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syntax

Contributor(s): Martin Hellspong

Syntax is the grammar, structure, or order of the elements in a language statement. (Semantics is the meaning of these elements.) Syntax applies to computer languages as well as to natural languages. Usually, we think of syntax as "word order." However, syntax is also achieved in some languages such as Latin by inflectional case endings. In computer languages, syntax can be extremely rigid as in the case of most assembler languages or less rigid in languages that make use of "keyword" parameters that can be stated in any order.

C.W. Morris in his Foundations of the Theory of Signs (1938) organizes semiotics, the study of signs, into three areas: syntax (the study of the interrelation of the signs); semantics (the study of the relation between the signs and the objects to which they apply); and pragmatics (the relationship between the sign system and the user).

This was last updated in April 2005

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