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Lecture 4

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTA02H3
Professor
jamesstinson
Semester
Summer

Description
ANTA02 Lecture4 TheMeaningofLanguage SEMIOTICS - The Science of produced meanings. - This word comes from the Greek word (semeiotikos), "observant of signs". - Signs can be defined as: an intermediary between thought and things. - Goal of semiotics is to unravel the meanings that are build into all kinds of human products, from words, symbols, narratives, symphonies, paintings, comic, books, painting etc. DENOTATIONVSCONNOTATION - Denotation: to mark out, point out, specify, indicate. The literal meaning of a word or a sign. - Connotation: refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. Connotations are constrained by culture. Example#1: Cow - Denotative: the mature female of a bovine animal, especially of the genus Bos. - Connotative: Slow : We could be waiting till the cows come home Excitable: Don't have a cow man! Food: Source of meat and milk..etc. Cross Cultural Meaning - Sacredness --> Cows are sacred for Hindus. Example#2: Rose - Denotative: Any of numerous shrubs or vines of the genus Rosa, having prickly stems, compound leaves, and variously colored, often fragrant flowers. - Connotative: Love, Romance, Passion. INTERPRETINGSIGNS Example: “v” sign - Winston Churchill: Former president of Britain. Peace Sign as a symbol of Victory. - John Leonard: Peace sign. Hippy- counter culture movement. - Random Woman: Symbolizes Girl Power (e.g., Spice Girls) or Powering Women. [Downward Triangle (V- Shape) represents female sexuality or female fecundity. Downward and Upward Triangle together resembles Harmony between Men and Women.] SemioticsinPopCulture: Dan Brown's character Robert Langdon is Professor of Religious Symbology. - Solves crimes and mysteries by interpreting signs and symbols hidden in artwork, archi..etc. - E.g., Brown's interpretation of DaVinci's "The Last Supper". ThemeaningofLanguage FERDINANDDESAUSSURE(1857-1913) - Widely considered one of the founders of the 20th century linguistics and Semiotics. - Languages are made up of signs and symbols and every sign has two sides and these two sides are known as the binary Model of the sign : Signifier and Signified. - Signs are arbitrary. - The signifier : "Shape" of a word, its component, i.e. the sequence of phonemes that make up a word. - The signified : the ideational component --> The concept or object that appears in our minds E.g A tall woody plants with lateral branches. - Therefore Sign = Signifier / Signified OR Concept/Sound-image OR tree/arbor. THECONCEPTOFARBITRARINESS - The relation between the signifier and the signified is "arbitrary", ie no direct connection between the structure of a word and the concept it represents. - No natural connection between the sounds of a word and its meaning. Meaning comes from convention - agreement (and learned) that these letters or sounds evoke a certain image. - The same object (tree) is referred to as arbor in French and baum in German. - The Same sounding word may have different meanings in different languages. E.g., IKEA Products. CHARLES.S.PIERCE(1839-1913) - one of the founders of modern semiotics. - Triadic model of the sign 1) Object 2) Represent-amen 3) Interpretant - Signs vary in level of arbitrariness. 1) Icon 2) Index 3) Symbol - Object: refer to actual physical thing (actual physical tree). - Represent-amen: refer to the image and symbol that represent some thing. E.g., Signifier. - Interpretant: image we get in our mind when we see a sign or symbol. E.g., Signified. - Icon: Share some of their physical form (shape, sound, etc) with the referent. No Smoking sign is an icon...tell us not to smoke. It is not arbitrary, just an image telling us what not to do. - Index: Indexes do not share any of their form with the referent. They "indicate" or point to what they refer to. E.g. Danger sign: skull and 2 cross bones. It is indexing Death. Symbol of death telling/pointing/indicating us what will happen. - Symbol: Symbols have arbitrary relation to signified ("referent'). Connected only via the system of conventional understanding. E.g. Red Octagon. It is telling us to Stop, thus refers as an arbitrary. Example: - That, there it, You, I: It is index, because it is pointing towards something. - Cat, dog, house, bird: They are symbols, because we decide what they are going to be called. - Bang, Boom, Splash, Buzz, Hiss: These are classified as Icon, they sound as what they symbolize. Ethnesemantics - Semantics refers to a language's meaning system. - Ethnosemantics is therefore the study of how different cultures (ethnos) understand and attach meaning to the world through language and symbols. - The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the way in which it speakers conceptualize their world, i.e. their worldview, or otherwise influences their cognitive processes. - Popularly known as The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Sapir and Whorf argued that the grammatical categories of particular languages lead their speakers to think about the world in different ways. 1) Strong version- language determines thought and that linguistics categories limit and determine cognitive categories 2) Weak version- linguistics categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds
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