Presentation on theme: "The nature of Sign and sign/symbol distinction"— Presentation transcript:
1 The nature of Sign and sign/symbol distinction Lecture # 10
2 Review of lecture # 9Langue/ parole distinction & competence versus performanceFerdinand De Saussure made a distinction between the two conceptsLangue- social, a set of conventions shared by all the speakers of a languageParole- belongs to individuals, actual sounds and sentences produced by speakers/ writers
3 Review of lecture # 9 Language system- Langue Language behaviour – ParoleNoam Chomsky made a similar distinctionCompetence versus behaviourKnowledge of the structure of language- competenceThe way a speaker uses knowledge- performance
4 Linguistic sign and symbol distinction Language is made up of signsSaussure says, sign is the central fact of languageSign- A physical marker which carries some informationThe information is direct, brief and precise (only this, no other)
5 Sign and symbol distinction(contd..) Sign is opposed to symbol which is a mere indicationSign contains more information & stands in place of something as a means of pointing towards it indirectlyExample: Gesture of waving hand – sign, but can be interpreted variously as symbolic of farewell, dismissal etc.
6 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) The way of eating, dressing up is a sign which signals some social practice or beliefWhen you apply the concept to behaviour, society and culture, it becomes evident that our whole culture is made up of signs which have special significance or meaning in our culture
7 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) Saussure’s idea of sign has led to the growth of a whole area of the study of operation of signs in culture and society- SemioticsIn language studies, it helps to understand what language isLinguistic sign has two parts – Signifier & Signified or the word which signifies and the object that is signified
8 Sign & Symbol distinction (contd..) Tree signifiesBut the word tree does not signify the actual object.In that case the word for this object in all languages would have been the same – treeSo, the word tree does not represent the actual object in life.
9 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) The word ‘tree’ represents the concept or the image in our minds.We invent a word with some sound images which is later used to represent the concept of it in our minds.No logical reason for choosing a certain combination of words to represent the concept
10 Signs and symbol distinction (contd..) Relationship between sounds (and words) & the concept they signify is an arbitrary oneModified diagram as under:Tree signifies Concept of tree(word or sound (mental image =Image = signifier) signified)
11 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) That which signifies (the word) is signifier.That which is signified (the concept) is the signified.Sign is the composite of both – it consists of the relationship between the signifier and the signified.This relationship continues over a long period of time
12 Sign & Symbol distinction (contd..) The relationship is established as a social fact by a society.It is arbitrary, not a logical relationship.It is not established by reason (there is no reasonable connection between the object and the sounds used to represent it)Only social agreement can give it validity
13 Sign & Symbol distinction (contd..) There is no intrinsic basis to it – linguistic sign is arbitraryMany such signs make up the system of languageSigns are relational entities, they exist only in terms of relation to each other.They enter into complex relationship with each other.
14 Sign & Symbol distinction (contd..) The relationships make up the whole system of language.Since arbitrary, the signs differ from one language to another – concepts are different in different languagesSame as concepts are different in different societies and cultures
15 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) Every society constructs its own concepts of real world and links these concepts to certain signifiers and signifieds arbitrarily chosen.The signifiers are then used to refer to these concepts and signifieds are used to refer to the actual objects
16 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) Once relationships are made, they are fixed.People not free to choose any arbitrary signifiers they want to chooseA symbol is any kind of sign that signifies several concepts on the basis of primary relationship between signifier and signified.
17 Sign & symbol distinction (contd..) The word ‘tree’ signifies concept of tree – that is primary relationship.It may also signify ‘life’, ‘growth’, etc.The word ‘book’ signifies the concept of a book, ‘face’ signifies concept of faceBookFace
18 Sign & Symbol distinction (contd..) The word ‘book’ may also mean ‘reserve’ and the word ‘face’ may also mean ‘to involve yourself with a person or situationThen the words ‘tree’, ‘book’ and ‘face’ are not only a signs, but also symbols.A symbol is built up of several associative relationships between the signifiers and the signifieds
19 Summary (Sign & Symbol distinction) Language made of signsLinguistic sign has two parts – Signifier & SignifiedThat which signifies (the word) – SignifierThat which is signified (the concept) – SignifiedSign – composite of both, it consists of the relationship between signifier & signified
20 SummaryThat is why we say that language is a system of symbolic signs since there are often very complex associative relationships between the signifiers and the signifieds in a languageSignifiers and signified operate in their relationship with each other
21 Summary Saussure’s contributions Saussure exerted two kinds of influence on modern linguistics: First, he provided a general orientation, a sense of the task of linguistics which has seldom been questioned.Second, he influenced modern linguistics in the specific concepts.
22 Summary Saussure’s contributions Many of the developments of modern linguistics can be described as his concept, i.e. his idea of the arbitrary nature of the sign, langue vs. parole, synchrony vs. diachrony, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations, etc.
23 SummarySaussure’s contributions Saussure’s contribution regarding the concepts of sign & symbol distinction brought a new revolution and enjoys a prime importance in the domain of modern linguistics