04/12/15

Here I am going to be going into detail in the final understanding of my research into semiotics, I learnt about three parts of semiotics that are just as important as the other parts. These 3 parts are Icons, Symbols and Index’. These link to what type of sign something is is giving to people.

Icons- In iconic signs, the signifier is connected to the signified through the principle of resemblance.  A given signifier can make you think of something else signified inasmuch as it resembles that something else, looks like it, sounds like it, feels like it, tastes like it, smells like it, or, more generally, possesses some similar quality to it (as in spreading your arms out to signify huge). Iconic signs are obviously important for images, since many images resemble what they refer to. For instance a female and male public toilet, the signs for these make it clear as to which door is for which gender.

bathroom-gender-sign
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Bathroom-gender-sign.png

Index-  Here the signifier makes you think of the signified because the two are frequently physically connected in the real world.  Cause-and-effect links are good examples of indexical signs, for example  smoke is caused by fire and contiguous with it, and therefore the smell of smoke that is the signifier, makes you think of fire that is processed as signified. Similarly, footprints are an indexical sign that someone walked here and certain automatic gestures and facial expressions are indexical signs of feelings, like tears equal sadness.  In addition to these “natural” indexes, things that are only customarily or conventionally connected can also be used as indexical signs.  A very good example of this is a picture of the White House in a news broadcast as it is often used as an indexical sign for the American president because the White House is the home and office of the president.

2000px-us-whitehouse-logo-svg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svg/2000px-US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svg.png

Symbol- Both iconic and indexical signs are at least partially what could be called natural signs:  that is, in using them, we humans are profiting from an already-existing link between signifier and signified.  Symbolic signs, by contrast, are purely artificial on the other hand,  the signifier is linked to the signified only by an arbitrary, human-imposed convention.  Except for a few quasi-iconic words like the onomatopoeias “woof” and “creak,” most signs in verbal languages are symbolic.  There is no physical connection or natural resemblance between the English word “dog” and the concept dog.

dog-woof
http://image2.spreadshirtmedia.net/image-server/v1/compositions/123745747/views/1,width=235,height=235,appearanceId=250,backgroundColor=f9f9f9,version=1439812226/Dog-Woof.jpg

Any other signifier could just as plausibly be used to convey that concept, provided a group of people agree to do so, and indeed in different languages. English speakers could just as plausibly have employed the sound “gimble” to signify dog, a purple traffic light to signify “stop,” or # rather than $ for a dollar sign. Consequently, symbolic signs tend not to travel as well as iconic or indexical signs.  They do not operate at all outside of a limited region and time period, and when you come across a historical or foreign symbol you can’t tease out its meanings by inference.  Symbolic signs are also very important for images such as a piece of clothing in a portrait symbolizes profession (a business suit), social status (a king’s crown), gender (a dress), and so on.

Analysed from – http://home.myfairpoint.net/iago.site/icon,%20index,%20symbol.html

This research has been useful as I have now got a better understanding of the whole semiotic theory. I plan now to merge this into further research into my subculture (Zoot Suits).

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