Manual Signs in Use: An Introduction to Semiotics

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While tracks are left by the object and can lead back to it, symptoms most often occur at the same time as the object, and form a part of it. When we speak of symptoms, we usually think of medical disorders. In fact, symptomatology the study of symptoms is still referred to from time to time as semiotics, the study of signs of diseases.

In ancient times, semiotics was considered a medical discipline; the writings of the Greek physicians Hippocrates c. AD — contain the earliest systematic representations of diagnoses based on signs. Some symptoms have proven invaluable, enabling physicians to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the proper treatment: As a rule, however, both subjective symptoms e. Symptoms, though, can appear in characteristic combinations known as syndromes that can be interpreted as a complex sign suggesting the presence of a certain illness.

Such syndromes are a set of indices, a collection of symptoms that in all likelihood all refer to the same object. Until now, we have discussed reagents as having a direct physical relationship to the object. There are, of course, also symptoms of emotional or psychological conditions i. Some elementary expressions of emotions seem to be natural to the human species, e. Just as some physical symptoms are connected to certain physical disorders, some behavioural patterns are characteristic of certain psychological illnesses, like persecution complex among paranoiacs, compulsive—obsessive behaviour among neurotics, and psychogenic paralysis and lack of emotions among hysterics.

But such psychological symptoms are equally ambiguous, and therefore unreliable, as physical symptoms. To complicate matters, many symptoms may have either physical or psychological causes. Furthermore, there is a grey area between what is physical and what is psychological, and the interaction between these two domains remains largely unexplored territory to medical science. In fact, even three signs do not ensure a correct diagnosis. For instance, both diseases D1 and D2 are characterized by symptoms s3, s4, and s8, while diseases D2 and D3 are signalled by symptoms s2, s5, and s7.

None the less, each disease has several unique combinations of symptoms. This is equally true for tracks: For those who are able to interpret them, the signs reveal some information about reality. Here, however, we are dealing with reasons for behaviour. The second major group of indexical signs are designations, signs that signify by pointing to something.

Examples of these signs include demonstrative pronouns, proper nouns, and letters that identify geometrical points or planes. Odense, for instance, designates a city in Denmark that is located 55 degrees 23 minutes north and 10 degrees 23 minutes east. The above-mentioned indexical systems are intersubjective and conventional, though this does not necessarily hold true in all cases. In language, for instance, deictic systems derived from the Greek deiktikos: For personal pronouns, I refers to the one who is speaking, you refers to the one who is spoken to, and he, she, or it refers to that which is spoken about.

Similarly, the present is the point in time at which speech takes place. The designations of time and place can be either subjective or objective: Subjective yesterday today tomorrow Objective the previous day this day the next day here there at the place where from the place where 36 Signs: Reagents are directly determined by their object, while designations merely serve to point toward their object. In most — but certainly not all — cases, the connection between object and sign includes their co-occurrence, i.

Symptoms are part of a disease, and the part which is easiest to perceive and recognize. Tracks indicate that the animal which left them is still nearby. Iconic signs While the ability of indexical signs to represent something else is based on their connection to the object, iconic signs are based on their similarity to the object.

Nothing would seem more straightforward: This similarity enables the sign to be used to identify the object, as police detectives use mug shots to identify a suspect. This is primarily because anything can be considered similar to something else when seen from a certain perspective.

To illustrate, we will borrow an example from the American philosopher Nelson Goodman, one of the harshest critics of the notion of similarity: However, a mathematician specializing in topology the study of the relationship between curves and surfaces may argue that 3 is, in fact, the correct answer, since both 2 and 3 delimit just one surface while 1 delimits two for a further critique of similarity, see Goodman Nevertheless, we constantly make comparisons of similarity in our everyday speech, and have no trouble understanding each other when making comparisons.

Images are iconic signs that have simple qualities in common with the object. When a paint-store customer presents the clerk with a piece of cardboard in the particular shade of red that he wants to paint his walls, the cardboard becomes an image of the desired object, the paint. In this example, it is obvious that the sign and object share just one common property, their colour.

Those objects we traditionally refer to as images, such as portrait paintings, consist of a collection of properties shared by both object and sign. If the portrait, be it a painting or photograph, is a good likeness, people who are acquainted with model X will immediately recognize the portrait as being an image of him, while people who have only seen the portrait can use it in order to recognize X at some later date. Police release photographs of missing or wanted persons, often leading strangers to identify them, because the portrait depicts relevant features of the model, that is, the features we focus on, like the eyes, nose, mouth and jaw areas.

In a semiotic sense, images are not only visual or pictorial signs, but any sensory qualities, or combinations thereof, that represent an object. This also holds true for the other senses. The woman claimed she had run into trouble after being seduced by the dangerous aftershave.

Diagrams Images share sensory qualities with the objects they represent, while diagrams share relations and structures with their objects. A building may be shown as an image that depicts the structure from afar in a romantic sunset; and it may be shown as a diagram that lays out its exact architectural structure. In addition, the book may also include a ground plan showing the proportions of all the surfaces in the building, which one could never observe with the naked eye from any angle, inside or outside the building.

Images, in other words, present us with aesthetic experiences, while diagrams provide us with information on the object see below. They have a greater degree of abstraction determined by the criteria for what is essential, as well as an intellectualization and generalization. A city map which, as we have discussed above, also has strong indexical properties is one example of a diagram, where abstraction and intellectualization on the basis of essential criteria play an important role.

City maps are connected to an individual object; for instance, a map of Munich is useless to a tourist exploring New York City, and vice versa. Other kinds of diagrams, on the other hand, do not present particular objects. Similarly, the classroom skeleton also remains anonymous. In addition, a diagram as well as an image does not have to represent an abstraction of something already existing. It can be not only a model of something like a map , but also a prototype or model for something, such as an architectural sketch or virtualreality construction functioning as a building plan.

Second, a diagram does not have to present relationships that are connected to the material world, but can equally well present intellectual or logical relationships: This diagram deals with logical relationships. To recall the classical example: As it stands, it should be added, this is a formal inferential scheme commonly called syllogism that claims universal validity.

Third, iconic signs, and particularly diagrams, allow for experimentation. Fourth, diagrams — and, to a certain degree, images — are conventional in the sense that the relationship s can be presented in more than one way. Peirce gives the following illustration of diagrammatic presentation of a logical relationship, namely, his perception of the relationship between the sign and the three types of signs: This relationship can also be presented thus: Fever, for instance, is not an illness but an index, or symptom, of an illness.

Naturally, the height of the column corresponds to the intensity of the fever; the mercury therefore represents a parallelism to the temperature in something else, another medium. We use the new, visual sign Signs: Our ability to spatialize phenomena and relations enables us to strengthen the direct link between our I—here—now perspective and our body.

For instance, we experience that something is in front of us, behind us, above us, to our left, or to our right. Similarly, we use spatial metaphors when we say that prices are low or high; that stocks are rising or falling; that someone is falling behind; or that someone is on top of the world. Let us observe the following list: And the metaphors, like the diagrammatic positions, can be either valid or invalid: This list is simply wrong: It would be equally false to claim that prices are falling when the economic statistics show the price index jumping 25 per cent from the previous month.

Three important points should be made here. Second, the use of metaphors does not mean that the validity of the utterances in which they occur becomes impossible to determine. Just as there are trivial, empty and meaningless metaphors in poetic texts, there are also as we have previously observed invalid and improperly applied metaphors. Third, the use of metaphors is not only a matter of expression and emotion, but can also provide insight and be intellectually productive — creative — as it often is in great poetry.

For instance, when researchers began considering and speaking of the human brain as if it were a computer, a whole new arsenal of knowledge, perspectives and problems came into play. The scientists began by studying the metaphor the brain is a computer, and attempted to determine its extent and validity. After several years, they started to speak of the computer as a brain, adopting a number of neurological insights and problems. In the twentieth century, for instance, language has been considered as a form of algebra by Peirce, de Saussure, Hjelmslev, among others , as a generator by Chomsky , and as action by analytic philosophers and pragmatists.

Images and diagrams, on the other hand, are often near-indistinguishable, since most iconic signs that we refer to as images also contain diagrammatic properties, by presenting rela- Signs: We may conclude that the qualitative and relational always belong together. This also means that even simple images in the common everyday sense possess a high degree of freedom from the represented object, and that the method of representation is as dependent on conventions as it is on the object. Symbolic signs A chalk mark is like a line though nobody uses it as a sign; a weather cock turns with the wind, whether anybody notices it or not.

Peirce, unpublished manuscript no.

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Negatively, symbolic signs are characterized by being arbitrary, unmotivated, i. In other words, it is not their own characteristics that make them signs, as with iconic signs; nor is there a natural bond between sign and object, as with indexical signs. Instead, symbolic signs are constructed or agreed upon to be used as signs for given purposes in the internal or external world, i. In the discussion here, however, we will focus on signs that are based on generalized social conventions, forming sign-systems.

The most important of such symbolic sign-systems is language. Saussure expressed this relationship in the following terms: In this passage, he also addresses the sequential nature of the acoustic word-signs, stating that a characteristic feature of these signs is that they are made up of smaller elements.

The expression substance of the linguistic sign, its acoustic form, possesses a so-called double articulation. These minimal signs can be what non-linguists refer to as words e. For instance, the word unconcernedness consists of four meaningful linguistic elements, that is, four signs: This distinction is probably of a relative nature; a verb, after all, is generally attached to a subject in order to specify its meaning.

The crux here is that all four elements of unconcernedness have a meaning that can also be applied in other contexts: The characteristic feature of language, however, is the second articulation, the division into the smallest units of sounds, that are not meaningful but serve a meaning-distinctive function. The example also shows that, in natural languages, the order of phonemes is equally decisive; for example, if we reverse the order of the consonants, e. In other words, linguistic signs are made up of non-signs. According to this sweeping thesis, all existing languages show such features, and languages distinguish themselves by the way in which they select and combine them into phonemes.

Phonemes, following each other like letters in a linguistic chain, are themselves the result of the simultaneous articulation of several distinctive features taken from several of the above-mentioned oppositions; for instance, the phoneme p is both a consonant and unvoiced, and it may be both aspirated and unaspirated. Analysis means fragmentation, and the possibility of segmenting larger units into their more basic elements stresses an important characteristic of language and symbolic signs generally. The distinguished Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev noted that any linguistic analysis crosses two borders.

The second border runs between signs and nonsigns, i. Hjelmslev expresses his view of the nature of language thus: But, with all its limitless abundance, in order to be fully adequate, a language must likewise be easy to manage, practical in acquisition and use. Such non-signs as enter into a sign system as parts of signs we shall call 46 Signs: If a language were not so ordered it would be a tool unusable for its purpose.

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Signs and sign-systems The relationship between a symbolic sign and the object it represents is conventional, functioning on the basis of an interpretative habit agreed to by consensus. Here, the sign—object relation is unmotivated radically arbitrary , i. Whether such a formal and abstract point of view is useful for semiotics and linguistics is doubtful, to say the least. Both warning and prohibitive signs are with some exceptions coloured red or white, but distinguish themselves through their shape.

Warning signs consist of a white, equilateral triangle framed by a red edge. With the exception of highway signs, all the warning signs point upwards, so that the lower edge runs parallel to the surface of the road. Prohibitive signs, on the other hand, consist again with some exceptions of a white circle framed by a red edge. Both critical regulatory signs stop, yield, turn and informative guidance signs lane and curb usage, speed regulation consist of a blue background with additional signs in white, but no frame again, there are some exceptions.

However, while the signs giving critical rules are circular like the prohibitive signs, the shape of the informative signs is rectangular. In this table, a certain content is linked to a certain combined colour and shape expression, both organized along simple, digital structural codes. This can also be presented as follows: Furthermore, we can extrapolate from Table 3. The critical rules either order or forbid a certain action, i. Further, the relation between expression and meaning is unmotivated, arbitrary.

Instead, his focus was on language as the prototypical system. Phonemes, for example, are ordered as a series of opposing pairs: According to some structuralists, the words woman, man, girl and boy can be analysed in a similar fashion to the phonemes above, within the dimensions species 1 , gender 2 and age 3: If we add to this the important and indubitable fact that all four belong to the human race within the spaces marked by 1 , we are presented with a useful diagram, which can be expanded further: Such analyses of meaning as a system of oppositions are important both to linguistic and literary studies.

These examples of content analysis, however, do not show that we have already reached the limit of signs as far as their meaning content is concerned. Clearly, we have dissolved the word woman into three components: As concerns the meaning of the sign, we will make the following statement: However, this does not challenge the systematic study of the meaning components which signs possess; it simply means that the components themselves are in turn signs, i.

One important characteristic of symbolic signs, from a Saussurian point of view, is that they are that, which the others are not, i. This is how signs in general, and symbolic signs in particular, are essentially two-sided. They have an external and an internal aspect: However, it would be erroneous to believe that signs occur in pure form, i.

Peirce was perfectly clear on this point: We say that the portrait of a person we have not seen is convincing. So far as, on the ground merely of what I see in it, I am led to form an idea of the person it represents, it is an Icon. Besides, I know that portraits have but the slightest resemblance to their originals, except in certain original conventional aspects, and after a conventional scale of values, etc. The portrait does have indeed, must have iconic features; for instance, a photograph of one-half of a one-egged pair of twins is only an indexical sign of the twin that was photographed, but can in practice also function as an iconic sign of both twins.

Similarity only becomes apparent through the conscious or unconscious acceptance of some conventions regarding pictorial representation. It must be stressed that not only images have indexical and symbolic elements; both indexical and symbolic signs also contain elements of the other two types of sign.

We have here dealt with three types of signs in the sequence indexical— iconic—symbolic because — according to Piaget-based theories on cognitive development see Bruner , and Piaget and Inhelder ; see also Johansen a — this is the developmental order in which children learn to interpret the signs in their environment, and hence to accommodate to 52 Signs: In order for very young children to understand something to be a sign of something else, there must be a connection in space and time between sign and object.

Piaget mentions, for instance, that infants are able to interpret a plastic nipple, sticking out from behind a pillow, as a sign of the feeding bottle. A little before the age of 18 months, the child makes a decisive leap in its development, growing independent of the connection and co-presence of both sign and object. This is among other things expressed in delayed imitation and symbolic play. Delayed imitation breaks the chronological connection between original and sign e.

After the child begins to engage in symbolic play, it soon progresses to speaking and understanding language. This is because the linguistic sign represents the object in a similar fashion to the mental image and substituted object in symbolic play. Nevertheless, we cannot exclusively regard this mental development as a simple process, in which new meaning mechanisms are acquired and added to the existing ones.

For instance, in the earliest phase, when the child is still dependent on the physical connection between object and sign, its ability to recognize signs also presupposes an ability to perceive some elementary iconic and symbolic properties. These properties alone, however, are at this stage unable to release sign recognition; this is why the indexical aspect still dominates here. At a later stage, the child develops an understanding of signs in which iconic or symbolic aspects dominate.

In this way all three aspects of the semiosic process — indexical, iconic and symbolic — constantly support each other; and it is the interrelation between them that makes the production of meaning possible. No matter whether one feels that this assertion sounds correct from time to time, it is based on an assumption which is incorrect: Discourse analysis builds on an utterly opposed underlying view: When both signs and the actions they constitute are bound together in one concept, the discourse concept widens semiotic analysis, potentially threatening any clear delineation of its boundaries.

At the same time, however, discourse analysis involves a limitation which may lead to greater precision. Admittedly, it is not always easy to decide between the subject and the intention in a particular context. Let us follow two Sunday strollers in the woods. The other stroller stops too, silently watching. He catches sight of something, tugs at the sleeve of his friend and says: And now both of them have caught sight of the bird. The sound of the bird is an indexical sign, a so-called reagent see Chapter 3, p.

The song of the bird causes those out 54 Discourse analysis: But not until one of them uses signs words and a tugged-at sleeve can we speak of a discourse. For now subjects are involved. They wish to communicate with each other in a dialogue that is based on signs of a type that the subjects have in common — in this instance, words and gestures. And because they have these signs in common they are able to exchange roles in the dialogue, according to what they want to impart or allow the other to impart, and to achieve mutual understanding, no matter whether they agree or disagree with each other.

In principle, they can actually go on taking turns at asking and answering as long as other considerations — the power of the one over the other, external factors such as noise or the disappearance of the bird — do not compel them to abandon the dialogue. Natural phenomena can also, under certain circumstances, be understood discursively. But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

Nature says, — he is my creature. I am part and parcel of God. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. Through nature, God speaks to mankind of his creation and, through the language of nature, he makes himself visible to mankind as creating subject. The discursive voice of nature allocates roles, and the division of power in the mutual relationship between God and mankind is also allocated — the positions from which they can speak to each other.

But they always have the possibility of occurring in universes in which they can become elements of a discourse. But it can also be real, as in the case of our Sunday strollers, with bird-song, a walk in the woods and conversation. Discourse analysis and discourse Discourse analysis sees the sign as an action which takes place at three levels at one and the same time. This means that the sign can be localized in two respects: Discourse localizes where meaning occurs in time and space and in a medium of expression.

It is an action that establishes or maintains certain interconnected roles or positions, possibly positions of power where subjects manifest their intentions concerning each other in such a way that those using the signs can change position and take turns at speaking. The form is, nevertheless, that of a dialogue, even though the content is a one-way command, since the command — precisely via the dialogue form — is also interlaced with other types of action when someone commands somebody else to do something.

Discourse allocates subjective positions in the formation of meaning. This is referred to as a discursive universe. In the same physical space, e. It could, of course, 56 Discourse analysis: These universes are not only demarcated by their material boundaries, but also by the meanings and reactions to meanings that can occur in dialogues involving the use of one or more sign-systems. Discourse demarcates the universe where meaning can be understood, and where one can decide whether it is relevant and valid. When we no longer imagine nature to be a discursive universe — as did Emerson and Clare — where the Almighty speaks to us, the signs of nature are no longer signs in a common sign-system which enable a dialogue in which subjective intentions manifest themselves.

It is also used more loosely for jargonized speech, such as a sports journalist-type discourse, a student discourse. Discourse as a purely verbal phenomenon is a conversation which aims to convince someone by the choice of mode of expression. Other attempts than those based on linguistics have, however, been made to extend the analysis of signs in the direction of a discourse analysis. Although these traditions are often at loggerheads with each other, we wish to try to bridge the gap between them, especially as semiotics cannot be content with granting one system of expression the privilege of being its sole foundation.

We intend to stress that the traditions mentioned have two common points of orientation: Signs simply cannot avoid being organized in relation to a situation. Other sign-systems have other elements for this purpose. We call this analysis structuralist discourse analysis. Here it is emphasized that signs in use orientate the subjects in relation to each other in a possible dialogue and in relation to the world around them, long before there are conscious intentions to approach somebody about something in particular. We call this analysis phenomenological discourse analysis.

This analysis we call sociological discourse analysis.

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In the following section we intend to analyse each of these three types of discourse analysis in greater detail. It has been pointed out that this theory only dealt with — and was only able to deal with — the static sign-system, not language in use; only the particular state of language, not the historical changes of the sign-system; and only the sign-system as something arbitrary and immanent, i. It is, so to speak, predestined to go beyond the closed system, to enter into a situation. The sign is a material phenomenon in time and space, but in its material appearance it is to be understood as a process or an event — the sign does not only exist; it takes place.

It is both fact and act. The sign is structurally determined to be a discursive phenomenon. It is this more recent way of criticizing or extending structuralism which is relevant from a semiotic point of view. But how are time, space and subject organized in advance by the structure? Let us take an isolated quotation which we will then gradually place in its proper context: This is no night to throw a human being out inter. In any case, the sentence has a reference. The sign-system contains elements that structure in advance the way in which the utterance is anchored in a situation and thereby make the utterance a special type of event.

For this establishes a contrast with some other, more hospitable night which the speakers are assumed to be familiar with. The negation stresses that there is a person speaking who, here and now, while the speech act is taking place, already knows something about what is being spoken about. If we were to make these relations explicit, the utterance would almost become incomprehensible, even though its reference would be clear: Long before we know anything about certain subjects or concrete time and space, the language-system being used sees to it that the utterance is built up in such a way that we are forced to determine and concretize these conditions to be able to understand the utterance.

The language-system does so via certain elements which refer both to the reference of the utterance and to the 60 Discourse analysis: Such an action is called an enunciation. They place the reference in relation to the now of the enunciation. Precisely because they belong to the special language-system we know and use, there is no need to over-elucidate them. The elements in question indicate that it is not only in the nature of language to exceed its own boundaries, to refer to something, but that it always at the same time will integrate the reference into the actual action, whereby the reference is expressed in language.

This contemporaneity means that language cannot help being discursive. And the problem cannot be solved by our isolating the two aspects. Reference and enunciation are mutually dependent in the discursive process. Ever since the ancient grammarians, language researchers and language philosophers have speculated on these strange elements in language: But in a wider semiotic context, as we have seen, they belong to the group of indexical signs in the sub-group which Charles Sanders Peirce refers to as designations.

They establish a relation from signs to things, indicate that things can be localized which can be referred to because of the semiotic process itself, but they do not specify further what sort of things or where they are the second sub-group consists of the reagents, which indicate a causal relation between things and signs — the bird-song is caused by the bird, see Chapter 3, p.

We can either move from verbal to non-verbal sign-systems images, gestures, etc. A precondition for sign-systems being able to enter into discursive processes is that they contain elements that can link time, space and subject to the enunciation. Non-verbal sign-systems have their own special deictic elements and thus their own ways in which the necessary deictic functions are carried out.

Use of supplementary sign-systems, such as verbal language or sound, is often called for. Now the reader knows who is responsible for the utterance: And it also tells us that the present of his utterance refers to a present — the present of the older man at a certain point in time — which is encapsulated in a past which is past in relation to the now in which the narrator communicates to us readers. The special structuring of time, space and subject is not restricted to literature; it also organizes everyday-language communications about actual events.

So as a rule it is possible to keep a clear head, even when the chronological time of the narrated events is turned upside down in the well-known and far more complicated constructions of literary texts: Literature can provide a host of examples of such complex time relationships. But as long as we can determine the now of the enunciation as a zero point in the system of time and space coordinates, we are perfectly able to structure the phenomena. Yet verbal language can, as in the above quotation, insert direct speech in the present tense into the midst of a past situation and thereby make the reader contemporaneous with an earlier present in and with the present of the reading — and without that causing us to become confused.

Literary textual analysis links these conditions to the phenomena narrator and point of view. They are discursive instances that are to carry out a double function: In some presentations one seeks to draw a sharp distinction: In other presentations no distinction at all is made between narrator and point of view: For discursive analysis, it is the double function not the distinction which is the most important thing: In certain situations it becomes impossible to tell the narrator from the point of view; in others it is both possible and desirable.

In any case, both narrator and point of view can be manifested in the same textual elements. The distance to the events is zero, there is maximum credibility: The point of view in this case lies with one of the characters, the older man who says those words. In order to make up his mind about its content, purpose, range, etc. Narrator and point of view are one and the same instance. After the remark, the narrator proceeds in the past tense, thereby marking a greater distance to the events. In various, highly discreet ways the narrator underlines certain selected characteristics of the events referred to: His remark and his behaviour mirror each other.

Signs in Use: An Introduction to Semiotics

This interpretation is, however, not made explicit by a narrator. We interpret as though we were actually there. The narrator creates a minimum of distance to both characters and reader. All three are brought in under the same point of view. In the second version it becomes clear that it does not have to be like that. The narrator expresses no sympathy for the man, who perhaps is tired, but shows his own moral self-righteousness. So the reader has the possibility of adopting 64 Discourse analysis: Nevertheless, the point of view does not belong to a single person — but is located on a transpersonal level beyond the individual characters.

All sign-systems which at the same time can articulate a reference and an enunciation dimension and which can keep them separate from each other can create a discourse. Without the aid of such systems other sign-systems would not be able to create discourses. Sentence and discourse Even if we stay within the area of verbal language, a discourse analysis can nevertheless transcend linguistics. It is neither the sign, its component parts nor the sign-system that constitutes the linguistic model, but the combination of signs into a sequence.

Barthes is not the only person to see discourse as a special aspect of narration. The story is the sum of the narrated events in a chronological order, as if they took place in reality. The discourse, on the other hand, is — in this context — the sum of the ways in which the story is organized: This division corresponds exactly to the classical division between a logical and a linguistic analysis of the sentence: This emphasizing of the special holistic nature of the text is not linked to the individual sentence, but to more general narrative principles of composition, to transverse imagery, to the use of points of view and narrators, etc.

The work can have itself as its own object. We are here dealing with the problem of the division between discursive universes see later, p. X Barthes learns that language sequences from syllable to sentence are organized by two types of element which work simultaneously — the distributional and the integrative.

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They are ordered hierarchically, with the distributional superior to the integrative. The former ensures that the formal requirements of the language system are adhered to, and when the latter is added, form becomes meaning. This integration can be taken further, since this sign can now be an integrative element which conveys meaning at a higher level, e.

Seen from a formal point of view, this linguistic unit only consists of distributional elements, i.


  • Reflections;
  • Miracle?
  • Additional Information;

The compound can in turn be integrated into more comprehensive linguistic units, with the sentence marking the ultimate boundary. Let us begin by placing the remark of the older man in its right context before continuing with Barthes. The whole trilogy is a kaleidoscopic portrait of the USA from the turn of the century to the early s. Many of the characters appear in constantly changing contexts throughout all three volumes. The following long quotation with some omissions constitutes the textual basis to which we will return during the continued analysis of the concept of discourse in the rest of this chapter Dos Passos He was soaked and shivering when he went into the house himself, carrying a package of books under his arm.

Doc Bingham was sitting large as life in a rocking chair in front of the kitchen stove. Fainy saw that it was The Queen of the White Slaves. He put his foot on the dropped book. The scrawny woman started to say something, but it was too late. The old woman got to her feet and looked nervously at the door, which immediately opened. The old woman had hidden the pamphlet in the drawer of the kitchen table. Before they left the house the older man made them give up their matches. He wished he had someone his own age to talk to. Anyway, it was a job and he was on the road. He had barely got to sleep when a light woke him.

Furthermore, Barthes only operates with two levels in the hierarchy, not with a continued series, as does Benveniste. The elements of the course of secondary events, on the other hand, are called catalyses. There are several of them: Indices are elements which are not bound together by virtue of the story or which do not contribute to its cohesion, but which are linked at a level above the actual narrative linking: The nature of the indices proper is often implicit, while items of information are normally explicit.

We are provided with information about the furniture and equipment of the kitchen, the appearance of the older man, the wind and weather, the nervousness of the women, etc. The items of information are identical with content at sentence level, which is the prime concern of linguists. These textual elements can be seen as indices proper, i. The fundamental discursive distinctiveness of a text is for Barthes characterized by the relation between the functions and the indices.

Texts where functions dominate over indices stress the course of events — folktales, for example. If, however, we meet a lot of catalyses and the elements of the text thereby become parataxical and loosely linked, we are looking at impressionistic texts, such as, for example, the stories of Guy de Maupassant.

If, on the other hand, the indices are given the greatest say, we are looking at texts where a state of mind, an ideological message, or something similar is of greater importance than the course of events, such as, for example, in an allegory or a psychological portrait. Barthes retains the same basic idea that we know from the analysis of enunciation: The sign-system has its enunciation-markers, while the narrative structure has its indices. It is these characteristics that discursive analysis seizes on in order to understand what it means to say that form creates meaning.

Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy which emphasizes the role intentionality and subjectivity play in discourse. Language is of course an important factor here too, but not as a special sign-system or an oral or written mode of expression — rather as a dynamic part of the process that channels intentionality and subjectivity.

And that process is seldom dealt with by traditional linguistic categories in phonetics and grammar. That cannot fail to attract semioticians. In concrete language usage there are certain rules concerning cohesion between the realized sign-elements: But what sort of logic is involved in our preferring certain of the possibilities of the system rather than others, and certain language sequence structures rather than others?

Unlike system and usage, discourse is not limited to particular natural languages; it is an order which cuts across the individual language-systems and usages, giving them an identity as precisely language phenomena, as opposed to every other conceivable type of system or usage games, mathematical language, etc. This means that each and every language usage is an extension of another one — it comments on it, reinterprets it, expands it, reacts towards it.

Even when we say that we are going to start again from the beginning, we do not go back — we repeat what we have said at a new point in the stream of speech. We do not begin from the beginning, we continue to move forwards. Materially speaking, a sentence begins at a certain point, but logically it adds to innumerable previous sentences — and that is actually why it is capable of being understood.

Discourse ensures that elements which cannot be used to say anything disappear from the system, even though they are logical and possible, and that sentence constructions which are formally correct but unintelligible are not put to use. Intentionality, in other words, ensures that language grows together with subjectivity and consciousness. Let us take another look at the old man in the chair: Language calls upon a pre-existing knowledge or action in relation to that we are hearing or reading.

That is how irreversibility works: Will they be thrown out, do they decide to leave for themselves, or do they stay indoors? And which of these and other possible meanings are important? No matter what its form, the utterance cannot avoid pointing at one or more matters which are — or are to be — made more precise. That is its intentionality. It is not just a question of some meaning or other Discourse analysis: There is a subjective consciousness which conveys that there is one particular area of meaning that is most relevant.

For we are looking at a communication from someone to some others about a more exactly demarcated subject-matter. The important thing is that without attention being brought to the fact that there is a subjective consciousness involved, the discursive logic would never be able to bring the language process to a conclusion — for in principle it can go on for ever, with one sentence following on the other and attention constantly being directed towards something new.

From this point one can begin again. This means that the discursive order in the principle makes all utterances potential dialogues: The older man, however, does not have to exert himself any further. Without further ado, Fainy and Doc Bingham take their chance with the barn. If linguistics is too narrow for semiotics, then phenomenology as a whole turns out to be too comprehensive.

Based on an analysis of the way in which the world and phenomena appear to consciousness in the immediate experience, this branch of philosophy seeks to break through to a cognition of what things are. How can we understand things so that their immediate appearance to us refers to what they really are, even though we only know them as they appear to us, i. A consciousness which is not a consciousness about something is no consciousness at all. If sense perception has not supplied any sense-impressions, consciousness will therefore imagine them for itself — via language, poetry, dreams, dancing, etc.

In other words, consciousness constantly creates signs for the things it addresses. Our relationship to the things which appear to us is thus permeated by subjectivity. They are things in our world. But signs have to be intelligible, i. This is why verbal language is so important a sign-system: Intersubjectivity and dialogue are, however, not enough to be able to ascertain whether our knowledge is correct. They are only means to make precise what we could consider investigating the correctness of.

We must treat with caution the phenomenological project of constructing signs by means of which consciousness can get behind both the signs which things are for us primarily indexical signs and the signs we construct ourselves primarily symbolical signs. For we are not able to wrench ourselves out of verbal language and thereby out of the elements that the analysis of enunciation focuses on: That intentionality does not only mean an individual intention, as in the case of the older man, is fairly evident.

Doc Bingham is oriented towards hunger, rest and a quick buck; the women towards the reading of books and fear of the older man; the boy towards a little forbidden pornography; the older man towards ridding himself of the nuisance of the strangers. They all orient their consciousness towards a point of balance, where they both reveal themselves and at the same time conceal something of themselves from the others: Even those who attempt to retire into silence or the dark — or who would most like to do so — are involved, since no consciousness can shut itself in and avoid being oriented towards something, long before it becomes something particular.

Such a general intentionality that cuts across persons and groups is a prerequisite for being able to perceive that oneself and others are present at all. Therefore we can, for example, talk about the presence of a narrative consciousness in a text, even though we cannot put a name to this narrator. Those present convert intentionality into a semiotic process: By means of this, general intentionality is able to become directed towards something particular with a point of departure in a subject. This is discursive intentionality.

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Even though the characters all help to make the intentionality discursive in a semiotic process, they do not do so in the same way. Specifying intentionality makes precise the meanings which map out the surrounding world. The semiotician tends to be more concrete and look at the situation or type of situation in which the meanings come into existence.

For this situation imposes some important conditions for how the meaning of the specifying intentionality is to be understood. In the quotation we are gathered round a kitchen table, not in a sauna; we are on a farm, not climbing a mountain; we are in a space where residents and vagrants meet, etc. Situational intentionality is one way of referring to it. Some utterances — verbal as well as non-verbal — can be linked to particular individuals who consciously choose to express themselves in a particular way, with a particular intention: But this individual intentionality never stands alone.

It is also within the framework of certain common conditions for what can be understood and accepted in the particular situation. The women choose to remain silent about the slightly more generous hospitality they have implied by serving food and buying books, and by suggesting that only the horses be housed in the barn. Individual intentionality can, however, never fully control what is said: In discourse the line linking the semiotic system and the semiotic usage on which the linguistic point of view focuses intersects, as does the line linking intentionality and the speech act, which is in the forefront of a phenomenological consideration see Figure 4.

The speech act is our next topic. Speech act Many utterances in the long quotation on pp. Others invite practical actions to be undertaken: This utterance may be an assertion about a fact, i. But it may also be a way of calling the religious writings trash simply by the utterance being made — they are herewith called trash. Lastly, the utterance may be a call to throw them into the stove. None of these three types is bound to special language expressions, but all three are linked to a particular function. So there is nothing to prevent non-verbal sign-systems from carrying out these functions: For this reason, it is impossible to uphold a clear-cut division between utterances that are actions and others that are not.

If an action is a material process that can be referred back to a subject with an intention, a demonstrating utterance is also an action. It is the narrator — but it is still a question of the marking of a subjective intention. All three types of utterance become acts, so-called speech acts. The analysis of speech acts comprises in the widest sense the formation of meaning which takes place in human dialogue, its validity and its basis and purpose.

Analysis of speech acts arose as a consequence of the recognition that the utterances in which signs refer to objects and facts cannot at any time — as was believed in classical logic — be detached from the situation in which they are uttered and the dialogic structure they have. So how can one determine the conditions for the validity of utterances? In this wide perspective the analysis of the speech act in semiotics belongs together with the account of the concept of text see Chapter 6, p. The English linguistic philosopher J.

Austin claims that all utterances are speech acts, or locutionary acts, which contain a subjective intention Austin The next, the perlocutionary, point to actions that will take place in continuation of the utterance. And the last, the illocutionary, deal with what is taking place here and now while speaking is going on. So we have three types of speech act: They have an interlocutionary force through their anchoring in a subject of enunciation and in the now of the enunciation.

For him it is more important to look not at their illocutionary force but at their illocutionary aim: All utterances are structured with a view to a possible dialogue on the basis of an enunciation. Even though the speech act is an act among other acts and one which is not bound by particular grammatical forms or particular systems of expression, it is not identical with any act whatsoever, nor does it include all types of communication.

At the same time, it is an act in which the participants have the possibility of criticizing the conditions for the validity of this consensus Honneth and Jonas There have to be subjective intentions involved which — possibly under compulsion — express themselves in the common striving to understand or accept the message.

Discourse is dialogue that is anchored in a situation. Communicative action is a discursive process. For that purpose, the linguist Oswald Ducrot Ducrot and the linguistic philosopher H. Grice operates with three elements in the dialogue: Grice lists at this point the conditions that seek to establish clarity in the dialogue: But it worked nevertheless. The utterance is seen as part of a speech act and is linked to a subjective intention — to want to express something. The conventional implicit understandings elucidate the potential meanings and possible ambiguities that the given semiotic system permits.

They cannot be chosen, but belong to the utterance in the form they happen to have. The situational preconditions indicate the common rules according to which the dialogue is controlled by those taking part. On the basis of this the speaker can choose between the possibilities that the conventional implicit understandings have placed at his or her disposal, and to follow the 78 Discourse analysis: When deciding which meanings are the most correct, or which is the only correct one, one has to include the situational implicit understandings.

In other words, there is an ambiguous power relationship between the implicated parties. The farmer retains the role of host, asserting his formal right to decide things in his own house and to decide who and what may be in it, while not being directly inhospitable: He observes two non-conventional rules determined by the given situation: During his entire visit he has been polite in order to demand that which he does not have a right to, but he uses a kick to have the services carried out by Fainy.

Is he carrying out something which is analogous to a speech act? He expresses himself non-verbally in a way that clearly functions successfully as a directive: Fainy does in fact return with the right books. But Bingham violates no less than several situationally determined preconditions for dialogue.

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