In general, semantics (from the Greek semantikos, or "significant meaning," derived fromsema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term. Semantics is often opposed to syntax , in which case the former pertains to what something means while the latter pertains to theformal structure/patterns in which something is expressed (e.g. written or spoken).
Several more particular senses of the word can be identified:
Semantics is a subfield of linguistics that istraditionally defined as the study of meaning of (parts of) words, phrases,sentences, and texts. Semantics can be approached from a theoretical as well as an empirical (e.g.psycholinguistic) point of view. The decompositional perspective towards meaning holds that the meaning of words can be analyzedby defining meaning atoms or primitives, which establish a language of thought. An area of study is the meaningof compounds , another is the study of relations between different linguisticexpressions ( homonymy , synonymy , antonymy , polysemy , hypernymy , hyponymy , meronymy , holonymy , exocentric , and endocentric ). Semantics includes the studyof thematic roles , argument structure, and its linking to syntax . Semantics deals with sense and reference, truth conditions and discourse analysis . Pragmatics is often considered apart of semantics.
In mathematics and computer science
Many of the formal approaches to semantics applied in linguistics, mathematical logic and computer science originated intechniques for the semantics of logic , most influentially being Alfred Tarski 's ideas in model theory and his semantic theoryof truth . Also, inferential role semantics has its roots in the work of Gerhard Gentzen on proof theory and proof-theoretic semantics .
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