What is Semantics?

In general, semantics is defined as “the study of the linguistic meaning of morphemes, words, phrases, and sentences” (Fromkin/Hyams/Rodman 2003, 173). One of its special fields, lexical semantics, deals with the meaning of words and “the meaning relationships among words” (586) harbouring the study of synonyms or antonyms for instance. Semantics and pragmatics are closely connected. Therefore, it is important to stress that semantics only focuses on the abstract, linguistic meaning irrespective of the speaker, time and place, whereas pragmatics examines “how context affects meaning” (173). With regard to the speaker it is ultimately the mental dictionary, called lexicon, that stores the individual knowledge about words and morphemes (cf. 174).