Monday, September 18, 2006

Semiotics and Semantics

I was reading an article from John F Sowa on Semiotics and Semantics and there is somethign I found very interesting in that article. It goes back to what semiotics and semantics is all about.

The study of signs, called semiotics, was independently developed by the logician and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. The term comes from the Greek sêma (sign); Peirce originally called it semeiotic, and Saussure called it semiology, but semiotics is the most common term today. As Saussure (1916) defined it, semiology is a field that includes all of linguistics as a special case. But Peirce (CP 2.229) had an even broader view of that includes every aspect of language and logic within the three branches of semiotics:

1. Syntax. "The first is called by Duns Scotus grammatica speculativa. We may term it pure grammar." Syntax is the study that relates signs to one another.

2. Semantics. "The second is logic proper," which "is the formal science of the conditions of the truth of representations." Semantics is the study that relates signs to things in the world and patterns of signs to corresponding patterns that occur among the things the signs refer to.

3. Pragmatics. "The third is... pure rhetoric. Its task is to ascertain the laws by which in every scientific intelligence one sign gives birth to another, and especially one thought brings forth another." Pragmatics is the study that relates signs to the agents who use them to refer to things in the world and to communicate their intentions about those things to other agents who may have similar or different intentions concerning the same or different things.

What I found is Semantics is all about how we represent real-world into the world of computers. It is all about how the smallest piece of information is represented in the whole universe of data and how it fits in the context of the big picture.


Atul said...

Also exploring "Panini" especially his Ashtadhyayi will be good as well. Modern Linguistics has still not been able to scale the heights of "Panini".

Some researchers on AI (Artifical Intelligence) in US and many universities are exploring
pretty good stuff from linguistic study of Sanskrit