Semiotics, Semiology

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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Semiotics is the study of signs and is concerned with interrogating semiosis, the actions of signs. Generally, signs are conceived only as inanimate objects that are used for sending messages. However, semiosis occurs in many different ways and in places where signs are not normally apparent to humans, for example in the transmission of information inside biological cells by DNA and other chemical transmitters. The sign in human semiosis, although frequently treated as an inanimate entity, is strictly the sign


someone. Put another way, signs only exist because an organism, or part of an organism, perceives them as significant. As Morris famously declared, semiosis is a “process in which something is a sign to some organism” (1938: 366). As long as something acts

as a sign

, then it

2466 words

Citation: Cobley, Paul. "Semiotics, Semiology". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 December 2004 [, accessed 16 July 2024.]

1001 Semiotics, Semiology 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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