Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Reading Signs #2: Language Barrier?
Assuming that you don't understand the words written underneath the sign, can you still make out what the sign means? If you do, then it is a good sign.
By definition, sign is a token that signifies an entity outside itself. There are two kinds of signs: natural and conventional. A natural sign bears a causal relationship between the signified and the signifier, e.g. the image of a lightning for the natural phenomenon of the same. A conventional sign, on the other hand, works on the basis of a convention or agreement made among its users, for example punctuation marks or the (traffic) stop sign. Furthermore, a sign may be both natural and conventional. The example for the this is the no smoking sign.
Sign is not the same as symbol, which is commonly defined as something that represents something else by resemblance, association, or convention. A symbol is usually a tangible representation of something abstract - flag as a symbol of a nation, for example. In this way, language (word) is considered as a symbol rather than a sign because the relationship between the signifier (i.e. the word) and the signified (i.e. the concept) is conventional.
What does the sign in the above photo signify? I'll let you tell, and see if it is a good sign without the words accompanying it.
I took the photograph in the same premises of the one I posted yesterday, i.e. Bandung Electronic Center (BEC).