A SEMIOSIS-BASED APPROACH TO DISCOURSE INTERPRETATION
Keywords:semiotics, semiosis, interpretant, discourse, semiosic approach, epitaph
The article seeks to examine the largely unexplored potential of the dimensions of semiosis for discourse studies.
The proposed argumentation refers to the process by which semiosic theoretical principles were selected and
refined into a model of discourse analysis. The propounded methodology is exemplified by the genre of epitaphs
and provides the platform for examining interactions among code, informational and cultural components
of semiotic entity.
Supporting Eco's attempt to make semiotics a scientific discipline the author suggests that
the interpretant of sign should be the basis for the differentiation between three dimensions of semiosis.
The latter is defined as the action of signs that organizes the very structure of the interpretation process.
It is propounded that three types of interpretant – primary, notional and cultural – are responsible
for the existence of three dimensions of semiosis: code, informational and cultural. Discourse
is considered to be a sign and it is suggested that its interpretation is a complex semiosis-based
procedure involving three levels of decoding: perceptive, referential and evaluative. Thus, discourse
can be decoded within: a) the enabling and justifying code; b) the knowledge which we have with regard
to objects; c) the social-cultural realm. Scholars-interpreters can apply three approaches to describe
an explain discourse as a category of communication. The first deals with signification systems that
are exploited in order to physically produce components of discourse and is termed codosemiosic
approach. The second – with judgements on discourse intermediary agency within the semiotic universe
which allow us to grasp the reference to the processes of cognition and knowledge patterns. This one
is suggested to be called infosemiosic approach. And finally, sociosemiosic approach can be identified
with the study of how discourse communicates something graspable within a particular social and
cultural community with all implications concerning identity.
The case-study provides the description of the semiosic analysis of a tombstone as a multimodal
discoursive sign in the space of culture which contains epitaphs as a separate genre of funeral discourse.
The potential of three approaches for the tombstone interpretation is considered and three dimensions
of its semiosis are discussed. It is suggested that codo-, info-, and sociosemiosic approaches elaborated
in the article may provide a new tool for discourse studies.
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