Semiotics -Icon, Symbol & Index

Today we learnt of yet another three new meanings within the subject of semiotics. The three new meanings (as you can see above) are called icon, symbol and index. The three terms are actually sub-terms that come from signifiers, each of which help make up its functions.

The three terms were created by an American man by the name of Charles S. Peirce, who created them within the 19th century when studying and developing the meanings of semiotics.

The three terms mean the following:

Icon: Icons are the simplest of the three terms to understand. Icons refers to things that have physical resemblance to the signified item. In other words, things that physically/mentally remind you of other things. Rivers and roads could be a very good example of this, as despite not actually looking like real rivers or roads, we mentally recognise them as them. This is because they are iconic to us, and thus it becomes easy for us to understand its meaning since it is simply made to remind us of what it represent.

Symbol: Symbols are (as it’s name suggests) refers to various symbols, such as letters, numbers or actually symbols and signs that can be easily recognised even within different cultures. An example of this could be a public toilet sign (mens and ladies toilets), even if the viewer comes from another country with a different language and culture, the can still understand the meanings of the signs.

Index: Index sign are the most complex out of the three terms (by a little). Index sign are objects or other things that will always make you thinks of something else that links to it the signified. For example, if you think/see smoke it will often make you think of fire. This is because we will always make mental links from one thing.

Having learned these terms has been interesting in how we mental recognise objects in different ways and what factors about that object effect how we do. While I am unsure what I can use these terms for at the current time, they should still be useful if I ever need them within the future.



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