Semantics

Semantics is the study of meaning...
What is meaning?
How is meaning created in language?
How do people understand language and why do we understand it like we do?

These are some of the questions that semantics tries to answer. One of the main reasons we use language is to pass meaning from one person to another, and semantics looks at how it all works.

Geoffrey Leech, Author of Semantics (1974) talks about why he chose to study Semantics...             
                                                                                                                                                             
"When I was a student, 55 years ago, the current climate
of linguistic thinking was against semantics. This was the era when American structuralism was in the ascendant, and it was considered that meaning could not be studied objectively, and therefore had to be ignored.

At that time (1962) I was working with Michael (M.A.K.) Halliday, the most brilliant mind in British linguistics, who was developing his own theories. I asked him which of two fields (morphology or semantics – both of which I thought needed to be developed within his theory) I should focus on, and he recommended semantics. This pleased me, as it had seemed to me absurd that linguists of that era concentrated on phonetics, phonology and syntax, and ignored meaning. 

After all, what is the point of language without meaning?

After that I wrote my PhD thesis on the semantics of English, and it was later published as a book (1969). I was then asked to write a more popular book on semantics for the general reader – a book that came out in the Penguin linguistic series in 1974. The rest, as they say, is history!"

Professor Geoffrey Leech

Find out more about Professor Leech's work and other key researchers in Semantics on the Who Does Semantics page.

 
In this section of the web site you will find...
In this section of the website you will find out about what meaning is and how it is created, what Semantics is and how, where, when and why it has been studied as well as finding out about some of the key figures in the field and some of the research that has been done in semantics.

There is also a section where you can find resources to find out more about semantics and some games and quizzes to check the knowledge you can have gained from this section of the website.

To find out more about what semantics is please follow this link.