Semiotics

Semiotics, the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication – i.e. there’s more to things than meets the eye.  We can wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from the sun, but why does Bono always wear sunglasses indoors?  We could give someone flowers, but what does it mean when we give white orchids?  Death?  Purity?  If we write down the physical dialogue of daily events – denotation –  then we document what has occurred, but not the meaning, or connotations, of those events.  We could document that Jim walked into a pub, wearing smart clothing, stood in the middle of the room, put his hand in the air, and someone punched him in the face; which makes no sense whatsoever (this does depend where your live!).  If you note the specifics of the event – he was wearing a nazi uniform and made a heil hitler salute, in a Jewish pub – then the later events make much more sense.  

We say so much without words; so many things have connotations that change a situation, that without them, we would be lost.  The best analogy I can think is texting vs phone calls.  When we talk, we use inflections in our voice to give meaning (connotations) to the words, but when we text, the words are flat and can be read in any number of ways.  The only way we seem to try and get past this, is by adding extra text (‘only joking’), or emoticons to emote our feelings associated with this comment.

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