Semiotics and Copy-writing

Studying advertising: why and how It is hard not to notice that advertising functions as one of the most proliferated narrative generators, producing dozens of narratives that our environment becomes enveloped in. Admittedly, creativity is […]

Coerced iconicity in writing and speech

Humans are iconophiles: we love to connect form and meaning, and do so even when it doesn’t seem warranted. This holds for writing as well as for speech. The writing system of Chinese is a […]

The zoosemiotic page: Wolf Matters

Learning about the social lives of other species, such as wolves (Canis lupus), is complicated by the difficulty of observing them in the wild.  Over the past few decades, increased opportunities to observe pack life […]

The Zoosemiotic Page: Wolf Matters

Learning about the social lives of other species, such as wolves (Canis lupus), is complicated by the difficulty of observing them in the wild.  Over the past few decades, increased opportunities to observe pack life […]

Beware Signifiers: Progression of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Signage Board

This began as an exploration of messages in our society. How do we develop these messages? Produce and distribute these messages? What are the aesthetic principles to these messages? I’m searching for a bloodline that rings throughout the entire platform of communication tactics, hoping that the sum is directly reflective when analyzing its parts. I started out thinking about these messages objectively but was quick to realize that when dealing with messages, you’re not just looking at how a sign looks and where it’s placed; you’re dealing with its words and indefinitely words aren’t without their healthy dose of subtext. This isn’t simply an exploration into messages; this is a scope into communication, leading to ideals, leading to communities, leading to humanity. Messages are representative of us, a modern trail of breadcrumbs, leading us to what we hope will manifest itself into validity or some sort of raw truth. […]

The Future of Wikileaks

Wikileaks provides a familiar glimpse into the future of networked knowledge. It is an effect of the slow erosion of the distinction between classified and declassified information. This erosion is the consequence of the manner […]

Rethinking Language Origins

So often, in language origins discussions, the ‘target to be explained in evolutionary terms is ‘language’ in the sense of the highly abstracted and idealized system that typically constitutes the object analyzed in linguistics. Although, indeed, an account of the development of such a system is needed, if the circumstances and manner of utterance production by actual human beings in concrete occasions of interaction is overlooked, important pieces of the puzzle we are trying to understand will almost certainly be missing. Two issues of importance with respect to this are outlined in what follows. […]

Culture, Power and Dictionaries: How to use lexicography to study cultural objects

Semiotics has to do with texts, that is, with the inscription, transformation and interpretation of organized sets of signs. In this contribution I shall contend that the genealogy of lexicography represents an ideal standpoint to address a central issue for semiotics, namely, how the manipulation of signs and meanings may determine the shaping of cultural objects. I shall begin by introducing the revolution that lexicography undertook during the nineteen century, discussing why this process required the availability of a specific set of concepts, as the one of “meaning” as something mutable and historical, and then how it led up to the emergence of new techniques of the self, to the coming into being of a new kind of people (the professional lexicographer) and to the introduction of new practices of sign-observation and inscription. I shall then consider how the lexicographer, being entitled to select certain definitions instead of others, acquired the power to fix the meaning of terms involving moral and religious content (“marriage”, “conversion”, etc.), to influence scientific and philosophical dispute (defining key-concepts as “continuity”, “belief”, “soul”, “ether”, etc.) and to impact the culture of distant populations by exporting new signs into their language (as the word “God”). Finally, I shall confront the historical development of lexicography with the project of the dictionary of Newspeak that George Orwell described in 1984. […]

Towards systems semiotics: Some remarks and (hopefully useful) definitions

Investigations into semiotic theory typically begin with the fundamental question: what is a sign? A definition is then offered, usually quoted from an established authority (such as C. S. Peirce), to get the argument started. But an a priori definition immediately begs a basic methodological question: how does the author of such a definition know that he or she is right? How did C. S. Peirce for example know that a sign is what his celebrated definition (Peirce 1998: 135) says it is. He may well have been right but he gives us no proof of that. His and similar ex cathedra definitions used in semiotics are often little more than intellectual opinions and intuitions presented to the reader to be accepted on faith, but they are not logical conclusions deriving from clearly stated premises. So how else can we arrive at a logically valid and possibly useful understanding of signs? […]

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