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For many of us, the word "semantics" is used dismissively - for instance, when someone's making an argument using loaded language, you'd say "well, that's just semantics!"
Obviously, semantics is larger than that - way larger, in fact. It's the study of meaning in communication - the definition of words. Then there's General Semantics - how humans respond to symbols.
For a better definition, let's turn to the Institute of General Semantics - now celebrating it's 70th year. This weekend they hold the 56th Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in New York City. Who is Alfred Korzybski you ask? Well, he was the founder of the Institute - in Chicago in 1938. For about 40 years - it was located in Connecticut - and Korzybski is buried here.
Anyway, the IGS define General Semantics this way: "... it's not what you think. It's how you think ... how you feel ... what you see ... what you hear ... it's what you do".
...well, that narrows it down.
Today, where we live, we'll look for meaning in langauage - and tackle words like "democracy" and "liberty" - "capitalism" and "socialism."
We'd like you to join the conversation - have our words lost meaning? Are we too easily led by language meant to confuse? Add your questions, suggestions and comments below.
This show originally aired on 11/11/2008.
Block photo by D. Sharon Pruitt, Flickr Creative Commons