Along with the springing up of semantics-empowered communication (SemCom) researches, it is now witnessing an unprecedentedly growing interest towards a wide range of aspects (e.g., theories, applications, metrics and implementations) in both academia and industry. In this work, we primarily aim to provide a comprehensive survey on both the background and research taxonomy, as well as a detailed technical tutorial. Specifically, we start by reviewing the literature and answering the "what" and "why" questions in semantic transmissions. Afterwards, we present corresponding ecosystems, including theories, metrics, datasets and toolkits, on top of which the taxonomy for research directions is presented. Furthermore, we propose to categorize the critical enabling techniques by explicit and implicit reasoning-based methods, and elaborate on how they evolve and contribute to modern content \& channel semantics-empowered communications. Besides reviewing and summarizing the latest efforts in SemCom, we discuss the relations with other communication levels (e.g., reliable and goal-oriented communications) from a holistic and unified viewpoint. Subsequently, in order to facilitate the future developments and industrial applications, we also highlight advanced practical techniques for boosting semantic accuracy, robustness, and large-scale scalability, just to mention a few. Finally, we discuss the technical challenges that shed light on future research opportunities.
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