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Semiotics is the theory of the production and interpretation of meaning Its basic principle is that meaning is made by the deployment of acts and objects which function as signs in relation to other signs Systems of signs are constituted by the complex meaning-relations that can exist between one sign and another primarily relations of contrast and superordinationsubordination eg classmember wholepart Signs are deployed in space and time to produce texts whose meanings are construed by the mutually contextualizing relations among their signs We seem as a species to be driven by a desire to make meanings above all we are surely Homo significans - meaning-makers And it is this meaning-making which is at the heart of the concerns of semiotics Semiotics treats meaning as a product of a system of conventions Culler 1985 116 within which signs are meaningful units taking the form of words images sounds acts or objects Such things have no intrinsic meaning and become signs only when we invest them with meaning For something to qualify as a sign it must have a physical form it must refer to something other than itself and it must be recognised as doing this by other users of the sign system Turner 1992 17 Saussure said that the linguistic sign does not unite a thing and a name but a concept and a sound image Saussure 1971 p 98 If we consider printed language then we could say that a sign consists of the printed form of a word and a concept if we consider a black and white photograph then the sign consists of a particular set of shapesshades and a concept In other words the thing referred to the referent is taken out of the sign----- thingreferent relationship and is replaced by concept Clearly the linguistic turn is strengthened by this since any notion of a reality external to language and concepts is de-emphasized Saussure actually saw
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