Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The word semiotics is from the Greek word “semeiotikos,” which means interpreter of signs. Signs are important because they can mean something other than themselves. In the western World, we live in a society that is largely mechanistic and consumerist in outlook. Semiotics is about the tools, processes and contexts we have for creating, interpreting and understanding meaning in a variety of different ways. There are two basic types of signing, conventional and natural. For example, it is natural for us to wear clothes in the cold, but it is conventional for shoes like high heels to be seen as a sex symbol. There are numerous relationships that exist between signifier and signified. For example, an apple can mean temptation, and apple can mean healthy, an apple can mean fruit, an apple can mean apple. Many of the signs we use to communicate are arbitrary in the sense that they are not immediately transparent to us. With any icon there is some degree of resemblance between signifier and signified. The medium many be presentational, representational, or mechanical. We need to know that symbols stand for in advance if we are to understand them, for example, a black tie is an arbitrary relationship for a formal occasion. 

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