Semantics….

The study or science of meaning in language.    The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent.   Also called semasiologyThe meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form:

We’re basically agreed; let’s not quibble over semantics.

How many times have you heard or said that exact phrase?  Why do we “quibble” over the use of the English Language, especially if we are understanding the basic message being told?  Isn’t that why we use language to begin with…to communicate…to understand each other?  And so, if we are understanding each other, why do we let semantics, the small details,  interfere and get in the way ? . Understanding and interpreting words and messages that we receive should be easy, right?  …but is it? 

Words evoke picture in our minds.  Like a chair…I think I can safely say that a chair typically has four legs a back and a flat area for sitting…simple.  However… Take for example the word …camping.  To me …camping evokes images of  a tent, a bathroom that consists of a hole in the ground, a bonfire, a sleeping bag and simple meals cooked over a fire or campstove….to others it involves an R.V., a kitchen, a bathroom, running water, air conditioning and meat and potato dinners….to still others , camping involves a cabin and all that goes with it.   So if someone were to say they went camping…just that one small word can evoke a variety of interpretations… a variety of images and details  in our minds… depending upon our  experiences. 

semantics… so if I say …green…I would put money on it that you immediately saw the color green in your mind.  And if I were to lay out different green paint chips…and asked you to quickly take the one you envisioned…you could easily pick out the one that represented your green. Let’s think about it … was that color a light or dark  green? Was it hunter or lime green?  Was it a primary color or a more muted color?     Who of us has  the correct color?  In this situation, Is there really a CORRECT color?  How would we ever know?  But it is when one person says…I have the real green..no, no, I have the real true green…it is then …that it is all about semantics…and really not worth quibbling over .

To.may.to…..to.ma.to                  po.tay.to….. po.ta.to                green…..green           camping…..camping

So, when a person  communicates, using multiple words and sentences , the chance for miscommunication is surely to occur. That makes me wonder….does that mean that…. the more one communicates, in the written or oral form,  the more chance   that  misinterpretation may occur??? 

A fish or a rock...semantics

 So why do we insist on getting caught up on the little things…rather than the larger meaning of what a person has to say?  Does it really matter whether  your last house was white or gray??? or whether it was 10 or 12 degrees out today?? or whether the tree was an oak or ash?  Details, details are the problem…the semantics that make us knock heads at times when those details are not important to the message.

Do you quibble over semantics??  Do you miss the larger  message because you are way too concerned with the little details? Have you ever listened to a couple telling a story when all of a sudden one of them say…no no..it was on Wednesday not Tuesday? The the other says, but I remember _____ and it happened on a Tuesday!!!!  But no…I am sure it was on Wednesday….and By the time they finally return to the story, you can’t even  remember what it was all about. How important was that detail to the listener??  How important was it to the teller??  and in the end….who really cares????  Unless of course it is a contest of details and who remembers more???? 

I think we quibble over semantics more than we really know.  There should be some kind of semanitics code word….like bubble….that when it is said and we hear it …would be a kind of alert…reminding us to immediatly stop talking …drop the details and move on…and use your language for something more constructive…to communicate!!!!

Whew !!  Now that I have that off my chest….I will go and watch a bit of the Olympics.  And again today more gold for the Canadians…go Canadian !!!      oh sorry, got a little carried away there…… But before I leave, slippers…..and wouldn’t you know, my favorite kind…turtles.

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