Pragmatics and Semantics

Pragmatics and semantics are two branches of linguistics according to (Hassa, 2016),  

“… that are related to the meaning of language, there is a major difference between the two. Knowing the difference between semantics and pragmatics can help clear the misunderstandings and miscommunication in language.”  So, what is the difference between these two branches of linguistics, how is this important to human communication and how can teachers use this information in the classroom?  

What is the Difference between Pragmatics and Semantics? 

While semantics and pragmatics both deal with words and their meaning, pragmatics goes further into the intended meaning that the speaker is trying to convey while semantics is only concerned with what the words mean. According to Szabó (2005), “Semantics is the study of meaning, or more precisely, the study of the relation between linguistic expressions and their meaning.” This means semantics is the study of words and what they mean. Semantics is not concerned with how the writer or speaker is using the words. It is just interested in what the words or phrases mean. According to the article, What is Pragmatics? “Pragmatics studies how language is used by real people in real context, in spoken discourse and written contexts, and is highly influenced by cultural and social contexts.” Pragmatics is still interested in what the words mean as in semantics, but it goes deeper into the context the words are spoken. Pragmatics deals with context while semantics does not.  

Why is Semantic and Pragmatic Interpretation so Important to Human Communication? 

Why are these two areas of linguistics important to human communication? Language is essential in communication whether it be through sign language, brail or another means of communication. Understanding language is important to how we as humans communicate. “Meaning seems at once the most obvious feature of language and the most obscure aspect to study. It is obvious because it is what we use language for–to communicate with each other, to convey.” And therefore, pragmatics and semantics are so important to human communication because it is how we communicate. One needs to know what the words mean, their basic dictionary meaning to be able to speak, write and understand. One then must understand what the speaker is trying to say, the message they are trying to convey to be able communicate effectively. When someone is learning a new language, these two branches of linguistics are important to study. They need to first learn what the dictionary meaning of some words are so they have some vocabulary and then they can work on what the speaker means. Without semantics and pragmatics, we would not be able to communicate.  

How Can Knowledge of Semantics and Pragmatics Inform Your Teaching? 

Now let’s think about our students who have a challenging time with pragmatics. This can be difficult concept for young children, English Language Learners, people with a hearing impairment, and those with Autism. This comes into play in social media where it is difficult to understand the tone in someone’s typing and therefore it is difficult to understand what the person means. Understanding this helps us know that we need to choose our words wisely. Something you type might be innocent, but someone might interpret what you typed differently than what you meant to say. Sarcasm is difficult to detect in chats. It is far easier to understand sarcasm when you can hear what the person is saying and hear the tone in their voice. 

Students who have a hearing impairment may miss the tone when someone speaks. They may rely on sign language, but then again just like typing in a chat or a message, they can miss the tone. Students with Autism and young children have a challenging time understanding social cues. They often do not understand sarcasm and often misinterpret situations.  

How Can Teachers Use This Information to Facilitate Learning in Their Own Classrooms? 

 According to the article, What is Semantics, “ELLs are learning both social and academic language of English. Social language, or playground and everyday speech can take only 1-2 years to develop.”  Teachers can help these students by encouraging students to “explore words, looking at origins of words, connections and similarities of words between languages…” This will help them become better communicators.  

Often, when teaching literature, I ask my students, “What is the author trying to tell us?  What does this sentence mean? What is the speaker trying to convey?”  I have some students who have Autism, and at times we talk about “reading the room”. Which means reading the atmosphere of the room before commenting on something. And by knowing the atmosphere, it will help them understand what the speaker is trying to say or what they mean to say. For example, when my daughter was little, I told her to “Hold her horses.” She left the room and came back holding her My Little Pony’s and said, “Okay mom I am holding my horses.” We all had a big laugh, but then I explained what it meant and why we say it. Years ago, when horses and stagecoaches were the way we traveled, when you wanted someone to slow down you told them to “hold their horses.” At that point they were actually holding real horses, today it is an idiom which means to slow down. When these situations occur, the teacher should explain the significance of the word or the phrase and explain what the speaker means by what they said.  

Conclusion 

 Pragmatics and semantics are two branches of linguistics with semantics dealing only with the meaning of words and pragmatics dealing with word meaning and how these words are used. “Knowing the difference between semantics and pragmatics can help clear the misunderstandings and miscommunication in language” (Hassa, 2016).  

Page BreakReferences 

Hassa, (2016 November 16). The Difference Between. Retrieved from     https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-semantics-and-vs-pragmatics/ 

Ladusaw, W. (n.d.). Meaning (Semantics and Pragmatics). Retrieved from     https://www.linguisticsociety.org/resource/meaning-semantics-and-pragmatics

Szabó, Z.G. (2005 October 18). The Distinction between Semantics and Pragmatics. Retrieved  from https://cpb-us2.wpmucdn.com/campuspress.yale.edu/dist/d/1148/files/2015/10/The-  Distinction-between-Semantics-and-Pragmatics-1n5ehuq.pdf. 

What is Pragmatics? (n.d.). Retrieved from                                                                     https://linguisticsforteachersofells.weebly.com/pragmatics-in-the-classroom.html.  

What is Semantics? (n.d.). Retrieved from                                                                   https://linguisticsforteachersofells.weebly.com/semantics-in-the-classroom.html

What to do?

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What to do?
Have you ever wanted to talk to someone who you are mad at?
Have you ever waited a while and found out you are not as mad as you were before?
Then have you ever thought, maybe they should talk to me first.
Then have you ever thought, maybe I am better off without this person in my life?

What does forgiveness entail?
Do I have to tell them I forgive them?
Do I have to explain why I was upset?
Do I have to beg the person, even though I think I was the one in the right?

Why can’t I let things just be?
Why can’t I let things rest?
Why can’t this be easy?
Why can’t I be normal?

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Birth After Miscarriage (Free Book)

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Free book from November 28th to December 2!!!!

I always wanted to be a mom. After my miscarriage, I thought it would never happen. God had a wonderful plan for my life. I just have to wait and put my faith in Him. Many women suffer the tremendous loss of a miscarriage. They often believe they are alone, but they are never alone. Rest assured that it is not anyone’s fault! It is simply a sad component of life. In every four pregnancies, one ends in a miscarriage. I am sharing my story to help other women who have experienced the same pain I have.

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The Lady of the Lake — Silvanna Snow

This is an erotic novel intended for adult audiences. What should you expect from this book? Sex, smut and lots of it. I hope you enjoy it! The small remote village of Caidhreamh Collai is home to some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring views nature can offer. Nestled between two mountains, the village is […]

The Lady of the Lake — Silvanna Snow

Everyone Need That One Friend

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Everyone needs that one friend.
Who will support you and lift you up.
Who will never tear you down. 

Everyone needs that one friend.
Who will always have your back.
Who will never turn on you.

Everyone needs that one friend,
Who will listen to your success.
And belittle you.

Everyone needs that one friend.
Who defends you just because.
And who will never speak ill of you.

Everyone needs that one friend. 
Are you that one friend to someone?
Do you need that one friend?

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You Make Me Feel

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You make me feel confident.
You make me feel like I can make a difference. 
You make me feel like what I do is important. 

You make me feel valued.
Like I can accomplish my goals.
Like my goals mean something. 

You make me feel talented.
Like what I write is good.
Like my writing is a worthwhile endeavor.

You make me feel complete.
Like I have been waiting my entire life for you.
Like my life finally makes sense. 


No one has ever done this for me before.

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I am a Star

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I am a star.
You don’t always see me,
But know I am there.

I am a star.
Praying and watching over you.
I am a star.
Always here, no matter what. 

I am a star.
No matter what,
No matter when,
No matter what has happened in the past,
I am a star, and I am always here.

I am a star.
You don’t always see me,
But know I am there.
I am here always.

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Never Alone

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I used to chase you
I used to beg you
But no more

I will no longer beg and fret.
I will no longer lay awake at night and worry.
I will no longer worry, for those days are over.

I used to chase people.
I used to beg them to stay.
But no more.

I stand firm and I know I am right.
I stand firm, and i know I am good enough
I stand firm and I am not alone.
Never have I been alone!


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Intense

I might be abrasive
I might be passionate
I might love too much
I might say too much
I might ask too much
I might expect too much

Despite all of that you know I care.
Do not put me in a box
Tell me now to act
Tell me to be like you
I am not you.

So, 
I might be abrasive
I might be passionate
I might love too much
I might say too much
I might ask too much
I might expect too much


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It’s a Curse

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It is a curse,
To never think your good enough
To question everything
To not accept the good things in life as real.  

You wait for the bottom to fall out.
You wait for everyone to leave.
You anxiously see signs everywhere,
When nothing is wrong.

You question yourself with every task.
Did I write this right?
Did I say that right?
Did they understand me?

Never going with your gut
Never accepting you are talented
Never accepting yourself. 

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