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29 September 2011


Semantics (from Greek sēmantiká, neuter plural of sēmantikós) is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols, and what they stand for, their denotata.

Linguistic semantics is the study of meaning that is used by humans to express themselves through language. Other forms of semantics include the semantics of programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics.

The word "semantics" itself denotes a range of ideas, from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal inquiries, over a long period of time, most notably in the field of formal semantics. In linguistics, it is the study of interpretation of signs or symbols as used by agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts. Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, and proxemics have semantic (meaningful) content, and each has several branches of study. In written language, such things as paragraph structure and punctuation have semantic content; in other forms of language, there is other semantic content.

I love words. I love that they have defined meanings, that they can be used in both a literal or figurative manner. I love that they are malleable, and can change over time to incorporate different ideas and meanings. Constantly in my life I am making up new bastardizations of words, or new meanings based on inside jokes; names, verbs, nouns, everything. I hold words very closely to me, as words are mostly thrown around without thought to effect or interpretation. It has been a day of words, a week of trying to standardize the way in which multiple people use and are affected by specific words and their meanings.

I've sat before in a large group and argued my point in what words mean many a time over a large span of years. Which ones are completely useless except to incite, which ones have more meaning for what they mean, and which are ignorant for the sake of the person using them. I have a hard time understanding when people misuse words, seeing the way the can easily control an emotion. Language is already an impossibly difficult thing to master in connotation and emphasis, and it is always going to fail to overcome a preset notion when a specific word is misused.

Every audience requires a different set of words. There are always going to be difficulties in trying to match up the user to the receptive listener, which in some ways, makes it a wonderfully fun challenge. Other times you want to run screaming from a room just to escape the emotion a word can create.

Today was a day of words, as was the week. A horribly difficult week of scraping up an impassible mountain full of words and ideas without a summit. May tomorrow be better.