Signal, signification, and sign by Ferdinand de Saussure

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Signal, meaning and sign are definitions that have been developed by Ferdinand de Saussure. These ideas belong to the school of thought known as structuralism, and Saussure's views are modified in the manner in which the study of modern language and general language is undertaken. The study of modern language was also adopted, and Saussure's theory also inspired other topics and disciplines, such as history, literary criticism and sociology, being the areas most influenced by this theory. The primary component of structuralism as presented by Saussure is the human life; he argues that signs or languages are not intelligible unless they are affected by their relationships and network, this makes the sign and the structure or system in which it is found be the most important concepts of the theory (Sacks, 1993). A sign or a word from a given language finds meaning when a relationship is drawn from its system or surrounding, and meaning can also be found when the sign is contrasted with the other signs that are found on the system's signs.

The signal, signification, and sign are forms of nonvocal communication, and they are related components. The components are found in almost every culture, and different scholars have been studying them, the reason for the attention that has been drawn from the scholarly world is because of the way they are related to the conception of the language and the words. However, the relationship between these components is not outlined. Hence the studies try to find out how they are related. The conception of language and the use of signs, signals, and signification have different complex structures and modifications. From the time that they were developed, changes have been made to them making them more complex and complicated to understand or use. The theory by Saussure holds the same thought that these components are nonvocal. According to him, the sound of the sign is the signifier, and the notion of the sign is the signified. He says that the link between these components allows the creation of the idea of sound and the ideas that one develops. Use of signs does not involve any phonics; it also does not have any thoughts or sounds. Al the properties of signs are not concrete, and they are all abstract, signs only link concepts to a sound pattern but not an object to any name.

The sound patterns have a psychological nature that is only clear when we are considering our linguistic activities. It is possible for one to talk to himself without moving his or her lips or the tongue. The words of a particular language are grasped because of the sound patterns, because of this, it is not advisable to refer to sounds as speech sounds. Using such a term to see to sounds can imply the involvement of vocal apparatus in the sound patterns. Using it can only be applied when the use of the spoken word is applicable. The sounds or syllables of words do not need to lead to any confusions. However, this can only be applied to sound patterns that are relevant to the environment that they are used in. According to Saussure, the linguistic sign is an entity that is psychological, and it is two-sided. The sides of the linguistic sign are a sound pattern and the concept. When an individual can understand the sound patterns used in a particular context, it is possible for him or her to form a conception of the mind about the idea that one is signaling about.

These two elements; the concept and the sound pattern are related to each other, and one of them is triggered by the other. Whenever individuals seek the meaning of a particular word or object, the only relevant connexions that appear are those that are institutionalized by the language that they are using (De Saussure, 2011). The linguistic sign is a combination of a sound pattern and a concept. In the current context, the term linguistic sign only refers to the sound patterns only. But the ambiguity that surrounds the use of this term can be solved by understanding the words signification and signal. These words can easily be defined, and when one is using them, he or she can use them to distinguish the concept and sound patterns. Two characteristics can be used in specifying the linguistic sign. The features include; the sign is arbitrary which is the first principle and the linear character of the policy which is the second sign.

From the first principle, the signification and signals have arbitrary links between them. This is because a sign is treated as a combination of an association of signals and signification. For instance, one cannot find an internal connexion between the idea of the word sister and the sounds of the word in French, sor. In this case, the sequence of the sound sor, in this case, acts as the signal, it is also possible that this same idea can be represented by a different set of sound. This difference is likely because of the availability of many different languages and the differences that exist between these words (Berger, 2003). The signification of an idea can have various signals in the different words that exist. Because symbols are not entirely arbitrary, it is not advisable to use the term symbol to refer to linguistic symbols. There are also some objections to the linguistic sign being arbitrary. These complaints are based on the fact that the words being used might be onomatopoeic or some of the sound sequences that are used as exclamations.

The linear characteristic of a signal states that the sound sequence may have some aspects of auditory features. These aural elements lead to the formation of temporal features. The attributes include; the occupation of a temporary aural space, and that space is measured in one dimension which is a straight line. This is a fundamental principle of the linguistic sign as the mechanism and structure of sign, signification and signal depend on it. However, it is not easy to identify this policy when it is used. For instance, if some individual stresses a specific variable while making a sound sequence it will look like the individual is emphasizing a significant feature. However, this can be just an illusion, this syllable and the stress that is put on it might only mean a single phonation act. Various contrasts may be used with this principle although no duality is found within this action.

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