# Semiotics

The next step towards a theory of what FOA language game might mean involves SEMIOTICS ,the subfield of linguistics centrally concerned with the ability of signs to convey meaning. Dating back at least to the American pragmatist philosopher C.S. Peirce and the French linguist Saussure, semiotics is now often associated with Umberto Echo (most famous for his popular novel {\bf Name of the Rose}). David Blair has written an excellent overview of the field [REF704] .

In order to get away from using words as the communicative signs, semioticists often use other symbols, such as the {rose} shown in Figure (figure) . In brief, semiotic theory imagines meaning being trapped by the triad of signifier, signified, and sign. Hawkes (quoted from Blair) uses a gift of roses as an example of how meaning can be conveyed: ...a bunch of roses can be used to signify passion. When it does so, the bunch of roses is the signifier, the passion the signified. The relation between the two (the associative total) produces the third term, the bunch of roses as a sign. And, as a sign it is important to understand that the bunch of roses is quite a different thing from the bunch of roses as a signifier, that is, as a horticultural entity. As a signifier. the bunch of roses is empty, as a sign it is full. What has filled it (with signification) is a combination of my intent and the nature of society's conventional modes and channels which offer me a range of vehicles for the purpose. The range is extensive, but conventionalized and so finite, and it offers a complex system of ways of signing. [Hawkes77] [Quoted from Blair, [REF704] ] That is, in a successful communicative act, the sign of roses successfully unites what the signifier was trying to express with what the receiving listener thinks they are pointing at, i.e., the content of the sign.

Figure (figure) applies this analysis to the case when a mediating search.engine stands between linguistic sign users. When a keyword like MPI is used as part of a query by a user intent on the features of the MESSAGE PASSING INTERFACE (a communication standard used by parallel computers and language compilers), it is confounded with documents authored by people who use MPI to mean MULTI-PERSPECTIVE INTERACTIVE (video). The same signifier MPI points to two different significations. If a specialist in PARALLEL COMPUTING has MULTIMEDIA VIDEO documents returned by the search engine, the communication of a unitifying sign has not been accomplished.

FOA © R. K. Belew - 00-09-21