Semiotics – Signs

Today we learnt in class yet another new term within design, semiotics. Semiotics is a term used to describe the “signs” within other things, This does not mean literal signs like STOP signs, but the little things about objects and other things that help induce mental thoughts into you. It means the study of how acts of communication containing meaning.

The use of the word “signs” refers to the signs we see in our mind everyday which cause the creation of dozens of thoughts and ideas about the interpretation of what the thing was that we just saw. In a more simple example, if you saw an image of someone shaking hands with another person, while its intention may be one thing, our minds will often try to understand what the meanings are behind them, so, in this case it could be that we could think that the two people shacking hands are making an agreement/deal, or are just simply greeting one-another.

One of the earliest people to ever talk about semiotics would be a Frenchman called Ferdinand de Saussure, a teacher who was known for his great ideas about semiotics, and could arguably be called the “father of semiotics”. One of his explanations of the term was described as such:

“It is… possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life. It would form part of social psychology, and hence of general psychology. We shall call it semiology (from the Greek semeîon, ‘sign’). It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them. Since it does not yet exist, one cannot say for certain that it will exist. But it has a right to exist, a place ready for it in advance. Linguistics is only one branch of this general science. The laws which semiology will discover will be laws applicable in linguistics, and linguistics will thus be assigned to a clearly defined place in the field of human knowledge.”

Referenced from:

Semiotics can be spit into various, smaller terms that each describe the process and requirements of becoming semiotics. However, I will talk about those terms within another blog.


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