What is a sign?

Kodikas/Code 28 (1-2):19-23 (2005)
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Abstract

First of all, and above all, a sign is expected to be significant. A sign without significance is like a hollow husk. It is chaff without seed. Sign and significance are correlative terms like parent and child. Just as no one is a parent who has not begotten or borne a child so nothing which does not have significance can be a sign. On this point the English and the Latin words are self-explanatory. In English the words “sign” and “significance” contain the same root. In the Latin words “significans” – that which signifies – and “significatum” – that which is signified – the correlation is even more obvious. In German, however, there is no such ready evidence of the correlation in the terms themselves. Indeed at first blush the terms “Zeichen” and “Bedeutung” seem so unrelated that philosophers have felt themselves constrained to write volumes of explanations on the term “Bedeutung”.

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