Based on “semiosis,” the relationship between
a sign, an object, and a meaning.
The sign represents the object, or referent,
in the mind of an interpreter.
“Interpretant” refers to a sign that serves
as the representation of an object.
Signs can be verbal (words) or nonverbal.
(from C.S. Pierce, Selected Writings, 1958).
According to C. Morris, people are interpreters
of signs. Signs have three factors that guide interpretation:
The DESIGNATIVE aspect directs to interpreter
to a particular object.
The APPRAISIVE aspect highlights object
qualities, enabling evaluation.
The PRESCRIPTIVE aspect directs one to
respond in specific ways.
-- from C. Morris, Signification and
- Signs and Meanings
According to Morris, human action involves
signs and meanings in three ways:
- Signs and Values
The perception stage - the person becomes
aware of a sign.
The manipulation stage - the person interprets
the sign and decides how to respond to it.
The consummation stage - the person responds.
Three signs ands values connections:
Signs, and Values
Detachment - the person or system maintains
Dominance - The person or system takes precedence
over, controls, or dominates another person or system.
Dependence - The person or system needs, is
controlled by, or dominated by another person or system.
-- C. Morris, Signification and Significance,
Theory of Symbols
S. Langer asserts that symbolism underlies
all human knowing and understanding.
Prefers the concept of symbol to sign.
“Symbols are … vehicles for the conception
of objects.”-- Langer, Philosophy in a New Key, 1942.
A symbol is “an instrument of thought,” allowing
a person to think about something apart from its immediate presence.
Theory of Symbols
Key relationship: symbol, object, person.
Symbols become meaningful in discourse.
Symbols can be discursive or non-discursive.
Discursive symbolism - language-based thought
Non-discursive symbolism - nonverbal- based
emotion and meaning; art, music, dance, etc.
Meanings can be found in both non-discursive
and discursive symbolism.
- What Value?
Every sign has meaning and the potential for
Multiple meanings are socially and culturally
Signs have both denotative and connotative
What is the practical relevance of semiotics?
What can we learn from semiotics that will
help us communicate well?
In what situations might semiotics theories
Are semiotics theories relevant to both verbal
and nonverbal communication situations?