Semantics

Semantics

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Encyclopedia
Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as word
Word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

s, phrase
Phrase
In everyday speech, a phrase may refer to any group of words. In linguistics, a phrase is a group of words which form a constituent and so function as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence. A phrase is lower on the grammatical hierarchy than a clause....

s, sign
Sign
A sign is something that implies a connection between itself and its object. A natural sign bears a causal relation to its object—for instance, thunder is a sign of storm. A conventional sign signifies by agreement, as a full stop signifies the end of a sentence...

s and symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, and what they stand for, their denotata
Denotation
This word has distinct meanings in other fields: see denotation . For the opposite of Denotation see Connotation.*In logic, linguistics and semiotics, the denotation of a word or phrase is a part of its meaning; however, the part referred to varies by context:** In grammar and literary theory, the...

.

Linguistic semantics is the study of meaning that is used by humans to express themselves through language. Other forms of semantics include the semantics of programming languages, formal logics, and semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

.

The word "semantics" itself denotes a range of ideas, from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation
Connotation
A connotation is a commonly understood subjective cultural or emotional association that some word or phrase carries, in addition to the word's or phrase's explicit or literal meaning, which is its denotation....

. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal inquiries, over a long period of time, most notably in the field of formal semantics
Formal semantics (linguistics)
In linguistics, formal semantics seeks to understand linguistic meaning by constructing precise mathematical models of the principles that speakers use to define relations between expressions in a natural language and the world which supports meaningful discourse.The mathematical tools used are the...

. In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, it is the study of interpretation of signs or symbols as used by agent
Agent (grammar)
In linguistics, a grammatical agent is the cause or initiator of an event. Agent is the name of the thematic role...

s or communities
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

 within particular circumstances and contexts. Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, and proxemics
Proxemics
Proxemics is the study of measurable distances between people as they interact. The term was introduced by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in 1966...

 have semantic (meaningful) content, and each has several branches of study. In written language, such things as paragraph structure and punctuation have semantic content; in other forms of language, there is other semantic content.

The formal study of semantics intersects with many other fields of inquiry, including lexicology
Lexicology
Lexicology is the part of linguistics which studies words, their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words , word groups and the whole lexicon....

, syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

, pragmatics
Pragmatics
Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the...

, etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 and others, although semantics is a well-defined field in its own right, often with synthetic properties. In philosophy of language
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language...

, semantics and reference
Reference
Reference is derived from Middle English referren, from Middle French rèférer, from Latin referre, "to carry back", formed from the prefix re- and ferre, "to bear"...

 are closely connected. Further related fields include philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, and semiotics
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

. The formal study of semantics is therefore complex.

Semantics contrasts with syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

, the study of the combinatorics of units of a language (without reference to their meaning), and pragmatics
Pragmatics
Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. It studies how the...

, the study of the relationships between the symbols of a language, their meaning, and the users of the language.

In international scientific vocabulary
International Scientific Vocabulary
International scientific vocabulary comprises scientific and specialized words whose language of origin may or may not be certain, but which are in current use in several modern languages. The name "International Scientific Vocabulary" was first used by Philip Gove in Webster’s Third New...

 semantics is also called semasiology
Semasiology
Semasiology is a discipline within linguistics concerned with the question "what does the word X mean?". It studies the meaning of words regardless of their phonetic expression. Semasiology departs from a word or lexical expression and asks for its meaning, its different senses, i.e. polysemy...

.

Linguistics


In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, semantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

 (referred to as texts).
The basic area of study is the meaning of signs
Sign (semiotics)
A sign is understood as a discrete unit of meaning in semiotics. It is defined as "something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity" It includes words, images, gestures, scents, tastes, textures, sounds – essentially all of the ways in which information can be...

, and the study of relations between different linguistic units: homonym
Homonym
In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that often but not necessarily share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings...

y, synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

y, antonym
Antonym
In lexical semantics, opposites are words that lie in an inherently incompatible binary relationship as in the opposite pairs male : female, long : short, up : down, and precede : follow. The notion of incompatibility here refers to the fact that one word in an opposite pair entails that it is not...

y, polysemy
Polysemy
Polysemy is the capacity for a sign or signs to have multiple meanings , i.e., a large semantic field.Charles Fillmore and Beryl Atkins’ definition stipulates three elements: the various senses of a polysemous word have a central origin, the links between these senses form a network, and ...

, paronyms, hypernym
Hypernym
In linguistics, a hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is included within that of another word, its hypernym . In simpler terms, a hyponym shares a type-of relationship with its hypernym...

y, hyponymy, meronymy
Meronymy
Meronymy is a semantic relation used in linguistics. A meronym denotes a constituent part of, or a member of something. That is,...

, metonymy
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

, holonymy
Holonymy
Holonymy is a semantic relation. Holonymy defines the relationship between a term denoting the whole and a term denoting a part of, or a member of, the whole. That is,...

, linguistic compounds
Compound (linguistics)
In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

. A key concern is how meaning attaches to larger chunks of text, possibly as a result of the composition from smaller units of meaning.
Traditionally, semantics has included the study of sense
Word sense
In linguistics, a word sense is one of the meanings of a word.For example a dictionary may have over 50 different meanings of the word , each of these having a different meaning based on the context of the word usage in a sentence...

and denotative reference
Reference
Reference is derived from Middle English referren, from Middle French rèférer, from Latin referre, "to carry back", formed from the prefix re- and ferre, "to bear"...

, truth condition
Truth condition
In semantics, truth conditions are what obtain precisely when a sentence is true. For example, "It is snowing in Nebraska" is true precisely when it is snowing in Nebraska....

s, argument structure, thematic role
Thematic role
Thematic role is a linguistic notion, which may refer to:* Theta role * Thematic relation...

s, discourse analysis
Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis , or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken, signed language use or any significant semiotic event....

, and the linkage of all of these to syntax.

Montague grammar


In the late 1960s, Richard Montague
Richard Montague
Richard Merett Montague was an American mathematician and philosopher.-Career:At the University of California, Berkeley, Montague earned an B.A. in Philosophy in 1950, an M.A. in Mathematics in 1953, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy 1957, the latter under the direction of the mathematician and logician...

 proposed a system for defining semantic entries in the lexicon in terms of the lambda calculus
Lambda calculus
In mathematical logic and computer science, lambda calculus, also written as λ-calculus, is a formal system for function definition, function application and recursion. The portion of lambda calculus relevant to computation is now called the untyped lambda calculus...

. In these terms, the syntactic parse
Parsing
In computer science and linguistics, parsing, or, more formally, syntactic analysis, is the process of analyzing a text, made of a sequence of tokens , to determine its grammatical structure with respect to a given formal grammar...

 of the sentence John ate every bagel would consist of a subject (John) and a predicate (ate every bagel); Montague showed that the meaning of the sentence as a whole could be decomposed into the meanings of its parts and relatively few rules of combination. The logical predicate thus obtained would be elaborated further, e.g. using truth theory models, which ultimately relate meanings to a set of Tarskiian universals, which may lie outside the logic. The notion of such meaning atoms or primitives is basic to the language of thought
Language of thought
In philosophy of mind, the language of thought hypothesis put forward by American philosopher Jerry Fodor describes thoughts as represented in a "language" that allows complex thoughts to be built up by combining simpler thoughts in various ways...

 hypothesis from the 1970s.

Despite its elegance, Montague grammar
Montague grammar
Montague grammar is an approach to natural language semantics, named after American logician Richard Montague. The Montague grammar is based on formal logic, especially higher order predicate logic and lambda calculus, and makes use of the notions of intensional logic, via Kripke models...

 was limited by the context-dependent variability in word sense, and led to several attempts at incorporating context, such as:
  • situation semantics
    Situation semantics
    Situation semantics, pioneered by Jon Barwise and John Perry in the early 1980s, attempts to provide a solid theoretical foundation for reasoning about common-sense and real world situations, typically in the context of theoretical linguistics, philosophy, or applied natural language...

     (1980s): truth-values are incomplete, they get assigned based on context
  • generative lexicon
    Generative Lexicon
    Generative Lexicon is a theory of linguistic semantics which focuseson the distributed nature ofcompositionality in natural language. The first major work outlining the framework is James Pustejovsky's "Generative Lexicon" . Subsequent important developments are presented in Pustejovsky and...

     (1990s): categories (types) are incomplete, and get assigned based on context

Dynamic turn in semantics



In Chomskian
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 linguistics there was no mechanism for the learning of semantic relations, and the nativist
Psychological nativism
In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are 'native' or hard wired into the brain at birth. This is in contrast to empiricism, the 'blank slate' or tabula rasa view, which states that the brain has inborn capabilities for learning from the environment but...

 view considered all semantic notions as inborn. Thus, even novel concepts were proposed to have been dormant in some sense. This view was also thought unable to address many issues such as metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 or associative meanings, and semantic change
Semantic change
Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

, where meanings within a linguistic community change over time, and qualia
Qualia
Qualia , singular "quale" , from a Latin word meaning for "what sort" or "what kind," is a term used in philosophy to refer to subjective conscious experiences as 'raw feels'. Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, the experience of taking a recreational drug, or the...

 or subjective experience. Another issue not addressed by the nativist model was how perceptual cues are combined in thought, e.g. in mental rotation
Mental rotation
Mental rotation is the ability to rotate mental representations of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects.-Introduction:Mental rotation is somewhat localized to the right cerebral hemisphere. It is thought to take place largely in the same areas as perception...

.

This view of semantics, as an innate finite meaning inherent in a lexical unit that can be composed to generate meanings for larger chunks of discourse, is now being fiercely debated in the emerging domain of cognitive linguistics
Cognitive linguistics
In linguistics, cognitive linguistics refers to the branch of linguistics that interprets language in terms of the concepts, sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue, which underlie its forms...


and also in the non-Fodorian
Jerry Fodor
Jerry Alan Fodor is an American philosopher and cognitive scientist. He holds the position of State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and is the author of many works in the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, in which he has laid the groundwork for the...

 camp in philosophy of Language
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language...

. name="Peregrin:2003">
The challenge is motivated by:
  • factors internal to language, such as the problem of resolving indexical or anaphora
    Anaphora (linguistics)
    In linguistics, anaphora is an instance of an expression referring to another. Usually, an anaphoric expression is represented by a pro-form or some other kind of deictic--for instance, a pronoun referring to its antecedent...

     (e.g. this x, him, last week). In these situations "context" serves as the input, but the interpreted utterance also modifies the context, so it is also the output. Thus, the interpretation is necessarily dynamic and the meaning of sentences is viewed as context change potential
    Context change potential
    In formal semantics, context change potential is the way new information reshapes existing understanding. It is a real feature of natural language observed, modeled and predicted by researchers...

    s instead of proposition
    Proposition
    In logic and philosophy, the term proposition refers to either the "content" or "meaning" of a meaningful declarative sentence or the pattern of symbols, marks, or sounds that make up a meaningful declarative sentence...

    s.
  • factors external to language, i.e. language is not a set of labels stuck on things, but "a toolbox, the importance of whose elements lie in the way they function rather than their attachments to things." This view reflects the position of the later Wittgenstein and his famous game example, and is related to the positions of Quine
    Willard Van Orman Quine
    Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition...

    , Davidson
    Donald Davidson (philosopher)
    Donald Herbert Davidson was an American philosopher born in Springfield, Massachusetts, who served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981 to 2003 after having also held teaching appointments at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton...

    , and others.


A concrete example of the latter phenomenon is semantic underspecification
Underspecification
In theoretical linguistics, underspecification is a phenomenon in which certain features are omitted in underlying representations. Restricted underspecification theory holds that features should only be underspecified if their values are predictable. For example, in English, all front vowels are...

 – meanings are not complete without some elements of context. To take an example of a single word, "red", its meaning in a phrase such as red book is similar to many other usages, and can be viewed as compositional. However, the colours implied in phrases such as "red wine" (very dark), and "red hair" (coppery), or "red soil", or "red skin" are very different. Indeed, these colours by themselves would not be called "red" by native speakers. These instances are contrastive, so "red wine" is so called only in comparison with the other kind of wine (which also is not "white" for the same reasons). This view goes back to de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

:
and may go back to earlier Indian views on language, especially the Nyaya
Nyaya
' is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic...

 view of words as indicators and not carriers of meaning.

An attempt to defend a system based on propositional meaning for semantic underspecification can be found in the Generative Lexicon
Generative Lexicon
Generative Lexicon is a theory of linguistic semantics which focuseson the distributed nature ofcompositionality in natural language. The first major work outlining the framework is James Pustejovsky's "Generative Lexicon" . Subsequent important developments are presented in Pustejovsky and...

 model of James Pustejovsky
James Pustejovsky
James Pustejovsky is a TJX Feldberg professor of computer science at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His expertises are on Theoretical and computational modeling of language, specifically: Computational linguistics, Lexical semantics, Knowledge representation, temporal reasoning...

, who extends contextual operations (based on type shifting) into the lexicon. Thus meanings are generated on the fly based on finite context.

Prototype theory


Another set of concepts related to fuzziness in semantics is based on
prototypes
Prototype Theory
Prototype theory is a mode of graded categorization in cognitive science, where some members of a category are more central than others. For example, when asked to give an example of the concept furniture, chair is more frequently...

. The work of Eleanor Rosch
Eleanor Rosch
Eleanor Rosch is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in cognitive psychology and primarily known for her work on categorization, in particular her prototype theory, which has profoundly influenced the field of cognitive psychology...


in the 1970s led to a view that
natural categories are not characterizable in terms of
necessary and sufficient
conditions, but are graded (fuzzy at their boundaries) and inconsistent as to
the status of their constituent members.

Systems of categories are not objectively "out there" in the world but are
rooted in people's experience. These categories evolve as learned
Learning theory (education)
In psychology and education, learning is commonly defined as a process that brings together cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one's knowledge, skills, values, and world views . Learning as a process focuses on what...

 concepts
of the world – meaning is not an objective truth, but a
subjective construct, learned from experience, and language arises
out of the "grounding of our
conceptual systems in shared embodiment and bodily experience".
A corollary of this is that the conceptual categories
(i.e. the lexicon) will not be identical for
different cultures, or indeed, for every individual in the same culture. This
leads to another debate (see the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis
Linguistic relativity
The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view...

 or Eskimo words for snow
Eskimo words for snow
The "Eskimo words for snow" claim is a widespread misconception alleging that Eskimos have an unusually large number of words for snow. In fact, the Eskimo–Aleut languages have about the same number of distinct word roots referring to snow as English does...

).

Model theoretic semantics



Originates from Montague's work (see above). A highly formalized theory of natural language semantics in which expressions are assigned denotations (meanings) such as individuals, truth values, or functions from one of these to another. The truth of a sentence, and more interestingly, its logical relation to other sentences, is then evaluated relative to a model.

Formal (of truth-conditional) semantics



Pioneered by the philosopher Donald Davidson
Donald Davidson (philosopher)
Donald Herbert Davidson was an American philosopher born in Springfield, Massachusetts, who served as Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley from 1981 to 2003 after having also held teaching appointments at Stanford University, Rockefeller University, Princeton...

, another formalized theory, which aims to associate each natural language sentence with a meta-language description of the conditions under which it is true, for example: `Snow is white' is true if and only if snow is white. The challenge is to arrive at the truth conditions for any sentences from fixed meanings assigned to the individual words and fixed rules for how to combine them. In practice, truth-conditional semantics is similar to model-theoretic semantics; conceptually, however, they differ in that truth-conditional semantics seeks to connect language with statements about the real world (in the form of meta-language statements), rather than with abstract models.

Lexical & conceptual semantics



This theory is an effort to explain properties of argument structure. The assumption behind this theory is that syntactic properties of phrases reflect the meanings of the words that head them. With this theory, linguists can better deal with the fact that subtle differences in word meaning correlate with other differences in the syntactic structure that the word appears in. The way this is gone about is by looking at the internal structure of words. These small parts that make up the internal structure of words are referred to as semantic primitives.

Lexical semantics



A linguistic theory that investigates word meaning. This theory understands that the meaning of a word is fully reflected by its context. Here, the meaning of a word is constituted by its contextual relations. Therefore, a distinction between degrees of participation as well as modes of participation are made. In order to accomplish this distinction any part of a sentence that bears a meaning and combines with the meanings of other constituents is labeled as a semantic constituent. Semantic constituents that cannot be broken down into more elementary constituents are labeled minimal semantic constituents.

Computational semantics



Computational semantics is focused on the processing of linguistic meaning. In order to do this concrete algorithms and architectures are described. Within this framework the algorithms and architectures are also analyzed in terms of decidability, time/space complexity, data structures which they require and communication protocols.

Computer science


In computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, the term semantics refers to the meaning of languages, as opposed to their form (syntax). According to Euzenat, semantics "provides the rules for interpreting the syntax which do not provide the meaning directly but constrains the possible interpretations of what is declared." In other words, semantics is about interpretation of an expression. Additionally, the term is applied to certain types of data structures specifically designed and used for representing information content.

Programming languages



The semantics of programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....

s and other languages is an important issue and area of study in computer science. Like the syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 of a language, its semantics can be defined exactly.

For instance, the following statements use different syntaxes, but cause the same instructions to be executed:
x += y (C
C (programming language)
C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system....

, C++, C#, Java
Java (programming language)
Java is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities...

, Perl
Perl
Perl is a high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming language. Perl was originally developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a general-purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions and become widely popular...

, Python
Python (programming language)
Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language whose design philosophy emphasizes code readability. Python claims to "[combine] remarkable power with very clear syntax", and its standard library is large and comprehensive...

, Ruby
Ruby (programming language)
Ruby is a dynamic, reflective, general-purpose object-oriented programming language that combines syntax inspired by Perl with Smalltalk-like features. Ruby originated in Japan during the mid-1990s and was first developed and designed by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto...

, PHP
PHP
PHP is a general-purpose server-side scripting language originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages. For this purpose, PHP code is embedded into the HTML source document and interpreted by a web server with a PHP processor module, which generates the web page document...

, etc.)
x := x + y (Algol, BCPL
BCPL
BCPL is a procedural, imperative, and structured computer programming language designed by Martin Richards of the University of Cambridge in 1966.- Design :...

, Simula
Simula
Simula is a name for two programming languages, Simula I and Simula 67, developed in the 1960s at the Norwegian Computing Center in Oslo, by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard...

, Algol68, SETL
SETL
SETL is a very-high level programming language based on the mathematical theory of sets. It was originally developed by Jack Schwartz at the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences in the late 1960s....

, Pascal
Pascal (programming language)
Pascal is an influential imperative and procedural programming language, designed in 1968/9 and published in 1970 by Niklaus Wirth as a small and efficient language intended to encourage good programming practices using structured programming and data structuring.A derivative known as Object Pascal...

, Smalltalk
Smalltalk
Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed, reflective programming language. Smalltalk was created as the language to underpin the "new world" of computing exemplified by "human–computer symbiosis." It was designed and created in part for educational use, more so for constructionist...

, Modula-2
Modula-2
Modula-2 is a computer programming language designed and developed between 1977 and 1980 by Niklaus Wirth at ETH Zurich as a revision of Pascal to serve as the sole programming language for the operating system and application software for the personal workstation Lilith...

, Ada
Ada (programming language)
Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages...

, Standard ML
Standard ML
Standard ML is a general-purpose, modular, functional programming language with compile-time type checking and type inference. It is popular among compiler writers and programming language researchers, as well as in the development of theorem provers.SML is a modern descendant of the ML...

, Objective Caml
Objective Caml
OCaml , originally known as Objective Caml, is the main implementation of the Caml programming language, created by Xavier Leroy, Jérôme Vouillon, Damien Doligez, Didier Rémy and others in 1996...

, Eiffel
Eiffel (programming language)
Eiffel is an ISO-standardized, object-oriented programming language designed by Bertrand Meyer and Eiffel Software. The design of the language is closely connected with the Eiffel programming method...

, Delphi, Oberon
Oberon (programming language)
Oberon is a programming language created in 1986 by Professor Niklaus Wirth and his associates at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. It was developed as part of the implementation of the Oberon operating system...

, Dylan
Dylan
Dylan is a Welsh boy's name common in America . It may refer to:* Dylan , people named Dylan* Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet* Dylan , a language with Lisp-like semantics and ALGOL-like syntax* Dylan Ail Don, a sea-god in Celtic mythology...

, VHDL, etc.)
ADD x, y (Intel 8086
Intel 8086
The 8086 is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and mid-1978, when it was released. The 8086 gave rise to the x86 architecture of Intel's future processors...

 Assembly Language
Assembly language
An assembly language is a low-level programming language for computers, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and other programmable devices. It implements a symbolic representation of the machine codes and other constants needed to program a given CPU architecture...

)
LET X = X + Y   (early BASIC
BASIC
BASIC is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use - the name is an acronym from Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code....

)
x = x + y (most BASIC dialects, Fortran
Fortran
Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing...

)
ADD Y TO X GIVING X (COBOL
COBOL
COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments....

)
(incf x y) (Common Lisp
Common Lisp
Common Lisp, commonly abbreviated CL, is a dialect of the Lisp programming language, published in ANSI standard document ANSI INCITS 226-1994 , . From the ANSI Common Lisp standard the Common Lisp HyperSpec has been derived for use with web browsers...

)


Generally these operations would all perform an arithmetical addition of 'y' to 'x' and store the result in a variable called 'x'.

Various ways have been developed to describe the semantics of programming languages formally
Formal semantics of programming languages
In programming language theory, semantics is the field concerned with the rigorous mathematical study of the meaning of programming languages and models of computation...

, building on mathematical logic
Mathematical logic
Mathematical logic is a subfield of mathematics with close connections to foundations of mathematics, theoretical computer science and philosophical logic. The field includes both the mathematical study of logic and the applications of formal logic to other areas of mathematics...

:
  • Operational semantics
    Operational semantics
    In computer science, operational semantics is a way to give meaning to computer programs in a mathematically rigorous way. Operational semantics are classified into two categories: structural operational semantics formally describe how the individual steps of a computation take place in a...

    : The meaning of a construct is specified by the computation it induces when it is executed on a machine. In particular, it is of interest how the effect of a computation is produced.
  • Denotational semantics
    Denotational semantics
    In computer science, denotational semantics is an approach to formalizing the meanings of programming languages by constructing mathematical objects which describe the meanings of expressions from the languages...

    : Meanings are modelled by mathematical objects that represent the effect of executing the constructs. Thus only the effect is of interest, not how it is obtained.
  • Axiomatic semantics
    Axiomatic semantics
    Axiomatic semantics is an approach based on mathematical logic to proving the correctness of computer programs. It is closely related to Hoare logic....

    : Specific properties of the effect of executing the constructs are expressed as assertions. Thus there may be aspects of the executions that are ignored.

Semantic models


Terms such as "semantic network
Semantic network
A semantic network is a network which represents semantic relations among concepts. This is often used as a form of knowledge representation. It is a directed or undirected graph consisting of vertices, which represent concepts, and edges.- History :...

" and "semantic data model
Semantic data model
A semantic data model in software engineering has various meanings:# It is a conceptual data model in which semantic information is included. This means that the model describes the meaning of its instances...

" are used to describe particular types of data models characterized by the use of directed graph
Directed graph
A directed graph or digraph is a pair G= of:* a set V, whose elements are called vertices or nodes,...

s in which the vertices denote concepts or entities in the world, and the arcs denote relationships between them.

The Semantic Web
Semantic Web
The Semantic Web is a collaborative movement led by the World Wide Web Consortium that promotes common formats for data on the World Wide Web. By encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages, the Semantic Web aims at converting the current web of unstructured documents into a "web of...

 refers to the extension of the World Wide Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 through the embedding of additional semantic metadata
Metadata
The term metadata is an ambiguous term which is used for two fundamentally different concepts . Although the expression "data about data" is often used, it does not apply to both in the same way. Structural metadata, the design and specification of data structures, cannot be about data, because at...

, using semantic data modelling techniques such as RDF
Resource Description Framework
The Resource Description Framework is a family of World Wide Web Consortium specifications originally designed as a metadata data model...

 and OWL
Web Ontology Language
The Web Ontology Language is a family of knowledge representation languages for authoring ontologies.The languages are characterised by formal semantics and RDF/XML-based serializations for the Semantic Web...

.

Psychology


In psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, semantic memory
Semantic memory
Semantic memory refers to the memory of meanings, understandings, and other concept-based knowledge unrelated to specific experiences. The conscious recollection of factual information and general knowledge about the world is generally thought to be independent of context and personal relevance...

is memory for meaning – in other words, the aspect of memory that preserves only the gist, the general significance, of remembered experience – while episodic memory
Episodic memory
Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events that can be explicitly stated. Semantic and episodic memory together make up the category of declarative memory, which is one of the two major divisions in memory...

 is memory for the ephemeral details – the individual features, or the unique particulars of experience. Word meaning is measured by the company they keep, i.e. the relationships among words themselves in a semantic network
Semantic network
A semantic network is a network which represents semantic relations among concepts. This is often used as a form of knowledge representation. It is a directed or undirected graph consisting of vertices, which represent concepts, and edges.- History :...

. The memories may be transferred intergenerationally or isolated in a single generation due to a cultural disruption. Different generations may have different experiences at similar points in their own time-lines. This may then create a vertically heterogeneous semantic net for certain words in an otherwise homogeneous culture. In a network created by people analyzing their understanding of the word (such as Wordnet
WordNet
WordNet is a lexical database for the English language. It groups English words into sets of synonyms called synsets, provides short, general definitions, and records the various semantic relations between these synonym sets...

) the links and decomposition structures of the network are few in number and kind, and include "part of", "kind of", and similar links. In automated ontologies the links are computed vectors without explicit meaning. Various automated technologies are being developed to compute the meaning of words: latent semantic indexing
Latent semantic indexing
Latent Semantic Indexing is an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called Singular value decomposition to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text. LSI is based on the principle that words...

 and support vector machines as well as natural language processing
Natural language processing
Natural language processing is a field of computer science and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human languages; it began as a branch of artificial intelligence....

, neural networks
Neural Networks
Neural Networks is the official journal of the three oldest societies dedicated to research in neural networks: International Neural Network Society, European Neural Network Society and Japanese Neural Network Society, published by Elsevier...

 and predicate calculus techniques.

Linguistics and semiotics



Logic and mathematics



Computer science



External links