Semantics and Guardian Angel

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Nell was a movie that Jodie Foster played perfectly. She made the audience think… about our own upbringing, our own trials and difficulties, and our struggles to fit in. Jerry and Nell had a wonderful chemistry that women especially can adhere to, as the question of nature vs. nurture prevails. Nell's mother, who died at the beginning of the movie, raised Nell and her sister in a secluded cabin in the woods of a rural town. Her mom had a very skewed sense of the world, which made her retreat. The only beliefs the children grew up on were the horrible stories of the outside world, and the strong morals from the bible. Nell used three very prominent verbal communication codes in her life: semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic. Jerry and Paula had to "decode" these codes in order to understand what she was saying. The book says that Semantics refer to the meaning behind a word, and their primary and connotative meanings. One great example from the movie was how Nell called Jerry her "gaw anja," or translated: "guardian angel." She got this from a passage in the bible about a guardian angel swooping down from the heavens. Nell took this as primary meaning of Jerry, coming out of nowhere to be her friend and help her. Jerry took it as the connotative meaning that he is strong, supportive, and helpful. Jerry doubts that he is her "gaw anja" when he could not protect her from the scientists and the court wanting to keep her from being institutionalized for research. Next is the syntactic code. It is the way words are arranged, pronounced, and understood. Nell's English skills raised a lot of questions about how her mother taught her the language. Her mom had a stroke when Nell was young (or before she was born) and because of the deformity of her mouth, she taught her children words that were mispronounced and poorly constructed. Jerry and Paula had created a "Nell dictionary" in order to comprehend the sentences she was trying to create. Nell had to also bring Jerry up...
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