Semantic Theory: The Concept Of Reference Within Semantics

The concept of reference within semantics is described as when ‘…speakers indicate which things in the world are being talked about’ (Hurford et al: 2007). In semantics, reference is important as it examines language through the meaning we attach words. Notions such as variable and constant reference are especially important. Other notions that are taken into account are opaque context and equative sentences. When speakers indicate what they are talking about through different expressions this information becomes important, as it becomes part of your wider knowledge of language. Finally, Ogden and Richards (1965) described the relationship between concept and object as ‘reference’; this is the most fitting description.
Moreover, Semantic theory studies the meaning of language. Finnegan (1994) argued that one purpose of semantics is to differentiate between the different ways in which language ‘means’. There are many different types of referents: abstract, non-abstract, specific, non-specific, definite and non-definite. However, reference it is best described as ‘...the way speakers and hearers use
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is Spiderman in ‘Spiderman’ the context is opaque because a) and b) can be referring to two different people. Hence, the term opaque is used because the context is being blocked (Hurford et al 2007: 57). Hurford et al (2007) argued that opaque context seems to include verbs such as want, believe, think and wander about. Another example of opaque context is the in following sentence Sam believes that.... shot the man. This is a strong example of opaque context because the referent is not clear so it cannot be interpreted as a referring expression. This type of referent is described as specific because Sam is obviously a specific person and the man is known to the speaker as he is described only as the man, the larger context of the expression marks it as specific not the expression

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