Semantic refers to the meanings of words and phrases.
Pragmatic refers to the use of language in a social context (knowing what to say and when and how to say it to other people).
Children with semantic difficulties struggle to understand the meaning of sentences or words.
- Words which refer to abstract concepts such as feelings (sad, puzzled, jealous) or status (important, official) can be especially hard for these children to understand.
- They misinterpret and take literally phrases such as “Cut it out!”, “Stop it” or “He’s a push-over”.
- Often it can be difficult for children with a semantic disorder to work out the topic or key information in a sentence.
Children with pragmatic difficulties struggle to use language socially.
- They do not understand how we take turns when we talk.
- They interrupt more than is acceptable.
- Their conversation often seems inappropriate or irrelevant.
- They can seem to be unaware of what their conversational partner needs to know – and can therefore say too much or too little about a subject.