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ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - Ferdinand De Saussure, Semiotics, Onomatopoeia

Course Code
Ivan Kalmar

of 2
Linguistics Lecture 2
How signs construct the world
Signification: “making sense,” “making signs”
Linguistic and non-linguistic signs
The Nature of Signs
o Signifier and signified (two aspect)
o Symbol, icon, index (three types)
Denotation and connotation (context of signs)
**Study of signs = semiotics study of: 1) language and 2) semiotics
**Study of language = linguistics (part of semiotics)
Study of language and semiotics (*TEST*)
Saussurean Theory on signification
o Signifier (sign/object) and signified (what is referred to
by the signifier/what it stands for)
Types of Signs
o Share some of their physical form with the referent
I.e. picture of the signified
o Do not share any of their form with the referent
o Doesn’t sound or look like the referent
o Referred to as indicate but does not picture it
o Smoke refers to fire
o Conventional signifier of referent
o Have arbitrary relation of signified referent
o Connected only via the system of signification (i.e
o Opposite of arbitrary is “motivated”
o Most words are arbitrary (symbols)
o Some words are not PURE symbols (onomatopoeia) but
even these words vary between languages
o Onomatopoeia words are ICONS
Can be mixed
Denotation vs. Connotation
Denotation: The actual, physical circumstance or picture
o Set, open to argument
Connotation: What the sign implies
o Open to argument
Construction and Constructs
Linguistics and other signs construct referents
Some referents are real and others (i.e. yeti) are not
o Therefore words construct reality lies, plans, future,
etc not necessarily real or real yet
o Construction through signs is an adaptive advantage of
homo sapiens
Reality = the world as it makes sense to us
o Most of reality does not come across to us without the
filter of signs and language
o Socially constructed
Construction = formed by people in society, nurture not
Our understanding of the world is constructed by language
Social Construction of the Self
Our concept of “self” is not entirely given by nature
Constructed by society by signs, especially language
Jacques Lacan
French psychoanalyst, helped Freud
Early Construction of Self
Baby doesn’t have innate separate sense of self, it learns it
Learns it partly through language
o Through the term “I” first refers to self as name
Learns to refer to self through other people’s
point of view at first