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Semantic Barriers

Semantics is related to meanings of words. To be more exact, it is related to connotative and denotative meanings of words and its study. Every word has a direct meaning called the denotative meaning. In addition to its exact or lexical meaning, words also acquire implied meanings called connotative meanings. Connotations are understood based only on an individual’s experience. If the encoder and decoder do not share the some connotative meaning for a word, miscommunication occurs. We have already seen how ‘bimonthly’ can mean two different concepts to two different people even at denotative level. Similarly, examine the word ‘cheap’ as an adjective. You will enjoy a ‘cheap holiday’ because you spend less than the real cost. Industries desire ‘cheap labour’ to reduce the over all cost of production. These connotations of cheap as an adjective are different from the connotations in expressions like “cheap popularity’ and “cheap joke”. If the receiver does not understand the connotation attributed by the sender, miscommunication takes place. But when words are used for denotations alone, not much damage will be done. To overcome the semantic barrier to communication, the communicator should choose the precise and exact word that will carry the same meaning for the receiver in the given context. The meaning of the word is related to context at the connotational level. A complimentary expression may derive a connotative derogative meaning which will ruin the communication process. If you examine the word ‘fellow’, you will find so many connotations to it. The word used with adjectives such as ‘nice’ and ‘lousy’ change the complexion of the word ‘fellow’. A ‘nice fellow’ and a lousy fellow’ are poles apart. If you call some one a ‘fellow scholar’, he is your contemporary. A ‘fellow traveller’ is simply your co-passenger on a train, but in another context he is a sympathizer or a secret member of the communist party. Fellowship simply means companionship / friendliness. However, in special contexts it can have different connotations. You can be a scholar with UGC (University Grants Commission) getting a fellowship.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • waqar butt May 4, 2011, 11:14 am

    no cments

  • chayambuka munyaradzi October 15, 2011, 1:11 am

    your essay seems to be clear and good but can your allow me to add other point which state that even jargon ,slang , metaphors also act as semantic barrie to effective communication

  • apple kate l. bañados December 15, 2011, 12:05 pm

    it helps a lot………tnx for this…

  • apple kate l. bañados December 15, 2011, 12:08 pm

    it gives a new idea..on how semantic barriers brings a big impact to complete the communication process.

  • AB October 17, 2012, 4:25 am


  • AB October 17, 2012, 4:26 am

    helped for paper……. tnkz

  • bharti setia September 11, 2013, 11:20 pm

    helped for completing assingnmet…thankkkks

  • robert March 29, 2014, 2:39 pm

    how can you overcome sematic barriers?

  • abby October 1, 2014, 4:17 am

    thanx a lt

  • mupariwa e October 27, 2014, 10:30 pm

    thanks for solutions to overcome semantic barriers

  • adam msangi January 2, 2015, 6:49 am

    thanks for your solution

  • meghnad February 25, 2015, 10:03 pm

    Thanks for my help

  • SEELETSO April 24, 2015, 3:57 pm

    thank you for help

  • Haha February 10, 2016, 7:49 am

    wow.. thanks

  • Jiya may 2 2016 May 3, 2016, 4:53 am


  • Shahzaib Hassan July 7, 2016, 11:31 am

    Thanks for ma amprove research.
    Very cool

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