Semiotics is the study of signs. This research field is also called semiology or, where the focus is on meaning, semantics. The prefix “sem-” is derived from Greek semeion = “sign.” Signs occur throughout living nature, in plants, animals, and humans. As a sociocultural phenomenon, they characterize language, gesture, imagery, music, clothing, architecture, and so on and constitute formal languages such as software. A sign is something that “stands for” something other than itself. It contains information about this “other” and so allows an exchange of information. There is no communication without signs. But only in a given context does a sign gain “meaning” or “sense.” The fact that in the social world a sign usually carries more than one meaning becomes a key issue of semiotics.
Roots and usages of the term semiotics
Medical diagnosis of ancient times comprised a theoretical and an empirical division; the latter, semeiotikon meros, dealt with the observable signs of diseases. Under...
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