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Hi and welcome to this fourth module
of our course on the miracles of human language. So far, in the previous modules, we have
concentrated on the form of language. But it's undeniable that there's at least
one further dimension to any linguistic utterance, meaning, and that's what we're
going to talk about in this module. If you just produce a number of sounds
in a row or you put some words in some order, you still don't have
a real human language sentence. All these kinds of utterances
are only sentences of human language if you can assign meaning to them. Now, the problem is, what is meaning? This is a philosophical problem. And philosophers have
argued about this for ages. What's meaning? Is it the relation of
the sentence to the world? Is it an expression of a thought,
what is meaning? Philosophers argue about it, I don't know. I will not go into that debate therefore,
and I will just assume that sentences do
have something like a meaning and we're going to study what
that means linguistically. In linguistics, we generally distinguish between
two types or two levels of meaning. There's semantic meaning on the one hand,
and pragmatic meaning on the other. Semantic meaning is something which
is very close to what you would ordinarily call literal meaning. If I say a sentence like, I have no money. The semantic meaning of that sentence is
some claim about this person here and his financial state. You can try to test whether
my claim is true or false, you can look in my pockets and see whether
indeed I do have any money or I don't. It's usually thought that truth and
falsehood are central aspects of the meaning, at least, of declarative
sentences, like the one I just said. It may be easier to understand this
if we contrast this with the other level of meaning, pragmatic meaning. The pragmatic meaning of
a sentence corresponds, more or less, to what you want to
achieve with the sentence. In other words, it's an answer to the
question, why does the speaker say this? When I say I have no money,
I can say that for various reasons. One reason might be that I want to inform
you about my present financial situation. Another reason might be, because I
basically want to give you an order, to give me money. Or a third reason is, I want to apologize,
I want to apologize that I look so shabby, that's just
because I have no money. Or it can be many other reasons. So while you can understand the semantic
meaning of a sentence or a word, without referring to the context, you can
just take the sentence, take the word and look at its semantic meaning,
that's not true for the pragmatic meaning. For pragmatic meaning,
you always need to know the context. And it typically involves an I and a you. I want to inform you. I want to request something of you. I want to apologize to you. So, interestingly, just like sentences
can have two layers of form, on the one hand, there's the sounds,
the phonology and the phonetics. On the other hand, there's the words and
sentences, the morphology and syntax. They can also have two layers of meaning,
semantics and pragmatics. Now outside of linguistic textbooks there are basically no
sentences without pragmatics. Even if I make some pure and
precise observation about the real world, just by saying it aloud, I will make
some effect on you as the listener. And probably I also have
that as my intention. So, if I tell you, 1 plus 1 equals 2. I will, for instance, do so because I
want you to notice particular facts. Or because I want to point out to you that in some very complicated way that
I think that you are really stupid because you do not know such
a simple thing as 1 plus 1 equals 2. So whenever somebody says a sentence, there's always an implicit I in the
sentence, even if it's not made explicit, and there's always an implicit you. It's always I telling something to you. Inversely, human utterances maybe can have
pragmatics without having a meaning. Without having a semantic meaning. For instance, if I start uttering
some random grunt like aah! That doesn't really seem to have
a semantic meaning, it's not true or false for instance. There is no literal
meaning attached to aah! But there is a pragmatic meaning. It does mean something if I
start doing something like this. It may mean that I'm really upset and
I want to change something about that. These two layers of meaning,
semantic and pragmatic meaning, are the topic of this module. In the next video,
we'll talk about semantics. To be precise, we will talk about
the semantics of color terms. And then after that we will go into the question how we
can change the world with our words.

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