Sunday, February 8, 2009

Symbols and Signs

There are many ways of communicating without speech. Signals, signs, symbols and gestures may be found in every known culture. The basic function of a signal is to impinge upon the environment in such a way that it attracts attention, as for example, the dots and dashes of a telegraph circuit. While less acceptable to the codification of words, signs contain greater meaning in and of themselves. A stop sign or a barber pole conveys meaning quickly and conveniently. Symbols are more difficult to describe than either signals or signs because of their intricate relationship with the receiver’s cultural perceptions. In some cultures applauding in a theatre provides performers with an auditory symbol of approval. Gestures such as waving and hand shaking also communicate certain cultural messages.