The Distinction between Semantics and Pragmatics

Zoltán Gendler Szabó

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Distinction between Semantics and Pragmatics


Semantics is the study of linguistic meaning, or more precisely, the study of the relation between linguistic expressions and their meanings. This article gives a sketch of the distinction between semantics and pragmatics; it is the intention of the rest of this article to make it more precise. It starts by considering three alternative characterizations and explain what the article finds problematic about each of them. This leads to the discussion of utterance interpretation, which situates semantics and pragmatics in a larger enterprise. But the characterization of their contrast remains sketchy until the final section, where the article discusses how truth-conditions and the notion of what is said fit into the picture.

Keywords: semantics; pragmatics; linguistic expressions; meanings; utterance interpretation; truth-condition

Article.  15671 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language

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