Semiotics (or semiology) is a theoretical framework for the study of the meaning of language, signs and symbols. It was first developed in the early 20th century, separately, by the Swiss Ferdinand Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce of the U.S.A. It can be described as both a science and a technique: a science because it has its own theories and a technique because it is a way of studying systems of representation and meaning. The 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. Signs can communicate through any of the senses, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory.
History and terminologyEdit
The importance of signs and signification has been recognized throughout much of the history of philosophy, and in psychology as well. The term derives from the Greek: σημειωτικός, romanized: sēmeiōtikos, "observant of signs" (from σημεῖον sēmeion, "a sign, a mark"). For the Greeks, "signs" occurred in the world of nature, and "symbols" in the world of culture. As such, Plato and Aristotle explored the relationship between signs and the world.
The general study of signs that began in Latin with Augustine culminated with the 1632 Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot, and then began anew in late modernity with the attempt in 1867 by Charles Sanders Peirce to draw up a "new list of categories." More recently, Umberto Eco, in his Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, has argued that semiotic theories are implicit in the work of most, perhaps all, major thinkers.
Semiotics is usually divided into three parts:
- Semantics - what was the meaning of the words or signs used;
- Pragmatics - who said it, to whom and in what circumstances and
- Syntactics - the formal rules of the language used.
The major branches of semiotics include:
- "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, σημει-ωτικός". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
- "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, σημεῖον". www.perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
- "Semiotics for Beginners: Signs". visual-memory.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-01-22.