Ferdinand de Saussure
- (1857-1913) a linguist of
- Broke down the definition
of “sign” into two
-Signified and Signifier
rdinand_de_Saussure> accessed 9th August 2013
“We Are Open Sign” <torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com>
• Saussure concentrated more on written and
spoken language ,
• The connection between the Signified and the
Signifier is arbitrary.
• Though the language structure is arbitrary,
language usage is not. It needs ‘established
conventions’ (LittleJohn and Foss 2008, p. 107).
Charles Sanders Peirce
-A connection among
a sign, an object and
• Iconcs: resemble its referent in some way.
Superman has well-defined
41721563 accessed 10th August 2013
• Indexses: indicate something in relation to
something else. Unlike icons, indexes doesn’t
resemble their referent.
Pointing index finger
“pointing fingers” <http://bocsupportnetwork.com/pointing-fingers-makes-
us-feel-better-but-does-nothing-luke-131-5/> accessed 9th August 2013
• A symbol is a sign that stands for something in ‘an
arbitrary convention-based way’.
• Symbols bear meanings derived from conventions in
society, based on different contexts.
For example, a V-sign made with
the index and middle fingers
can stand symbolically
for the concept ‘peace’.
“peace sign”<http:www.rapgenius.com> accessed 9th August 2013
Semantics, Syntactics and Pragmatics
• Semantics looks at how signs relate to their
• Syntactics focuses the connections between
• Pragmatics observes how signs are practiced
and impacted on social life.
Scope and Limitations
• It supports in understanding ‘what goes into a
message’. For example, a speech
• It also helps understand ‘how the message
comes to have meaning’ (Littlejohn and Foss
2008, p. 105).
• But, it narrowly focuses on sign and its
How does Semiotic tradition apply to our daily
• Littlejohn, S and Foss, K. 2008, Theories of
Human Communication, Waveland Press, Inc.;
9 edition. USA