Semantics: The Study of Meaning

By Erica Dunten, Project Manager

Semantics, as defined by Wikipedia, are a range of ideas, from popular to highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection (or connotation).

Semantics is a constant challenge in our industry. Our challenge - we must first seek to understand, before we can be understood. Ask questions!

Below are a few examples of commonly used terms that tend to be used interchangely across the industry. What is the difference between....

  • Data versus information: The term data refers to factual information. It is primarily used for analysis and based on reasoning or calculation. Data itself has no meaning, but becomes information when it is interperted. Information is a collection of facts or data that is communicated. Data is not valuable until it is interperted into a language that we can understand.
  • Goal versus objective: A goal is long-term, intangible, broad plan, that defines the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed. An objective is a tangible, narrow plan, that one's efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish.
  • Strategy versus tactic: Strategy is a careful plan or method for achieving a goal. The term tactics are the device or devices for accomplishing an end.

These are just a few examples of common terms (and differences) that we should all be cognizant to ask when communicating with our thoughts and ideas, internally and externally.


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