The constituents of the Peircean Semiotics are the Sign, Object and Interpretant. A sign occupies a significant position in the study of Semiotics. Some of the terms used by Peirce for the signifying element including ‘sign’, ‘representamen’, ‘representation’, and ‘ground’. For him, the sign element responsible for signification is the ‘sign-vehicle’ which does not signify in all respects but has certain components that enable it to signify the object. In the real sense of the word, that signifying element of the sign is the qualified sign (Alabi, 2000: 116).
As far as signification is concerned, every characteristic of the object just as that of the sign is not relevant. For Peirce, the relationship between the object of a sign and the sign that represents it is one of determination: the object determines the sign. The idea is that the object imposes certain constraints that a sign must fall within if it is to represent that object. However, only certain characteristics of an object are relevant to this process of determination.
The interpretant is the understanding we reach of some sign/object relation. It is the meaning of the original sign. The idea is that the interpretant provides an interpretation of the sign, allowing us a more complex understanding of the sign’s object. Indeed, Liszka (1996:50) and Savan (1998:41) both emphasize the need to treat interpretants as translations, with Savan even suggesting that Peirce should have called it the translatant. Again, just as with the sign/object relation, Peirce believes the sign/interpretant relation to be one of determination: the sign determines an interpretant.
1.9.6 Qualisign Sinsign and Legisign
These are the Peircean triadic relations of comparison. To Peirce, a qualisign is a quality which is the same time a sign. It is any sign whose sign-vehicle relies on simple abstracted qualities which Alabi (2000:135) describes as the qualitative peculiarity of a sign. A sinsign is any sign whose sign-vehicle depends on existential association with its object of reality that can constitute a sign (Savan, 1998: 21). A legisign, on its own part, is a sign whose signifying element is basically predicated on laws or conventions surrounding its use.
1.9.7 Rheme, Dicent and Argument
These are the Peircean triadic relations of thought. Rheme is a substance that indicates the potentiality of an object, the subject of possible interpretation. Whenever a sign is understood based on the terms of qualities it possesses, the interpretation that qualifies that sign is that of a Rheme. When the understanding of a sign is determined by its interpretation based on the existential features it deploys in signifying an object, then that sign is a Dicent because it gives information about its object. On the other hand, an argument is a sign intended to regulate or guide. Whenever a sign focuses on some conventional features of its relationship with an object, i.e. enabling the understanding of the sign as part of a system that is rule-governed, the interpretation that qualifies that sign is perceived as an Argument.
1.9.8 The Hierarchy of Categories
According to Peirce, there are three categories which are germane and can adequately account for all of human experience. These categories align numerically with first, second and third and have the specifications as ‘Firstness’, ‘Secondness’, and ‘Thirdness’. Firstness is defined by a quality which includes (qualisign, icon, and rheme) whereas Secondness is determined by an existential fact and it includes (sinsign, index and dicent) and Thirdness is established by conventions, rules and laws and it incudes (legisign, symbol and argument).
The media and the general intellectual community had largely accepted and internalized the basic framework of government doctrine throughout, but with the virtual declaration of war, under these circumstances, it became necessary to pursue the task of imposing a suitable doctrinal structure with renewed vigor. Specifically, since we have declared war against Nicaragua and established a functioning terrorist state in El Salvador, it must be true—and therefore it is true— that Nicaragua is a brutal one-party dictatorship devoted to torture and
oppression while the resistance who courageously fought “the former dictator” Somoza now fight for freedom and democracy against the new dictator Ortega imposed by Soviet imperialism; correspondingly, it is necessarily the case that El Salvador, like Guatemala and Honduras, is a “fledgling democracy” marching forward towards the Four Freedoms thanks to our fervent love of liberty.
The English philosopher J. L. Austin (1962) in his book How to Do Things with Words provides the first advanced and elaborate treatment of speech acts. Austin claims that many utterances are equivalent to actions. He argues that people do things with words and can create new social and psychological realities by their utterances. His thinking centres on the idea of the performative, a type of utterance that performs the very action it describes. Through his Speech Act Theory, he explains utterances as having three parts: locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. A locutionary act is the basic production of a linguistic expression, with a given syntactic formation and a literal meaning. The study of locutionary act belongs to the domain of descriptive linguistics which comprises phonetics and phonology, lexis, syntax and linguistic semantics. An illocutionary act is the intended action performed through the production of the locution and can be said to be a non-linguistic act performed through a linguistic or locutionary act. By producing the utterance, the speaker may be asserting a claim, asking a question, making a promise, threatening, begging, naming an object or even joining a couple. Austin uses the last example to illustrate that through their words, speakers can change reality. Indeed, the performative character of other speech acts may not be as direct or explicit, but this does not diminish their status as acts. Finally, a perlocutionary act is an action accomplished through an utterance that depends for its identity not only on the speaker’s intentions, but rather also on the effect of the utterance on its audience. Therefore, the perlocutionary act is the actual influence that the speaker’s utterance has upon the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviour of the hearer. In other words, utterances must be seen as acts, which perform different tasks in different contexts, based on certain social conditions (Saliu, 2013: 193-194; Dresner and Herring, 2010:1; Mey, 2001:217).