Semiotics and Agreement

“There are three main areas which form what we understand as semiotics; the signs themselves, the way they are organized into systems and the context in which they appear” (Visual Signs, Crow).


Dog. Cone. Two separate words that don’t really relate to each other.

Dog + cone = dog that just had surgery.


These two images take on a whole different meaning when combined with each other. The image of the cone alone is somewhat hard to make sense of. When the dog is wearing the cone, we know exactly the meaning of the cone.

The fuzzy Shetland sheepdog pictured above just happens to be my pride and joy, Cody. When I hear the word “dog,” I immediately picture his sweet face. As much as I would like to think my doggie warms the hearts of all, I am sure he is not the image that comes to mind for everyone. Your childhood dog, the neighbor dog that attacks you every morning run, your grandma’s slobbering old dog…all very different images conjured from one word.

Agreement is “a necessary component amongst a group of people that one thing will stand for another” (Visual Signs, Crow). But what happens when two groups of people disagree? My family may think of Cody when they hear the word “dog,” but my former roommate and her family may think of Lexie when they hear dog.


Non-agreement on the surface can be negative. It can lead to misinterpretation, misunderstanding and a myriad of other communication problems. But is it always negative? I don’t think it is. Non-agreement of semiotics can be a springboard for learning. I would venture to say that it is the basis for all learning. Imagine a kindergarten teacher in her classroom. In essence, she is merely bringing her students in agreement that one thing (a word perhaps) will stand for another (the object). Non-agreement of cultural cues can lead to an understanding of a different ethnicity or society. It can assist in learning a new language or a new dance style. Striving for agreement can open endless possibilities for education.


One thought on “Semiotics and Agreement

  1. Courtney says:

    I love my doggie Lexie! I am so proud she made the BLOG! Yippee!

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