• Thursday July 9,2020


We explain to you what is the semantics and the components with which it assigns the meanings. In addition, what is a semantic family and examples.

Semantics studies the meaning of words.
  1. What is the semantics?

It is called a semantic branch of linguistics dedicated to the study of meaning. Its name comes from the Greek term s mant ik s ( significant meaning ) and together with phonetics, grammar and morphosyntax, it constitutes one of the main approaches to the organized study of verbal language.

The semantics face the linguistic sign from the interest for its immaterial part, that is, its mental, conventional and abstract part: the meaning. This means that you are interested not only in the way in which the meanings of words are formed from their components (their roots and aggregates), but also in the way in which the meanings change to over time and others become, changing along with the culture that uses the language.

In addition, the semantics deals with accidents of meaning, such as synonymy, antonymy, polysemy and lexical-semantic families, as long as the study does not leave the place of the eminently verbal, since other disciplines, such as pragmatics, deal with the nonverbal areas of communication.

The minimum unit of semantics is the semes : the smallest portions of the word endowed with verifiable proper meaning. The same word, like that, contains different semes that relate it to others.

It can serve you: Language functions.

  1. Meaning Components

Commonly, the semantics include two components or ways of assigning meaning, which are:

  • Denotation The meaning standard appear the most meaningful meaning mean.
  • Connotation Those secondary senses that are attributed to a term and that do not have to do directly with the stated referent, but with certain characteristics attributed to it by a certain culture.

An example of this last is the word arp a, whose denotative meaning is that of some mythological animals of ancient Greece, which attracted their singing to the Sailors and after making them shipwreck against the rocks, they proceeded to devour them.

The denotative meaning of "harpy", on the other hand, is transmitted by imaginary association to women who consider themselves evil, cruel, unbearable or treacherous.

  1. Semantic families

A semantic family is a set of words that share a common sema.

In the language, relations of association, similarity, comparison or of various kinds arise between meanings: mental images of the things that make up reality. Many times, this relationship also has a related component between different meanings that allows them to be organized like a tree: a semantic family.

It can be said, then, that a semantic family is a set of words that share a common sema. This usually occurs between words that share their grammatical category (word type), for example:

  • Tree: shrub, leaves, roots, flowers, fruits, wood, branches ...
  • Book: sheets, cover, library, bookstore, reading, literature ...
  • Sport: athletics, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball ...
  • Bread: bakery, sandwich, wheat, oven ...
  1. Semantics Examples

Some examples of connotation and denotation of meanings are:

  • That car is painted black (denotation: color)

That man's intentions seem to be black (connotation: evil, murky, secret)

  • He had an open heart operation (denotation: the organ)

He told me that his girlfriend had broken his heart (connotation: feelings)

  • The plane is flying over Edinburgh (denotation: the real action)

I will fly to the supermarket to see if I arrive before it closes (connotation: go fast)

  • I left the exam sheet blank (denotation: unwritten)

My cousin wants to marry in white (connotation: correctly, formally, traditionally)

  • Yesterday we adopted a dog (denotation: the animal)

That man is a dog (connotation: unfaithful, promiscuous, abusive)

  • I will lift the pencil from the ground (denotation: take from the ground)

I want to get up to Ezekiel's cousin (connotation: fall in love, conquer)

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