Like the
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
of a language, its semantics can be defined exactly. For instance, the following statements use different syntaxes, but cause the same instructions to be executed, namely, perform an arithmetical addition of 'y' to 'x' and store the result in a variable called 'x': Various ways have been developed to describe the semantics of programming languages formally, building on
mathematical logic Mathematical logic is the study of formal logic within mathematics Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantiti ...
: *
Operational semantics Operational semantics is a category of Formal language, formal programming language Semantics (computer science), semantics in which certain desired properties of a Computer program, program, such as correctness, safety or security, are formal ve ...
: The meaning of a construct is specified by the computation it induces when it is executed on a machine. In particular, it is of interest ''how'' the effect of a computation is produced. *
Denotational semantics In computer science, denotational semantics (initially known as mathematical semantics or Scott–Strachey semantics) is an approach of formalizing the meanings of programming languages by constructing mathematical objects (called ''denotations'' ...
: Meanings are modelled by mathematical objects that represent the effect of executing the constructs. Thus, ''only'' the effect is of interest, not how it is obtained. *
Axiomatic semantics Axiomatic semantics is an approach based on mathematical logic for proving the correctness of computer programs. It is closely related to Hoare logic. Axiomatic semantics define the meaning of a command in a program by describing its effect on ass ...
: Specific properties of the effect of executing the constructs are expressed as ''assertions''. Thus there may be aspects of the executions that are ignored.


Semantic models

The Semantic Web refers to the extension of the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet. Documents and downloadable media are made available to the network through web se ...
via embedding added semantic
metadata Metadata is "data that provides information about other data", but not the content of the data, such as the text of a message or the image itself. There are many distinct types of metadata, including: * Descriptive metadata – the descriptive ...
, using semantic data modeling techniques such as
Resource Description Framework The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard originally designed as a data model for metadata. It has come to be used as a general method for description and exchange of graph data. RDF provides a variety of ...
(RDF) and
Web Ontology Language The Web Ontology Language (OWL) is a family of Knowledge representation and reasoning, knowledge representation languages for authoring Ontology (information science), ontologies. Ontologies are a formal way to describe taxonomies and classificat ...
(OWL). On the Semantic Web, terms such as ''
semantic network A semantic network, or frame network is a knowledge base that represents Semantics, semantic relations between concepts in a network. This is often used as a form of Knowledge representation and reasoning, knowledge representation. It is a dir ...
'' and '' semantic data model'' are used to describe particular types of data model characterized by the use of
directed graph In mathematics, and more specifically in graph theory, a directed graph (or digraph) is a Graph (discrete mathematics), graph that is made up of a set of Vertex (graph theory), vertices connected by directed Edge (graph theory), edges, often call ...
s in which the vertices denote concepts or entities in the world and their properties, and the arcs denote relationships between them. These can formally be described as description logic concepts and roles, which correspond to
OWL Owls are birds from the Order (biology), order Strigiformes (), which includes over 200 species of mostly Solitary animal, solitary and Nocturnal animal, nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vi ...
classes and properties.


Psychology


Semantic memory

In
psychology Psychology is the science, scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immens ...
, ''
semantic memory Semantic memory refers to general world knowledge that humans have accumulated throughout their lives. This general knowledge (word meanings, concepts, facts, and ideas) is intertwined in experience and dependent on culture Culture () i ...
'' is memory for meaning – in other words, the aspect of memory that preserves only the ''gist'', the general significance, of remembered experience – while
episodic memory Episodic memory is the memory Memory is the faculty of the mind by which data or information is Encoding (memory), encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing futur ...
is memory for the ephemeral details – the individual features, or the unique particulars of experience. The term "episodic memory" was introduced by Tulving and Schacter in the context of "declarative memory", which involved simple association of factual or objective information concerning its object. Word meaning is measured by the company they keep, i.e. the relationships among words themselves in a
semantic network A semantic network, or frame network is a knowledge base that represents Semantics, semantic relations between concepts in a network. This is often used as a form of Knowledge representation and reasoning, knowledge representation. It is a dir ...
. The memories may be transferred intergenerationally or isolated in one generation due to a cultural disruption. Different generations may have different experiences at similar points in their own time-lines. This may then create a vertically heterogeneous semantic net for certain words in an otherwise homogeneous culture. In a network created by people analyzing their understanding of the word (such as
Wordnet WordNet is a lexical database of semantic relations between words in more than 200 languages. WordNet links words into semantic relations including synonyms, hyponyms, and meronyms. The synonyms are grouped into ''synsets'' with short definitions ...
) the links and decomposition structures of the network are few in number and kind, and include ''part of'', ''kind of'', and similar links. In automated ontologies the links are computed vectors without explicit meaning. Various automated technologies are being developed to compute the meaning of words:
latent semantic indexing Latent semantic analysis (LSA) is a technique in natural language processing, in particular distributional semantics, of analyzing relationships between a set of documents and the terms they contain by producing a set of concepts related to the do ...
and support vector machines, as well as
natural language processing Natural language processing (NLP) is an interdisciplinary subfield of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human language, in particular how to program computers to proc ...
,
artificial neural network Artificial neural networks (ANNs), usually simply called neural networks (NNs) or neural nets, are computing systems inspired by the biological neural networks that constitute animal brains. An ANN is based on a collection of connected units ...
s and
predicate calculus Predicate or predication may refer to: * Predicate (grammar), in linguistics * Predication (philosophy) * several closely related uses in mathematics and formal logic: **Predicate (mathematical logic) **Propositional function **Finitary relation, o ...
techniques.


Ideasthesia

Ideasthesia Ideasthesia (alternative spelling ideaesthesia) is a neuropsychological phenomenon in which activations of concepts (inducers) evoke perception-like sensory experiences (concurrents). The name comes from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek ...
is a psychological phenomenon in which activation of concepts evokes sensory experiences. For example, in synesthesia, activation of a concept of a letter (e.g., that of the letter ''A'') evokes sensory-like experiences (e.g., of red color).


Psychosemantics

In the 1960s, psychosemantic studies became popular after Charles E. Osgood's massive cross-cultural studies using his semantic differential (SD) method that used thousands of nouns and adjective bipolar scales. A specific form of the SD, Projective Semantics method uses only most common and neutral nouns that correspond to the 7 groups (factors) of adjective-scales most consistently found in cross-cultural studies (Evaluation, Potency, Activity as found by Osgood, and Reality, Organization, Complexity, Limitation as found in other studies). In this method, seven groups of bipolar adjective scales corresponded to seven types of nouns so the method was thought to have the object-scale symmetry (OSS) between the scales and nouns for evaluation using these scales. For example, the nouns corresponding to the listed 7 factors would be: Beauty, Power, Motion, Life, Work, Chaos, Law. Beauty was expected to be assessed unequivocally as "very good" on adjectives of Evaluation-related scales, Life as "very real" on Reality-related scales, etc. However, deviations in this symmetric and very basic matrix might show underlying biases of two types: scales-related bias and objects-related bias. This OSS design meant to increase the sensitivity of the SD method to any semantic biases in responses of people within the same culture and educational background.


Prototype theory

Another set of concepts related to fuzziness in semantics is based on
prototypes A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics, design, electronics, and Software prototyping, software programming. A prototyp ...
. The work of Eleanor Rosch in the 1970s led to a view that natural categories are not characterizable in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, but are graded (fuzzy at their boundaries) and inconsistent as to the status of their constituent members. One may compare it with
Jung Carl Gustav Jung ( ; ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung's work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philo ...
's
archetype The concept of an archetype (; ) appears in areas relating to behavior, History of psychology#Emergence of German experimental psychology, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An archetype can be any of the following: # a statement, pat ...
, though the concept of
archetype The concept of an archetype (; ) appears in areas relating to behavior, History of psychology#Emergence of German experimental psychology, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An archetype can be any of the following: # a statement, pat ...
sticks to static concept. Some post-structuralists are against the fixed or static meaning of the
words A word is a basic element of language that carries an semantics, objective or pragmatics, practical semantics, meaning, can be used on its own, and is uninterruptible. Despite the fact that language speakers often have an intuitive grasp of w ...
. Derrida, following
Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, Prose poetry, prose poet, cultural critic, Philology, philologist, and composer whose work has exerted a profound influence on contemporary philo ...
, talked about slippages in fixed meanings. Systems of categories are not objectively ''out there'' in the world but are rooted in people's experience. These categories evolve as learned concepts of the world – meaning is not an objective truth, but a subjective construct, learned from experience, and language arises out of the "grounding of our conceptual systems in shared embodiment and bodily experience". A corollary of this is that the conceptual categories (i.e. the lexicon) will not be identical for different cultures, or indeed, for every individual in the same culture. This leads to another debate (see the
Sapir–Whorf hypothesis The hypothesis of linguistic relativity, also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis , the Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, is a principle suggesting that the structure of a language affects its speakers' world view, worldview or cognition, and ...
or
Eskimo words for snow The claim that Eskimo words for snow (specifically Yupik languages, Yupik and Inuit languages, Inuit words) are unusually numerous, particularly in contrast to English, is often used to support the controversial Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, linguis ...
).


See also

*


Notes


References


External links


Semanticsarchive.net


for
GCE Advanced Level The A-Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by Education in the United Kingdom, the educational bodies in the United ...
semantics
"Semantics: an interview with Jerry Fodor"
{{Authority control Concepts in logic Grammar + Meaning (philosophy of language) Social philosophy