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Dr John Crossley




Introduction to Signs

The Red Rose is a well understood sign for romance, amongst other things

We seem as a species to be driven by a desire to ‘Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a make meanings: we make meanings through sign’, declares Peirce. Anything can be a sign our creation and interpretation of ‘signs’. as long as someone interprets it as ‘signifying’ something - referring to or standing for someAccording to Peirce, ‘we think only in signs’ thing other than itself. (Peirce 1931-58).

Religious Symbols signify faith systems

Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts or objects, but such things have no intrinsic meaning and become signs only when we invest them with meaning.

We interpret things as signs largely unconsciously by relating them to familiar systems of conventions. It is this meaningful use of signs which is at the heart of the concerns of semiotics.

Ferdinand De Saussure 1662-1665 Saussure offered a ‘dyadic’ or two-part model of the sign. He defined a sign as being composed of:
 a ‘signifier’ - the form which the sign takes the ‘signified’ - the concept it represents.

Multiple levels of meaning The Photo is a signfier – the signified is St. Paul’s Cathedral Second LevelBlack and White Photographs signify nostalgia or ‘olden times’ St. Paul’s still standing during blitz signifies British defiance/resilience against Nazis.

Task In Your Group try to work out what is the signifier and what is being signified. With all the layers of meaning you can think of. ‘signifier’ - the form which the sign takes; and ‘signified’ - the concept it represents.

Foundation Week 4