Implications Symbols or signs are the vehicles through which we conceptualize things So what does this say about the relationship between language and thought? Can you have thought without language?
Implications The French word mouton may have the same meaning as the English word sheep; but it does not have the same value. There are various reasons for this, but in particular the fact that the English word for the meat of this animal, as prepared and served for a meal, is not sheep but mutton. The difference in value between sheep and mouton hinges on the fact that in English there is also another word mutton for the meat, whereas mouton in French covers both
Different kinds of signs Symbol/symbolic: the signifier does not resemble the signified. It is arbitrary - so that the relationship must be learnt: e.g. language in general (alphabetical letters, punctuation marks, words, phrases and sentences), numbers, morse code, traffic lights, national flags
Different kinds of signs Icon/iconic: the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (recognizably looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) e.g. a portrait, a cartoon, a scale-model, onomatopoeia, metaphors
Different kinds of signs Index/indexical: the signifier is not arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified - this link can be observed or inferred
Structuralism Structuralists believe that if readers don’t understand the signs, they may misread a text.
Strengths This theory does focus on the author’s intent, and does focus on an objective interpretation without clouding the text with a subjective or emotional interpretation
Weaknesses Difficult to know who controls the meaning of a text. Reader looks only at linguistic structure and is not permitted to have an emotional attachment to the text. Not open to different interpretations
PracticeSignifier SignifiedA black cat24 Sussex Drive, OttawaStanley CupApril 1stColour green in trafficlightNod of head
Questions What are three key signifiers in this text that if you didn’t know what they signified, you wouldn’t understand the text. For each signifier, write down what it signifies If you didn’t know what a signifier signified, where would you go for information? What historical information or information about the author did you need to know to understand the meaning of the signifiers?
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