Ole tegner og fortæller. Om den semiotiske forskel på billeder og tekst

  • Ole Togeby


The basic notion in semiotics is taken to be, not 'sign', but 'representation', which is defined as 'something that indicates something for someone that it is designed to indicate'. Paintings, oral linguistic utterances and written texts, which are examples of external representations, and perceptual representations and conceptual representations, which are examples of internal (mental) representations, all share the two criterial features of being about something and the possibility of misrepresentation (conditions of satisfaction). A distinction is made between pictures, that are analog, i.e. holistic and looking like what they indicate, and texts, that are digital, i.e. consisting of discrete parts and indicating by convention. Hybrid representations have mixtures of analog and digital features, and komplex representations are compositions of analog an digital representations in one communicative application. Peceptual representation is analog, holistic and based on correspondence between what is in front of the eyes and what is in the mind of the beholder; conceptual representation is digital representation by which the discrete parts of what is perceived count as something by convention. Both man and cat have both perceptional and conceptional representations of external objects. But only man can distinguish the figure (subject) from the ground in a picture, and interpret a painting of a pipe, not only as a painting, but also as a painting of a pipe. In addition to these types of mental processes, interpretation of digital texts demands knowledge of both an inventory of letters (the alphabet) and an inventory of morphems (the lexicon) because texts (both spoken and written) have double digitalisation. The main differences between texts and pictures are the following: texts are acts in time, double digitalised, based on both compositionality and functionality, anchored to the now of the communication, have logical syntax, are unambiguous propositions that can be true or false, are learnt socially, and predominantly cognitive. Pictures are objects in space, analog, based on functionality, not anchored, no logical syntax, ambiguous, not true or false, but with resemblance, biologically learnt, and visual.
How to Cite
Togeby, O. (2005). Ole tegner og fortæller. Om den semiotiske forskel på billeder og tekst. Tidsskrift for Sprogforskning, 3(1), 29-46. https://doi.org/10.7146/tfs.v3i1.82
Articles - Miscellania