Context Definition and Meaning

Context Definition and Meaning

Context is a term that derives from the Latin word contextus and that refers to everything that surrounds, either physically or symbolically, an event. From the context, therefore, a fact can be interpreted or understood.

This environment assumes that the context can be material (“The offender took advantage of the natural environment to hide behind the trees”) or symbolic (the social environment, the economic environment or another).

The context is formed by a series of circumstances (such as time and physical space) that facilitate the understanding of a message. For example: a portal that publishes a title such as “Carlos rested” does not provide the necessary data for the reader to be able to decode the message. On the other hand, the headline “After playing four games in two days, tennis player Carlos López rested and did not show up to train at the beginning of the preparation for the Davis Cup” can be interpreted without problems as it presents relevant information about the context.

The context in the language

The linguistic context, on the other hand, refers to those factors that are related to the stage of generation of a statement and that affect its meaning and interpretation. This assumes that a message depends on the syntax, grammar and lexicon, but also on the context.

Extralinguistic context is called the place, the possible interlocutors, the kind of registration and the moment in which a linguistic act takes place. These circumstances have an impact on the understanding of the linguistic situation.

Key in communication

Context is so important in communication that it should be the first thing to analyze when reading a book, watching a movie, listening to a song, or simply talking to another person. Starting from the cultural differences and arriving at the variations present in the same language, within the same country, it is evident that what for some is correct, for others it may not be. For example, in some cultures it is polite to eat using your hands instead of cutlery, while in others this attitude can be seen as disgusting and uncivilized.

The same thing happens with language; Among friends of one age group, it is common for codes to be used that would not be appropriate in another setting. This is seen a lot among teenagers, since their way of speaking tends to be giddy and full of idioms, so that if an elderly person hears a conversation of this type, they probably will not understand almost anything. Unfortunately, contextual differences are not always reasonable, as they sometimes arise from a lack of commitment to the language and not due to a spontaneous series of modifications.

The concept of context in music and computing

In music, on the other hand, contextual differences can be observed both in the musical aspect and in the textual aspect. For example, in popular singing it is very common that there is not a very solid technical training, and in most cases the artists do not have more than their raw instrument. Therefore, if we contrast this with a life dedicated to vocal study, which is normal in opera and chamber music, we will surely find a negligible tuning level in one context and absolutely unthinkable in the other. As for the lyrics of the songs, a rap contains a language that may seem vulgar, but it is correct in that type of compositions, where a poetry by Neruda would probably not make sense.

For computing, the context represents the information necessary to interrupt a task at a certain point and be able to resume it when desired. These data vary according to the type of hardware and application; Furthermore, two people can find very different ways to achieve the same result, probably with different degrees of efficiency, so the logic used when deciding the characteristics of a particular context must also be considered. A common example is the function present in operating systems to put them to sleep, which allows us to freeze the computer so that when we continue working we find everything as we left it.