Theory of Sign Essay

Theory of Sign Essay

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To understand how sign functions, semiosis, Morris proposes four elements: Sign vehicle (S), Designatum (D), and Interpretant and interpreter (I). "The mediators are sign vehicles; the taking-account-of are interpretants; the agents of the process are interpreters; what is taken account of are designata" (Morris, 19). Those elements of semiosis become the foundation of branches of linguistics and basic elements of language. The branches of linguistics are semantics is the study of sign in its relation to designatum, pragmatics the study of sign in relation to interpreter, and syntactics the study of sign in relation to other signs. Since language, according to Morris, is “a system of interconnected signs,” a language must consist of the four elements as he implies in his formula: L= Lsyn + Lsem + Lp (see Morris, 25). However, we might observe that Morris’s definition of language apparently falls into the category of syntactical element. Another objection might be is that by extending the four semiosis elements into linguistics and language, Morris’s definition of sign will be problematic since all objects that are symbolically and linguistically associated with other objects are defined as signs. Therefore one might observe the discrepancy of his definition of sign with examples that he proposes as Lesse demonstrates (see article). Since this paper is aimed at demonstrating my understanding on Morris’ theory of sign, I will describe the problematic aspects of Morris’s arguments if they becomes obstacles for me understand his theory.
Morris argues that the object of semiotic does not deal with particular object, but association of four of them, therefore sign is characterized as: “S is a sign of D for I to the degree that I take...


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...tures of particular objects that universal signs refer to -- as a formalist-behaviorist, Morris is unconcerned with mental images since they do not emerge in the relational properties of sign. Describing signs functions in semantic context and universal sign in syntactical context. In contrast, indexical signs are located in syntax; unless we understand that to be meaningful the act of directionality must contain an object, then they are in the realm of semantics.
All syntactical relations of signs are subjected to rules. Morris proposes two rules: formation and transformation. Formation rules govern formation of kernel sentences, and transformation rules derivative sentences (Morris, 29). Based on the syntactical rules, Morris suggests the object of syntax is syntactical relations between signs: “[the relations] determined by syntactical rules” (Morris, 29).

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Essay about Theory of Sign

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