Linguistic Sign

Sign, Linguistic


any unit of language (morpheme, word, phrase, or sentence) used to designate objects or phenomena of reality. Linguistic signs are bilateral; they consist of a signifier, made up of speech sounds (more precisely, phonemes), and a signified, created by the linguistic sign’s sense content. The relationship between the aspects of a sign is an arbitrary one, since the selection of a sound form does not usually depend on the properties of the designated object. The peculiarity of the linguistic sign is its asymmetricality, that is, the capacity of one signifier to convey various meanings (polysemy or homonymy) and the tendency of the signified to be expressed by various signifiers (heterophony or homosemy). The asymmetry of the structure of the linguistic sign determines the language’s capacity for development.

Linguistic signs are sometimes subdivided into complete and partial signs. A complete sign implies an utterance, usually a sentence, directly related to the designated situation (the referent or denotatum of the linguistic sign). A partial linguistic sign is a word or morpheme that is actualized only as part of a complete sign. The existence in a language of partial signs of various degrees of complexity, as well as the divisibility of the signifier and signified of the simplest sign into unilateral (nonsign) units of content (components of meaning) and expression (phonemes), ensure the economy of the linguistic system, permitting the creation of an infinitely large number of communications from a finite number of simple units.


Saussure, F. de. Kurs obshchei lingvistiki. Moscow, 1933. (Translated from French.)
Kartsevskii, S. “Ob asimmetrichnom dualizme lingvisticheskogo znaka.” In V. A. Zvegintsev, Istoriia iazykoznaniia XIX-XX vekov v ocherkakh i izvlecheniiakh, part 2. Moscow, 1965.
lakobson, R. “V poiskakh sushchnosti iazyka.” In Sbornik perevodov po voprosam informalsionnoi teorii i praktiki, issue 16. Moscow, 1970.
Obshchee iazykoznanie, ch. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Materialy k konferentsii “lazyk kak znakovaia sistema osobogo roda.” Moscow, 1967.


References in periodicals archive ?
A translation, as a linguistic sign, is founded on the social interplay between its interpreter and the novel boundary of implicit and actual circumstances of verbalization.
Thus the essential notion in linguistic sign analysis is difference relation.
For Abel, the use of gesture is to introduce differences in linguistic sign from an element which is foreign from the language.
Another approach in the volume placed in the field of linguistics is the fourteenth paper of the volume, by Eulalio Fernandez Sanchez, which advocates a multidisciplinary approach to the nature of the linguistic sign.
The analysis of a linguistic sign from this post-generativist perspective took into account both contextual and cotextual issues, which foreshadowed a change in the study and teaching of languages.
Gans traces the origin of appropriation and linguistic sign in terms of Generative Anthropology that the `aborted gesture of appropriation becomes the originally sign.
Derrida points to the fact that no linguistic sign evades the freeplay of language, and there is not any single sign which happens to be pure and unmediated, which invalidates the concept of origin: "In this play of representation, the point of origin becomes ungraspable.
The linguistic sign is characterized by its abstractness and serves to highlight and summarize different themes, while image is typical of concreteness and functions to impress audiences with vivid scenes.
Consequently, it omits some of the most central (and still contentious) aspects of his work on language (the speculative sentence, the role of language in recognition, the relationship between grammar and logic, the tension between philosophy and its linguistic expression, the nature of the linguistic sign and its links with representation, imagination and memory, etc.
Consider, for example the following linguistic sign in the advertisement: 'Everything you value is our highest priority'.
Three major types of meaning that constitute the semantics of a linguistic sign (referential, pragmatic and inner linguistic meaning) are defined in linguistic literature.
Goebel thus avoids generalizing about linguistic sign exchange based on gender, age, or status, and instead argues that we need to pay attention to people's 'particular trajectories of socialization' (or the connections across events and circulating resources that shape identification).