+
Semiotics

Semiotics

Description:

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

(more)
See More
Try a College Course Free

Sophia’s self-paced online courses are a great way to save time and money as you earn credits eligible for transfer to over 2,000 colleges and universities.*

Begin Free Trial
No credit card required

25 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

221 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 20 of Sophia’s online courses. More than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.

Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to today's lesson on semiotics. Today, you will touch on the study of semiotics and how it plays a role in your daily life. Specifically, you will learn about:

  1. Semiotic Theory
  2. Sign
  3. Symbol
  4. Index
  5. Icon
  6. Collective Use of Semiotics

1. Semiotic Theory

So semiotics-- or the semiotic theory-- is a study of how signs and symbols make meaning.

Term to Know

    • Semiotics
    • The study of how signs and symbols make meaning.

This plays a huge role in a variety of things-- including linguistics, art, literature, cinema, politics, religion, and more.

There are two key figures in the history of semiotics that I'll briefly mention: Charles Sanders Peirce and Roland Barthes.

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

Roland Barthes was a French literary critic who extended early semiotic theory to mass media and popular culture. He's considered to be the founder of contemporary semiotics. Charles Sanders Peirce was an American philosopher and developer of the formal theory of semiotics, and he developed a precise system for describing signs-- including terms like symbol, icon, and index.

Terms to Know

    • Sign
    • Something that stands for something other than itself.
    • Symbol
    • A sign which has no logical connection to what it signifies. The viewer must learn the connection between the sign and its meaning.
    • Index
    • A sign that can be understood because it is logically linked to or affected by what it stands for.
    • Icon
    • A sign that physically resembles what it signifies.

2. Sign

A sign is something that stands for something other than itself. It's going to be a representation.

Example A stop sign tells you to stop, and a caution sign tells you to be careful-- but neither one is the actual action of stopping or being cautious.

Now, ads can be signs in this case as well. Here is an ad.

This doesn't mean headlamp. It doesn't mean go turn the light on. It stands for something other than itself, so it's advertising a product. It stands for-- look how cool this thing is, or come buy it.


3. Symbol

A symbol is a sign which has no logical connection to what it signifies. The viewer has to learn the connection between the sign and its meaning. Look at the logo of Chrome below.


The viewer has to learn that this logo is associated to Chrome as a brand or product, and that's tied to a service or application-- in this case, the browser. The viewer has to learn that connection.

Example A flag may symbolize a country or nation, but it's not the country and it's not the nation, it's just an abstract symbol. It looks nothing like the US, so an outsider has to learn the connection to the country from the symbol.


4. Index

Index is a sign that can be understood because it's logically linked to or affected by what it stands for. So to put it simply, an index sign has a direct link between the sign and the object.

The sign below shows a curvy road, and it's logically linked to its location.

So there's a curvy sign there because there's a curvy road. There's a logical reason why it's there.


5. Icon

An icon is a sign that physically resembles what it signifies.  A crosswalk sign pretty clearly resembles what it's trying to depict, which is of course the crosswalk. 


Likewise, this icon of an escalator also very clearly resembles what it signifies.


6. Collective Use of Semiotics

Now sometimes, an image can be described by more than one of these terms. So here's a sign with symbols of the highways and exits.

You could also think of a wedding ring; it's both a sign and symbol. It’s a sign that the wearer is married, and also a symbol for anything they choose to associate it with-- commonly, love. Therefore, it functions as both a sign and symbol.


Summary

That wraps up today's lesson on semiotics. This lesson specifically focused on semiotic theory, signs, symbols, indexes, icons, and the collective use of semiotics.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR MARIO E. HERNANDEZ

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Semiotics

    The study of how signs and symbols make meaning.

  • 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.

  • Roland Barthes

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

  • Sign

    Something that stands for something other than itself.

  • Symbol

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

  • Index

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

  • Icon

    A sign that physically resembles what it signifies.