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Author: Nancy Esslinger

In this lesson you will learn to define and recognize the use of semiotics, a perceptual communications theory.

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Terms to Know
Charles Sanders Peirce

American philosopher and developer of the formal theory of semiotics. Peirce developed a precise system for describing signs, including the terms symbol, icon and index.


A sign that physically resembles what it signifies.


A sign that can be understood because it is logically linked to or affected by what it stands for.

Roland Barthes

French literary critic who extended early semiotic theory to mass media and popular culture. Barthes is considered the founder of contemporary semiotics.


The study of how signs and symbols make meaning.


Something that stands for something other than itself.


A sign which has no logical connection to what it signifies. The viewer must learn the connection between the sign and its meaning.