Semiotics

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Early Greek alphabet is painted on the body of an Attic black-figure cup at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Credit: Marsyas.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. It is a part of the Social Sciences.

"Semiotics is subdivided into three areas: semantics, pragmatics, and syntactics."[1]

These in turn are

  • the "[r]elation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata, or meaning,"[2] Semantics,
  • "[r]elations among signs in formal structures"[2], Syntactics, [and]
  • "[r]elation between signs and the effects they have on the people who use them"[2], Pragmatics.

Things[edit]

Relationships[edit]

Definitions[edit]

“[D]efinitions are always of symbols, for only symbols have meanings for definitions to explain.”[3] A term can be one or more of a set of symbols such as words, phrases, letter designations, or any already used symbol or new symbol.

“[T]he symbol being defined is called the definiendum, and the symbol or set of symbols used to explain the meaning of the definiendum is called the definiens.”[3] “The definiens is not the meaning of the definiendum, but another symbol or group of symbols which, according to the definition, has the same meaning as the definiendum.”[3]

Theory of signs[edit]

Def. "a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals [especially] with their functions in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics" is called semiotics (or semiotic).[4]

Def. "[t]he study of signs and symbols, especially as means of language or communication" is called semiotics.[5]

"Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or (in the [Ferdinand de Saussure] Saussurean tradition) semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which, for its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically."[2]

"The semiotic ladder consists of the following steps: physical world, empirics, syntactics, semantics, pragmatics and social world."[6]

Signs[edit]

Def.

1.a: a "gesture by which a thought is expressed"
b: "one of a set of gestures used to represent language"
2: "a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion"

is called a sign.[4]

"In semiotics, sign is something that can be interpreted as having a meaning, which is something other than itself, and which is therefore able to communicate information to the one interpreting or decoding the sign. Signs can work through any of the senses, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory or taste, and their meaning can be intentional such as a word uttered with a specific meaning, or unintentional such as a symptom being a sign of a particular medical condition."[7]

"A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone (sound) in the spoken form of the language."[8]

"A character (from the Greek χαρακτήρ "engraved or stamped mark" on coins or seals, "branding mark, symbol"[9]) may refer to any sign or symbol."[10]

"A grapheme is the smallest semantically distinguishing unit in a written language, analogous to the phonemes of spoken languages. A grapheme may or may not carry meaning by itself, and may or may not correspond to a single phoneme. Graphemes include alphabetic letters, typographic ligatures, Chinese characters, numerical digits, punctuation marks, and other individual symbols of any of the world's writing systems."[11]

Symbol[edit]

A red octagon symbolizes "stop" even without the word. Credit: MagicImage.

Def.

1: "something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance"
2: "an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities"
3: "an act, sound, or object having cultural significance and the capacity to excite or objectify a response"

is called a symbol.[4]

"A symbol is something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose symbolizes love and compassion."[12]

Interpretations[edit]

Allegorical interpretation is "an approach that assumes a text"[13] is not literal.

Language interpretation is "the facilitation of dialogue between parties using different languages"[13].

Semantics is the "assignment of meanings to symbols"[13].

Philosophical interpretation is "the assignment of meanings to various concepts, symbols, or objects under consideration."[13]

Aesthetic interpretation is "an explanation of the meaning of some work of art."[13]

In logic, interpretation is "an assignment of meaning to the symbols of a formal language"[13].

"Hermeneutics [is] the study of interpretation theory"[13].

"Exegesis [is] a critical explanation or interpretation of a text"[13].

Def. "[t]he effect of a sign on someone who reads or comprehends it"[14] is called an interpretant.

Semiology[edit]

Main source: Semiology

Although semiotics and semiology are probably always considered as exact synonyms, for the purpose of discussion, let the following definition be so:

Def. “the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication”[2] is called semiology.

At the outset, the simplest difference between semiotics and semiology is the origin of each word. Semiotics comes from the Greek semeiotikos. Semiology is a combined form of the Greek semion and the Latin logy.

Classifications[edit]

"[S]igns or sign systems [are classified] in relation to the way they are transmitted (see modality). This process of carrying meaning depends on the use of codes that may be the individual sounds or letters that humans use to form words, the body movements they make to show attitude or emotion, or even something as general as the clothes they wear."[2]

Semiosis[edit]

Main source: Semiosis

"Semiosis ... is any form of activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, including the production of meaning. Briefly – semiosis is sign process. The term ... [describes] a process that interprets signs as referring to their objects, as described in [the] theory of sign relations, or semiotics. Semiosis is [in reciprocal determinism] triadic and [per social cycle theory] cyclic. Other theories of sign processes are sometimes carried out under the heading of semiology"[15].

Social semiotics[edit]

"Logonomic rules rest on a set of classifications of people, topics and circumstances which are the result of contestation over long periods, but which ultimately derive from the ruling ideas of the dominant group."[16]

Hypotheses[edit]

Main source: Hypotheses
  1. Semiotics may study the sign and symbol dominant group and its use or interpretation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Charles Suhor (1984). "Towards a Semiotics‐based Curriculum". Journal of Curriculum Studies 16 (3): 247-57. doi:10.1080/0022027840160304. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0022027840160304. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Irving M. Copi (1955). Introduction to Logic. New York: The MacMillan Company. pp. 472. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Philip B. Gove, ed (1963). Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Company. pp. 1221. 
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1 at line 3505: bad argument #1 to 'pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  6. Göran Goldkuhl and Pär J. Ågerfalk (2002). Kecheng Liu, Rodney J. Clarke, Peter Bøgh Andersen, Ronald K. Stamper. ed. Actability: A Way to Understand Information Systems Pragmatics, In: Coordination and Communication using Signs Studies in Organisational Semiotics. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-0803-8_4. ISBN 978-0-7923-7509-8. http://www.springerlink.com/index/QX17165382256652.pdf. Retrieved 2012-04-20. 
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  8. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1 at line 3505: bad argument #1 to 'pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  9. χαρακτήρ, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
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  16. Robert Ian Vere Hodge and Gunther R. Kress (1988). Social semiotics. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. pp. 285. ISBN 0-8014-9515-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=wk427pgr8xAC&printsec=frontcover&hl=en#v=onepage&f=false. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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