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The system of implicitly and explicitly agreed-on signs within a community by which meaning is made. Semiotics is derived from the Greek semeioun, meaning “to interpret as a sign.” It came to acquire its current meaning in the late 19th and 20th centuries with the work of the American logician, philosopher, and mathematician Charles Sanders Peirce and the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. The sign proper is conventional, not natural; that is, its meaning is determined by a society's implicit or explicit agreement to assign a certain hermeneutic value to a thing. Colors, gestures, objects, and all phenomena thus behave like languages, shifting their meaning across time and place and according to context. Semiotics collapses the division between the study of language proper and ...

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