Meaning (linguistics)

In linguistics, meaning is the information or concepts that a sender intends to convey, or does convey, in communication with a receiver.
Pragmatics is the study of how context affects meaning. The two primary forms of context important to pragmatics are linguistic context and situation context.
Linguistic context is how meaning is understood without relying on intent and assumptions. In applied pragmatics, for example, meaning is formed through sensory experiences, even though sensory stimulus cannot be easily articulated in language or signs. Pragmatics, then, reveals that meaning is both something affected by and affecting the world. Meaning is something contextual with respect to language and the world, and is also something active toward other meanings and the world. Linguistic context becomes important when looking at particular linguistic problems such as that of pronouns.
Situation context refers to every non-linguistic factor that affects the meaning of a phrase. An example of situation context can be seen in the phrase "it's cold in here", which can either be a simple statement of fact or a request to turn up the heat, depending on, among other things, whether or not it is believed to be in the listener's power to affect the temperature.
Languages allow information to be conveyed even when the specific words used are not known by the reader or listener. People connect words with meaning and use words to refer to concepts. A person's intentions affect what is meant. Meaning (in English) as intent harkens back to the Anglo-Saxons and is associated today still, with the German verb meinen as to think or intend.

 


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