Semiotics in Modern Society

Hey there all my FreeTraders,

Something that’s really interested me lately is the study of semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and meaning. Signs take up all shapes and sizes. Stop signs, emojis, memes, accepted cultural terminology. Have you ever thought about why a sign holds meaning? The word chair, the written word chair, is a symbol for an object. If you think of a chair you may imagine something like a dining chair, another person may imagine an overstuffed armchair. One symbol can hold a duality of meanings.

It would be so easy to just say that signs are culturally accepted, based off of location. But what about universal signs? Psychologically there are certain things out brains identify with. Certain colors which emit certain signals. Red means stop, green means go. Although a certain amount of this comes down to conditioning, is there an element of nature to it? We all know that certain symbols hold power. There’s no denying that. I’m interested at understanding the source.

Let’s take a look at this chart of symbols, and their progression over time from symbols found in cave art through to cuneiform.


These images aren’t only based locally, in small clusters, they’re found spread over large areas. Groups which were geographically distant were utilizing the same series of symbols. So you’re sitting there and you think to yourself, yeah, sure, they saw a duck so they drew a duck. But it’s not that simple. Who decided one day that they were going to pick up a stick, and create a graphic representation of a thing, in order to communicate its existence with another human?

These are the big questions we need to get at people. If you’re interested in learning more about semiotics and meaning, check out the work of Charles Morris.

Until next time.

xoxo cravingsunshine

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2 Replies to “Semiotics in Modern Society”

  1. Language Deprivation Experiments

    Ancient records suggest that this kind of experiment was carried out from time to time. An early record of an experiment of this kind can be found in Herodotus’s Histories. According to Herodotus, the Egyptian pharaoh Psamtik I carried out such an experiment, and concluded the Phrygian race must predate the Egyptians since the child had first spoken something similar to the Phrygian word bekos, meaning “bread”.[2] However, it is likely that this was a willful interpretation of their babbling.[3][4]

    An alleged experiment carried out by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century saw young infants raised without human interaction in an attempt to determine if there was a natural language that they might demonstrate once their voices matured. It is claimed he was seeking to discover what language would have been imparted unto Adam and Eve by God.

    The experiments were recorded by the monk Salimbene di Adam in his Chronicles, who wrote that Frederick encouraged “foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no ways to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which he took to have been the first), or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments.”[5]

    Several centuries after Frederick II’s experiment, James IV of Scotland was said to have sent two children to be raised by a mute woman isolated on the island of Inchkeith, to determine if language was learned or innate.[6] The children were reported to have spoken good Hebrew, but historians were sceptical of these claims soon after they were made.[7][8] This experiment was later repeated by the Mughal emperor Akbar, who held that speech arose from hearing, thus children raised without hearing human speech would become mute.[9]

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