Structure and Meaning

IdeolinguistStructure and Meaning

An Analysis of Meaning Formation in Relationship with Syntax and Semantics

By Zainurrahman

Syntax and Semantics are conceptualized already, as level or part in the linguistics. The basic definition of syntax is the organization of words in sentence. Words are organized by considering the order and relationship among them to make a meaningful sentence. The order or organization of a sentence that consists of words or phrases (as the elements) will build a system. The system correlates one word to other word, one meaning to other meaning and then they become a single comprehensive meaning. However, the most important case in the syntax is that the organization has particular structure that determines the meaning. Therefore, it can be assumed that the meaning of a sentence is heavily determined by the structure, in other word, syntax question is “what do you want to say?” or “how to say it?.” Basically, Semantics is defined as a study of the meaning of language. It studies how a meaning of language is created by the use of the interrelationship of words, phrases and sentences. Every word in a sentence has their own meaning (literal meaning or contextual meaning), however, meaning of a sentence that may be organized by employing more than five words is understood as a single comprehensive meaning. It is heavily depended on the emphasized point of the communicator; if the speaker wants to tell his friend that their friend (Simon) has stolen the speaker’s bicycle and at the same time the sentence emphasized point is Simon (because Simon is basically a good boy). The sentence may be “Oh my God, Simon Stole my bicycle…” there are seven words in this sentence, but the main meaning depends on the speaker’s idea. Here, the emphasized point is “Simon Stole” because what they know that Simon is a good boy. If the speaker wants to inform that his expensive bicycle has been stolen, the sentence may be the same but the emphasized point will be different, “my bicycle” or “my expensive bicycle.” The question of semantics is that “what is the sentence meaning?”; the meaning analysis is heavily influenced by the structure. In other words, it can be assumed that meaning of a sentence is determined by the structure of the sentence. One question is, does meaning determine the sentence structure? Or does the structure determine the meaning? One sin of linguistics is that they analyze the meaning or language separated from idea. Every people who use different point of view (semantics or syntax) who is analyzing a sentence meaning will have different assumption; and that is not good. One sentence, should have one single comprehensive meaning. Ideolinguistics will give you the answer…

Meaning Construction and Reconstruction of Meaning

Communication is not only the information exchanging process, it also about sharing idea, responding idea and a very vital one constructing meaning. Constructing meaning is processed before an information is communicated and reconstructing meaning is processed before information or idea is responded. Here, we will use the term “sender” refer to “speaker or writer” and the term “addressee” refer to “hearer and reader”. It is important to involve the sender and addressee as the communicator in this discourse, because syntax and semantics analysis should not be separated from those communicators. Here we go. As mentioned above, Syntax is the organization of words in sentence. Meanwhile, sentence itself is defined as a group of word or a single word that expresses a complete thought, feeling or idea. It means that sentence is used by the sentence-maker to express his or her thought, feeling or idea. Therefore, syntax can be understood as the tool used by the sentence-maker to make a meaningful sentence. In other words, sentence-maker or sender uses syntax to construct meaning; meaning is constructed by the sender. Remember that I am explaining “meaning construction” in a very limited context, I am not involving pragmatics or Ideolinguistics too far here. When a sender want to express his idea (especially a complex idea) he should arrange or organize words in a clear order. It is not the case that the sender must use a correct order grammatically, as far as understandable, the sender is success. How to organize words in a clear order is clearly explained in Syntax discourse. The failure of the sender in ordering and organizing words makes the failure of the addressee to understand the sentence. Some smarter addressees can recognize the meaning of the disordered-words organization, but most of the misunderstandings are occurred caused by the disordered-word organization; especially in the case of written language. The most possible reason of why I stated that meaning construction belongs to the sender is elaborated in the following example: The sentence “I will give you an apple” consists of six different words and each word have their own meaning independently. Those words are the elements of sentence and the meaning is called “elemental meaning”. The sentence-maker constructs the single comprehensive meaning by ordering those words become a sentence. There, the meaning construction takes place. There is a movement from elemental meaning to the single comprehensive meaning when the sender organize those words. The meaning is the information or the sender’s idea. The meaning is packed in the sentence by the sender and the addressee will unpack it. It is not only unpacked, but it is also reconstructed. The addressee plays important role to reconstruct the meaning packed by the sender based on the addressee’s linguistics scheme.

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