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Meaning is a central notion of semantics und pragmatics.


Depending on the theoretical approach taken meaning is defined and used differently. There are several reasons for the manifold ambiguity of this notion: First, meaning is not only highly relevant to linguistics but also figures centrally in philosphical, psychological, sociological and semiotic discourse; second, the adoption or (partially) synonymous expressions from different languages (e.g. German Sinn, Bedeutung, French signification, designation, etc.) has led to considerable overlap in the use of the relevant terms and, as a consequence, to a rather vague concept of what meaning is.


In semantic studies several terminological distinctions are made, most of which relate to one of the following dimensions of analysis:

Independently of the notion of meaning underlying a given conception of semantics, any framework of semantic analysis needs to address two central issues, (i) the relation between lexical semantics and sentence semantics, and the problem of how semantic and pragmatic aspects of meaning can be differentiated.

See also

sense - intension

Original source

WikiLingua 2006

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