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Sentence meaning is different from speaker’s meaning

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Sentence meaning is different from speaker’s meaning

  1. 1. Sentence meaning is different from speaker’s meaning Sentence is a set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses. Thompson (2004) describes the experiential functions of language as: “We use language to talk about our experience of the world, including the worlds in our own minds, to describe events and states and the entities involved in them.” (ibid: 30) Sentence meaning is what a sentence means. There is often a divergence between the meaning of the linguistic expression a speaker uses and the meaning he intends to communicate by using it. What hearers are interested in is what the speaker means, and that leads him to ignore the fact that the speaker's words mean something. There are some examples from newspapers headlines in which sentence meaning is different from speaker’s meaning. 1) “Terry Smith collapsed face-down in a pool of his own vomit.” (Los Angeles Times) In this headline we see that sentence meaning gives an idea that Terry smith is fell down in a pool by slipping from his own vomit. But on the other hand speaker meaning is that Terry Smith got died because his lungs are slowly filled with fluid due to excessive use of wine. Six people died of drug overdoses within a span of 18 months. 2) “Repositioning Pakistan.” Shahid Javed Burki (DAWN NEWS) From sentence meaning we get meaning that Pakistan is moving back or relocating its previous position but the speaker Shahid Javed Burki who is the caretaker finance minister and served as vice-president of World-Bank means that changes in the international levels such as conflict
  2. 2. between America and China, Pakistan is taking loan from FBI as well as taking many initiative of development with China how country like Pakistan is a factor in these big changes in international affairs? 3) “Government to drop ‘White Bomb’ in the next budget.” (Tribune) In this headline speaker meaning is that milk consumers will face a brunt of change in dairy tax structure. They will have to pay 280 billion extra amount of money. 4) Pakistani victory. Huge losses on both sides. (The Australian Sep 11,1965) When we analyze this sentence as a sentence meaning first we came to know that Pakistan got victory but in the second sentence of headline we came to know that both countries got defeated. On the other hand when we analyze through speaker meaning we came to know that ‘losses’ means the loss of lives of many people in the battle. 5) “The cup comes to Pakistan.” (DAWN 1992) Speaker meaning is that the cricket world cup is won by Pakistan so this time World-Cup will be awarded to Pakistan. 6) “woman falls in hospital, told to call ambulance.” (Laura Stone and Theresa Boyle) 82 years old Wallace, who was leaving with her son after visiting her dying husband at greater Niagara General Hospital on Oct 8 was told by staff no one could help her until an ambulance was called. Speech Acts:
  3. 3. An utterance considered as an action, particularly with regard to its intention, purpose, or effect. A speech act is an utterance that serves a function in communication. We perform speech acts when we offer an apology, greeting, request, complaint, invitation, compliment, or refusal. Headlines example: 1) Is messenger of death, dead? (New York Times) It is news about Baitullah commander of Taliban. United States says that he is died in an attack but Taliban deny it. That is why speaker is asking a question and calling Baitullah messenger of death. 2) Out of 40 women in the Senate, only 2 were female: Rose Anne, who became the first woman elected to the Senate in 1976, and Diani Watson, elected in 1978.” This headline is informative. It tells us about two of the above mentioned women were also elected in previous election of Senate. 3) “Is cultural heritage a priority?” (The News, Sunday 31 May 2015) Question is being ask in this headline. 4) “Paradise regained? (The News, Sunday 31 May 2015) The headline is about Kashmir. Question is being posed for readers. 5) “Immigrates claims fortune.” (Trans Alpine Yodel, Monday, 17 Feb 1936)
  4. 4. The headline gives us the information that after a battle migrated people wants help from government. Semantics vs Pragmatics effects: Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers like words, phrases, signs, and symbols, and what they stand for their denotation. Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics and semiotics that studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. If we analyze a sentence semantically its will provide us with denotative meaning but if we analyze it pragmatically we have to see the context for better understanding. In headlines this is very common that headlines give one meaning semantically but when we read the detail they provide us quite different meaning. Headline examples: 1) “Shamed by you English?” Semantically this sentence is odd but we get the idea that, ‘are you ashamed of your English’. When we read the detail we came to know that this was the ad of English tutor who says: “you can speak soon and write like a graduate college

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