Semantics & Pragmatics

Wednesday's Word of Encouragement

SEMANTICS

noun

se·​man·​tics

| \ si-ˈman-tiks \

1: the study of meanings:


PRAGMATICS

noun

prag·​mat·​ics

| \ prag-ˈma-tiks \

2: a branch of linguistics that is concerned with the relationship of sentences to the environment in which they occur


Context is influential in communication. Recently, our family went on vacation to Destin, FL. We had a great time playing on the beach, however since it was winter time the water was much colder than in the summer months. This did not stop my husband, kids, and eventually my seventy-two year old father from boogie-board surfing in the emerald waves. At first my son exclaimed, “The water is freezing cold!”. After this outburst he still continued to jump and splash in the breaking whitecaps. Once it was time to dry off - as he shivered under his towel - the words, “I can’t feel my hands.” stuttered out of his mouth. That day the water was not freezing and my son could feel his hands (semantics), but in context (pragmatics), we all understood his exaggerated expressions.


When we encourage others context is valuable. If we tell someone that they are “Awesome!” that is encouraging - because we are describing them as God sees them, (in a Biblical context). But most of the time people equate - awesome - to a majestic landmark - so calling someone a giant mountain may not encourage the way we intend. But if we give context to that same word using what I like to call being


- Creatively Specific


As an example, “Sally you are awesome! You always clean the bathroom with excellence by restocking, wiping down everything until it sparkles, and spraying air freshener. You go above and beyond what is expected!”

Encouragement that is given in context, or Creatively Specific, paints a picture of a behavior that can be repeated. When we are Creatively Specific we can bENCOURAGEd Today, so that we can encourage others!


*https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/semantics

*https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pragmatics