chapter  3
19 Pages


Semiotics, simply defined, is the science of signs; how they work and the ways in which we use them. Semiology is another word for the same science, and currently each is used by different authorities with much the same meaning. We shall use semiotics, though semiology will appear in some of our quotations. The lack of agreement on terms by its main practitioners is symptomatic of the youth of semiotics as a discipline, and of its lack of a common origin. The need for such a science was predicted both by the Swiss linguist Saussure (1974), with whose work the term semiology is associated, and by the American philosopher Pierce (1931-58), who coined the term semiotics. Subsequent writers have developed their work with an increasing proliferation of terms; a much tangled growth which one can begin to unravel by referring to a companion volume in the New Accents series, Hawkes’s Structuralism and Semiotics (1977).