SEMANTICS is derived from French word sémantique, applied by MICHEL BRÉAL (1883) to the psychology of language, from Greek semantikos “significant,” from semainein “to show by sign, signify, point out, indicate by a sign,” from sema “sign, mark, token; omen, portent; constellation; grave”. Semantics is the study of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences. Every language has the source of expression of meaningful ideas. This term refers to the study of meaning and the systematic ways those meanings are expressed in language.
The structure of a language expresses the meaning which exists in one’s mind. The idea may be conveyed through the written and spoken forms of a language. As semantics is the study of meaning in language and language is used to express meanings which can be understood by others. So, semantics is that level of linguistics analysis where meaning is analysed. It is the most abstract level of linguistics analysis since one cannot see or observes meaning as one can observe and record sounds. Meaning is related very closely to the human capacity to think logically and to understand. Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics by JACK C. RICHARDS and RICHARD SCHMIDT defines Semantics as:
“The study of meaning. There are many different approaches to the way in which meaning in language is studied.”
A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics by DAVID CRYSTAL defines it as:
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