chapter  11
13 Pages

Disorders of semantics and pragmatics

Semantics concerns meaning in language while pragmatics has to do with language use. Difficulties with these can profoundly impair effective communication. In acquiring meaning, children have three basic, related tasks: labelling, packaging and network building, each with potential difficulties. Difficulties can also arise with idiom, and meaning relations. Understanding idioms requires considerable cognitive skill and experience to utilise the multiple referents invoked, and therefore develops gradually. Where there are difficulties, a student may treat idioms as literal sequences of individual words, obscuring the holistic meaning. For difficulties with semantics, the curriculum may provide extra time, and ensure that work supporting semantic development is embedded in planning across the curriculum. Pragmatics involves three major skills. These are using language; changing language; and following rules. Pragmatics skills are preceded by skills in taking turns, beginning in infancy with parent-child games and bonding activities. Problems with such basic skills and knowledge are associated with pragmatics difficulties.