What is the difference between semantics and pragmatics

Registered since: May 1st, 2020 9:19 am
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01.05.2020, 09:25:44
I hope I can post it in this sub-forum, it fits in both semantics and pragmatics, but couldn't make up my mind.

I have a question, but I don't know whether it's totally stupid and I'm missing something. I have a semantics-pragmatics problem.

The following words have a clear difference (I always start from my inner worldview, it may be that others see things differently): (1) Designates a house that does not deviate too much from the norm in terms of size. (2) is a house that is smaller than the average house.

(1) house

(2) little house

The latter can then be used pragmatically to give a negative connotation to a house that actually corresponds to the standardized size, e.g. to express that I have a much larger house, right?

(3) But you have a nice little house.

If that was correct so far, I come to my real problem and that is the following two sentences.

(4) Have a beer.

(5) Have a beer.

Let us now imagine an idealized world in which beer only comes in one size, so the diminutive suffix here does not express the size of the beer. Then the difference between (4) and (5) is not a semantic one, but a pragmatic one, right? Because yes, if there is no semantic difference between beer and beer, the two sentences, viewed in isolation, mean exactly the same thing. The difference is then in which context I use which sentence?
If I followed my gut instinct, would (5) - definitely for me - imply a situation that is more relaxed and the focus is more on the activity rather than the beer?

Sorry if the question is kind of naive but I really don't get it :)
04.05.2020, 13:16:08
Hello linguism!


About your first example:

Whether the diminutive has a denotative (semantic) or connotative (pragmatic) meaning depends on the context.
If it is a semantic diminutive, a "house" is a small house, as you correctly noted:

"We have a house on Lake Constance, we always go there during the summer holidays."

Probably not a villa is meant here, but a holiday cabin.
In the context of your example sentence (3), however, it could also be a pragmatic diminutive:

"But you have a nice little house."

This sentence would not be out of place if it referred to a villa. In this case it would be meant ironically, which indicates a pragmatic use of the diminutive. The connotation doesn't need to be negative at all.


To your second example:

In addition to the obviously pragmatic one, a semantic diminutive could also be meant here (5), if only a small beer is actually meant:

"Let's go have a beer [but not too much, I have to go later]."

The use of the diminutive in connection with the familial adhortative ("Lass mal") would have to be analyzed pragmatically at the same time, since it would not be used in a formal context.


I hope I could help you.
And I don't find your question naive, don't worry. (;

With best regards
Yaouoay
Registered since: 05/29/2020 3:46 AM
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30.05.2020, 23:24:31
Oh, I have a question too. The difference between pragmatics and semantics is also often unclear to me.
Can probably give me one example where it is clearly pragmatic, clearly semantic and another example where it is unclear or both would be possible.
When I say: shall we go for a walk for an hour? - Then the hourly is pragmatic because an hour always has 60 minutes and the diminutuv is used more affectively or pejoratively.
But can't the meaning (semantics) also simply be affective / pejorative in this case?
When I say: the tree is big. Then the semantics of the word big is high etc. (Because the tree is really 5m high)
When I say: sweet dreams! Then the use of the word sweet is both semantic (nice dreams, peaceful sleep, etc.
I am a bit confused.
Registered since: 05/29/2020 3:46 AM
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30.05.2020, 23:34:20
So semantics is the "real" meaning and pragmatics takes a closer look, so to speak.
When I say: "He fell asleep peacefully". Is the euphemism for dying then also to be viewed pragmatically, because the semantic meaning is not sleep in the sense of rest?
31.05.2020, 00:13:54
Put simply, one looks at the denotation of a term or a statement (meaning / information level) in semantics and at the connotation (opinion / relationship level) in pragmatics.
A fundamental differentiator is that pragmatics mainly analyzes the non-literal and contextual. The less “lexical” the message conveyed, the more likely it is to be assigned to pragmatics.


Quote:Shall we go for an hour for a walk? - Then the hourly is pragmatic because an hour always has 60 minutes and the diminutuv is used more affectively or pejoratively.

But can't the meaning (semantics) also simply be affective / pejorative in this case?

No, because semantics don't care about contextual connotation. If you approach the statement in a purely semantic way, you could actually analyze the hour as a “barely hour”, i.e. less than 60 minutes. Only with a pragmatic view can the connotative level be developed.

Quote:When I say: "He fell asleep peacefully". Is the euphemism for dying then also to be viewed pragmatically, because the semantic meaning is not sleep in the sense of rest?

On the semantic level, the general meaning of the sentence does not change, only the (here) emotional level is missing.
Semantically one could paraphrase the sentence as "He died peacefully". A euphemism per se already has both a denotative and a connotative side.
On the pragmatic level, the affective aspect ("... and the good man should rest in peace, God bless him ...", depending on the context) would then be added.
EDIT: Without any context, you can of course understand the sentence "He fell asleep peacefully" quite literally, which I put a little off the top above. However, if the statement clearly refers to the death of a person in a context, this analysis (falling asleep = dying) would already be semantic and the emotional one would be pragmatic.

Does that erase a few question marks for you? (:

LG ~ Y
31.05.2020, 09:44:44
To put it quite simply: semantics examines the (general) meaning, more in the direction of what would then be in a lexicon (dictionary), for example. Pragmatics examines the use (s) conditions, which are then more of the things that are in language textbooks and phrasebooks in pretty info boxes on language use and "dos and don'ts".

The semantics tell us that rust arbor, vehicle, cart, car, vehicle, motor vehicle, passenger car, vehicle, sledge, body, noble body, etc. can all be applied to the same class of things. Pragmatics examines in which context and towards which target group one or the other form should be preferred or avoided. In a round table discussion, the rust arbor is ok, in an interview (especially from the mouth of the person introducing himself / herself) rather less. Whether the individual terms are metonymies / metaphors (such as the sled) is rather irrelevant for pragmatics, this is a semantic question.
31.05.2020, 10:48:53
The semiotic definitions of Charles Morris, who is said to have established the modern meaning of the term "pragmatics", often help me to distinguish between semantics and pragmatics (and syntax):

Quote:One may study the relation of signs to the objects to which the signs are applicable. This relation will be called the semantical dimension of semiosis, [...] the study of this relation will be called semantics. Or the subject of study may be the relation of signs to interpreters. This relation will be called the pragmatic dimension of semiosis [...] and the study of this dimension will be named pragmatics. [...]
(Morris 1938: 6f.)[1]

In my opinion, this clarifies both the examples of the diminutives and the sleep / die euphemism relatively well, because after a detailed analysis it becomes clear that (as the others already said) it is not context-free but context - or "interpretant" -dependent meanings. Sleeping initially only means sleeping, but in certain communication situations it can also be used differently.
Footnotes:
  1. Morris, Charles (1938). Foundations of the Theory of Signs. Vol. 1. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science 2. Chicago et al .: Chicago University Press.
31.05.2020, 11:20:47
Quote:So falling asleep can mean sleeping peacefully on a semantic level, although sleeping peacefully can basically only mean sleeping in the sense of sleeping (resting). The difference to the hour is not clear to me. I don't understand why falling asleep here can semantically mean dying ...


The lexeme has (at least) two meanings: one literally (going from waking to sleeping), the other transmitting (to die, fall asleep). Just like with janwo's sledge, which can literally be a vehicle with runners as well as a car in the figurative sense, this is a semantic consideration as it is only analyzed on the level of meaning.
If one adds the pragmatic level, one goes into the connotative meanings of "falling asleep" and "sledge", which among other things. depends on the context (i.e. the speaker-addressee relationship, the conversation context and environment, the (shared) prior knowledge, etc.). Without such a context, one can only undertake a very superficial, pragmatic consideration of the terms ("fall asleep" as an affective euphemism for "die").


The diminutive also has both a semantic extension (diminutive or lexicalized meaning as in "girls") and a pragmatic one (belittling, affective, pejorative, trivializing etc.). The hour could therefore be a "less than an hour, i.e. less than 60 minutes" without any context and only semantically (in the sense of the diminutive), in most contexts, however, an even more comprehensive meaning opens up from a pragmatic point of view.

"Let's go for an hour's walk."

Here the affective connotation is imposed. Let's look at it in contrast to a diminutive-free form:

"Let's go for another hour for a walk."

In the absence of the diminutive, the sentence appears factual and perhaps uninviting. The diminutive builds (in this context) a familiarity, which is reinforced by the adhortative ("Let's go").
To take it further: From a pragmatic point of view, it is probably not even a walk of 60 minutes, but rather an affective description of "a while", "a little", "about an hour".

Perhaps this approach will also help you: Imagine saying this sentence to someone with autism. To put it simply, he would only grasp the semantic level and think that you literally mean "almost an hour" and at some point while walking you would look at the clock and say: "You said we would take a walk for an hour. In a minute we will Having walked for sixty minutes is then no longer an hour. " The pragmatic view is only accessible to him to a limited extent.


So again in other words:
The context of use is irrelevant for a semantic consideration, as it uses the general, comprehensive meaning of the term.
For a pragmatic view, the general comprehensive meaning is irrelevant, since it is only interested in the specific meaning and connotation in the context of use.

LG ~ Y
Registered since: 05/29/2020 3:46 AM
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06/01/2020, 12:09:55 AM (This post was last edited: 06/01/2020, 10:12:58 AM by Yaouoay. three contributions merged )
Thank you, thank you very much!

How about metaphors, for example a long text about a "rescue package" or "rescue package". That doesn't mean a real package, but financial help for certain industries, for example (currently catering in the Corona crisis).
Is the pragmatics everything about the meaning of 1. literally 2. financial rescue in the form of loans, emergency aid etc. (i.e. semantics)
goes out?

Or what about metaphors, metonymy and other figures in terms of semantics / pragmatics in general?
Yaouoay wrote June 1st, 2020, 10:12:58 am:
Please do not post several posts one after the other in the future, this will be confusing for the respondents. If you can think of something after submitting your post, you can still edit it.
01.06.2020, 11:34:09
(01.06.2020, 00:09:55) Lysann wrote: How about metaphors, for example a long text about a "rescue package" or "rescue package". That doesn't mean a real package, but financial help for certain industries, for example (currently catering in the Corona crisis).
That's all semantics.

(01.06.2020, 00:09:55) Lysann wrote: Is the pragmatics everything that goes beyond the meaning of 1. literally 2. financial rescue in the form of loans, emergency aid, etc. (i.e. semantics)?
Jain. Not "everything", but whenever it comes to the use (conditions). If, for example, certain industries, trade unions, parties were to link different ideologies with different terms, that would go in the direction of pragmatism. Is not necessarily so clearly visible in the word example.


(01.06.2020, 00:09:55) Lysann wrote: Or what about metaphors, metonymy and other figures in terms of semantics / pragmatics in general?
The semantics tell us what it means (literally or figuratively), the pragmatics tell us when to use it.
Registered since: 05/29/2020 3:46 AM
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03.06.2020, 02:25:06
Why is the hour to be viewed more pragmatically and the rescue parachute metaphor more semantically?