Re: Pragmatic/Semantic

From: Rod Decker (
Date: Tue Mar 17 1998 - 13:39:56 EST

>The aspect theory people throw around the terms semantic and pragmatic in a
>manner that leaves my head spinning. I am hopelessly out of date since my
>study of semantics predated the flowering of the aspect theory debate.
>Could one of you who have studied this help me understand how these two terms
>are currently being used. Please keep in mind I don't know all the current
>linguistics terminology so the definitions have to be in plain language.

Fair request. I can do no better in reply to cite one of our distinguished
collegues from a b-greek post last summer. (I cited Mari in the
dissertation as the best concise statement of this difference, so I'll
simply paste it in here.)

>M. Olsen provides one of the best, concise distinctions between semantics
>and pragmatics: "Semantics is the 'uncancelable' meaning of a word/
>sentence/grammtical form, the meaning it must have, in each context of
>use.... Pragmatics ... refers to the aspects of meaning that are cancelable
>(without contradiction) and reinforceable (without redundancy), credit
>Grice. These aspects of meaning depend on context interacting with the
>semantics" (B-Greek post, 5 August 97, s.v., "semantics vs. pragmatics"
><>; she develops
>this distinction more fully in her dissertation: "Model," 21-29). See also
>B. Comrie, Tense, CTL, 23.

[The ref. to Mari's diss. is pp. 17-22 in the published book form (for
those of you who may have it).]


 Rodney J. Decker Baptist Bible Seminary
 Asst. Prof./NT P O Box 800 Clarks Summit PA 18411

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