semiotics

semiotician /see'mee euh tish"euhn, sem'ee-, see'muy-/, n.
/see'mee ot"iks, sem'ee-, see'muy-/, n. (used with a sing. v.)
1. the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.
2. a general theory of signs and symbolism, usually divided into the branches of pragmatics, semantics, and syntactics.
[1875-80; see SEMIOTIC, -ICS]

* * *

Study of signs and sign-using behaviour, especially in language.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce led to the emergence of semiotics as a method for examining phenomena in different fields, including aesthetics, anthropology, communications, psychology, and semantics. Interest in the structure behind the use of particular signs links semiotics with the methods of structuralism. Saussure's theories are also fundamental to poststructuralism.

* * *

▪ study of signs
also called  Semiology, 
 the study of signs and sign-using behaviour. It was defined by one of its founders, the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, as the study of “the life of signs within society.” Although the word was used in this sense in the 17th century by the English philosopher John Locke, the idea of semiotics as an interdisciplinary mode for examining phenomena in different fields emerged only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the independent work of Saussure and of the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (Peirce, Charles Sanders).

 Peirce's seminal work in the field was anchored in pragmatism and logic. He defined a sign as “something which stands to somebody for something,” and one of his major contributions to semiotics was the categorization of signs into three main types: (1) an icon, which resembles its referent (such as a road sign for falling rocks); (2) an index, which is associated with its referent (as smoke is a sign of fire); and (3) a symbol, which is related to its referent only by convention (as with words or traffic signals). Peirce also demonstrated that a sign can never have a definite meaning, for the meaning must be continuously qualified.

      Saussure (Saussure, Ferdinand de) treated language as a sign-system, and his work in linguistics has supplied the concepts and methods that semioticians apply to sign-systems other than language. One such basic semiotic concept is Saussure's distinction between the two inseparable components of a sign: the signifier, which in language is a set of speech sounds or marks on a page, and the signified, which is the concept or idea behind the sign. Saussure also distinguished parole, or actual individual utterances, from langue, the underlying system of conventions that makes such utterances understandable; it is this underlying langue that most interests semioticians.

      This interest in the structure behind the use of particular signs links semiotics with the methods of structuralism (q.v.), which seeks to analyze these relations. Saussure's theories are thus also considered fundamental to structuralism (especially structural linguistics) and to poststructuralism.

      Modern semioticians have applied Peirce and Saussure's principles to a variety of fields, including aesthetics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, communications, and semantics. Among the most influential of these thinkers are the French scholars Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Semiotics — Semiotics, semiotic studies, or semiology is the study of sign processes (semiosis), or signification and communication, signs and symbols, both individually and grouped into sign systems. It includes the study of how meaning is constructed and… …   Wikipedia

  • Semiotics — Se mi*ot ics, n. Same as {Semeiotics}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • semiotics — study of signs and symbols with special regard to function and origin, 1880, from SEMIOTIC (Cf. semiotic); also see ICS (Cf. ics) …   Etymology dictionary

  • semiotics —  Semiotics  Семиотика   Междисциплинарная область, охватывающая различные науки (естественные, гуманитарные и технические) и изучающая знаки и знаковые системы; Также совокупность концепций, теорий и методов анализа разнообразных значений и… …   Толковый англо-русский словарь по нанотехнологии. - М.

  • semiotics — [n] study of signs as elements of communication langue, parole, pragmatics, semantics, sign systems, symbolism, syntactics; concept 349 …   New thesaurus

  • semiotics — ► PLURAL NOUN (treated as sing. ) ▪ the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. DERIVATIVES semiotic adjective semiotician noun. ORIGIN from Greek s meiotikos of signs …   English terms dictionary

  • semiotics — [sē΄mē ät′iks, sem΄ēät′iks] n. [Gr sēmeiōtikos < sēmeion, sign, akin to sēma: see SEMANTIC] Philos. a general theory of signs and symbols; esp., the analysis of the nature and relationships of signs in language, usually including three… …   English World dictionary

  • semiotics —    by Inna Semetsky    Semiotics is, in general, the study of signs and their signification. Deleuze and Guattari s semiotics present a conceptual mix of Charles S. Peirce s logic of relatives and Louis Hjelmslev s linguistics; both frameworks… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • semiotics —    by Inna Semetsky    Semiotics is, in general, the study of signs and their signification. Deleuze and Guattari s semiotics present a conceptual mix of Charles S. Peirce s logic of relatives and Louis Hjelmslev s linguistics; both frameworks… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • Semiotics — Semeiotics Se mei*ot ics (s[=e] m[ i]*[o^]t [i^]ks), or Semiotics Se mi*ot ics, n. 1. The study of signs as an element of communication; the analysis of systems of communication; also called {semiology}. [PJC] 2. a theory of signs and symbols,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.