Authored by: Marcel Danesi

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry deals with the main goals, theories, concepts, and practices of semiotics, as a science of meaning. Based on the fundamental notion of sign—anything that has the capacity to stand for something else (real or imagined)—semiotics has a long history behind it that overlaps with those of philosophy and language study. The main notions that undergird the practice of semiotics are examined closely here. These include denotation, connotation, opposition, text, code, and structure. Denotation is the intensional meaning assigned to a sign, while connotation refers to the extensional meanings it gains through usage. Opposition is the technique of sifting out minimal differences in meaning among signs so as to extrapolate an overall meaning structure from them. A text is a form constructed with signs in a structured fashion in order to convey some message; it includes verbal forms (such as books, conversations, etc.) and nonverbal forms (such as body language, paintings, etc.). Codes are the systems that organize the meanings that signs bear in social contexts (language, music, etc.), and structure is the notion that signs bear a patterned relation with each other and that it is through this very relation that they bear meaning.

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