A sign is something which represents something to someone else e.g
Signifier and Signified
Saussure said that there are two parts to each sign
Signifier – the label we put on a sign – the name or the sound
Signified – the mental association that we have when we hear or see the sign
Look at these signs – write down the signifier (what it is) and the signified ( what you think of when you see this sign ) Saussure noticed that the link between the signifier (what you call or label a sign) and what it stands for, is a random or arbitrary thing. What is the link between these objects and their labels?
There is no concrete, tangible link between signs and their labels – the words we use for them.
What do these words stand for? What do you think of when you read or say these words?
Summing up signs
Signs usually take the form of
NON-VERBAL (facial expression etc)
Words stand for things we want to communicate to others about – feelings, opinions, information
Sometimes we use pictures to communicate things to others and very often we use gestures or facial expressions or clothing to communicate with others.
C.S Peirce – Icon, Index, Symbol
Peirce recognised that signs did not all work in the same way – consider tattoos and piercings when looking at texts.
Some ‘signs’ are very closely related to the things they represent – these signs are called ICONS.
All these images are iconic, some more motivated than others
ICONIC signs convey truth and reality – what sort of texts tend to choose these sorts of signs?
An index is a sign which is related to the object it represents but not directly or in a concrete way.
For example, a knock on the door – an index of arrival . The knock is not ARRIVAL, it is not a direct representation of arrival, but it indicates arrival and is connected to that event.
Most facial expressions work in an indexical way – because you cannot represent an emotion, we look for signs which indicate them e.g a smile is an index (or sign) of happiness. The smile isn’t a direct representation of happiness.
Indexes are used to represent abstract things – emotions, ideas etc. Most non-verbal signs are indexes.
Look at the signs below – what are the indexes of?
Index of ………………?
Symbols are signs which have NO link at all with the thing it represents. The only reason we know what they mean is because we have learnt what they mean over time.
Words are symbols – there is no actual link between the word ‘table’ and the object because if there was, the word would be the same in all languages.
People decide to give objects labels in an arbitrary, random way and as long as other people agree to these labels, we all know what each other are talking about.
For example pachyderm is the random label (symbol) applied to which animal?
What is this symbol? Try to guess some more symbols on the sheet