Words that I needed to define

The following definitions of the symbol/index/icon triad are interpreted from Charles Sanders Pierce’s analysis and Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Symbol: Something that stands for something else. A symbol has a convention-based relationship with object it signifies [alphanumeric symbols]

Index: Something that leads to one particular fact or conclusion. An index is directly influenced by an object [weathervane, thermometer]
           -Can be further broken down into tracks [pawprints], symptoms [fever], or designations [pointed finger]

Icon: A pictorial representation. An icon has specific properties in common with objects [portraits, diagrams]
          -Can be further broken down into image, metaphor [representing a parallelism in something else] and diagram [subway map is a diagram of the actual subway]

More words I’m compelled to define before I have one more conversation about my thesis.

Convention: A usage or custom especially in social matters; a rule of conduct or behavior; an established technique, practice or device.

Semiotics: A general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages.
           -Comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics

               –Syntactics: Formal relations between signs or expressions in abstraction from their signification and their interpreters. Syntax is concerned with structure in a sentence.

               –Semantics: The study of meanings. Semantics is concerned with meaning to a sentence.
                  -connotative: to imply [usually more emotional associations]
                  -denotative: to indicate [usually to describe in a more literal way]

               –Pragmatics: The relation between signs or linguistic expressions and their users and the environment in which they occur.

Legibility: Refers to how easily one letter can be distinguished from another.

Readability: Refers to the relative ease with which a typeface can be read when characters are laid out in works, sentences, and paragraphs. [thank you Edvin Yegir – my thesis advisor – for clarifying that for me]

And more words I had to define after reading Jan van Toorn’s essay “A Passion for the Real”.

Dialectic: The discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation.

Dialogic: Of, relating to or characterized by dialogue.

Didactic: Designed or intended to teach.

Polemic: An agressive attack on the opinions of another; an aggressive controversialist.

Polyphonic: Relating to a style of musical composition employing two or more simultaneous but relatively independent melodic lines.

Side note: While I was working on this I was reminded of a project my friend Betsy did. She took the actual pages of the dictionary and removed all unnecessary content with a black marker from the definitions she needed. When I was looking these words up I realized how much superfluous language there is in dictionary definitions, and you have to really dig and reinterpret in order to make sense of it all.

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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