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Katya Mandoki :
Re: towards a unified terminology;
Tue, 11 Jun 1996 15:30:08 -0600

I am glad Steve, Esa, Malin, Terry and Don have agreed to join.
I am no less skeptical about a possibility of arriving to a unified
terminology for obvious reasons any semio/ist has clear:  terms never
function in isolation of frames, and our main
 problem is an adjustment of frames, rather than terms, which I believe is
next to impossible. Next to... (still only "next"). I cling to this minute
open gap that may still allow for some hope. Even if it sounds childish.

As Steve has pointed out,
 precisely this forum as a means of collective work may trigger some hope.
It enables us more than just commenting or building after/ through others'
propositions, but really weaving together each step in detail.
 Due to the variety of positions held in this list, we could come out with
a consensual new frame.  One of the original problems in our field is
theorists have worked in relative isolation. Terry Prewitt is right that
semiology is different from semiotics as a whole. I hope Terry can begin a
thread with his conclusions on this logy/tics inconmensurablity
(hopingly less biased then Deely's).  If
Saussure and Peirce would have met and discussed their ideas, we would
have had a much stronger start. Our corpus is made of individual attempts
of formulation, each one inventing their own terms. We cannot afford that
anymore.

 There is nothing original in this attempt except from it being
presented in this forum, with the unique and new possibilites it offers
for collective effort.  There are many valuable attempts for synthesis:
Umberto Eco and Roland Barthes for example.  One of the first ones, which
unfortunately ignored Saussure, was Charles Morris _Foundations of the
Theory of Signs_. Morris was under the exact same inspiration of unifying
theory, albeit more ambitiously, as it was no less than a unification of
science. Yet I think his concept of three dimensions still holds as a
major step in founding common ground. I would suggest
 to begin from there. It seems it pretty clear cut, well developed,
univocal, relatively unproblematic as far as terminology goes (I am ONLY
refering to the three dimensions, not to designatum/denotatum
interpretant/interpreter et al).

As Steve says: we will not loose
anything by trying.  If we manage to arrive to a set of common tools, it
was certainly worth the effort. If we arrive to the conclusion that it is
impossible, we will at least trace more distinctly our main obstacles.
Whatever the conclusion may be, I am sure it will be worth sharing it in a
broader scope at Guadalajara.

Enough of rhetorics. Let's work. Don suggests we should start with SIGN.
I had the idea that exactly SIGN is
where we should end, because it is the thorniest of all, but maybe not.
How should we proceed: from the general to the particular (say the three
dimensions of semiosis in Morris terms or with Terry's
semiology/semiotics) or viceversa, beginning from sign as Don suggests? Or
should we work both ways, back and forth?  Or perhaps open various
simultaneous threads with specific subjects and keep them thus divided and
open so they each develop on their own pace?  Steve's proposal to
distinguish:
        1- Terms that really are synonyms
        2- Terms that seem like synonyms but carry imnplications that are
disimilar.
        3- Groups of terms that are in family resemblance to each other as
categories, despite triggering varietal denotations and connotations.

Sounds like a good start. I would add a fourth one:
        4- Terms that are missing in other frames, such as Peirce's
indexicals.  and Hjemslev's strata.

Following Steve's second suggestion
concerning clusters of terms, there's Barthes' attempt of synthesis in
_Elements of of Semiology_.  The problem is that he compares Jung, Hegel,
Wallon and Peirce's terminology, the three former not particularly relevant
to contemporary semio/*, instead of comparing what he knew better: Hjemslev,
Saussure and Peirce. He does it, in a way, with the two former, but we
may discuss these distictions later.
------------------------------------------------
signal  index  icon  symbol  sign  allegory
-----------------------------------------------
 On Malin's suggestion, I don't believe that a simple comparative table is
possible. Barthes attempted one, as the above, and I don't find it
particularly useful.  I think we have to go much deeper. It is an
inevitable, point of departure, but few will be surprised to find it just
covers a can of worms we will must have to open.  So for the sake of
keeping better track, I would suggest, as this list has other interests
and functions as well, that we keep TUT in the subject of posts related to
this discussion (like King TUT, except ours means "Towards a Unified
Terminology", TUT is easy enough to remember) and add a sub-suject of each
of the threads a post is following.  Perhaps could start a TUT:semiology
vs semiotics thread, another TUT:SIGN,  plus TUT: 1. real synonyms, and
TUT: comp. table and let them develop on their own and merge.

Sorry for the length and promise to try being briefer.

Katya

P.S. A note to Malin: Your English sounds much better
than, at least, Esa's and my French. Please
 feel free to write in English (you are not the only one here who's mother
tongue is not English and who makes mistakes). Also, this way you won't
need a macro to clean up accents from your Eudora software which many of
us lack. It makes it even more difficult to figure out letters from
numbers.

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