The Saussurean Sign
Ferdinand de Saussure’s sign is composed of a signifier and a signified; The two are inseparable like the two faces of a sheet.
Ferdinand de Saussure is a mentalist. According to him, signs are psychic and not physical entities.
The signifier represents the acoustic image: A mental representation and not a sequence of physical sounds.
The signified, on the other hand, constitutes the concept or what we generally call meaning.
Note: Today semioticians tend to be more materialists than mentalists, signifiers and signified refer to physical objects, contrary to the Saussurean definition of the sign.
- Sign = Signifier + Signified
- Signifier = Acoustic image
- Signified = Concept
The Arbitrariness of the Sign
Arbitrariness could be understood as = The absence of a rule.
The arbitrariness of a sign means that no rule tells us which signifier must correspond to which signified.
This is the main reason why we are obliged to learn by heart, or thanks to society, the vocabulary of the language instead of a simple (inexistent) rule applies to all languages.
There is no universal rule that tells us which signifier must correspond to which signified.
 Cf. (“Semiotics for Beginners: Signs.”)
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“The Saussurean Sign” is part of:
Khettab, Sid Ahmed. Semiotics and Semiology: From Sign to Semiosis and From Code to Discourse [Course]. 2021. DOI.org (Datacite), https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.23509.55520. [Online Article]
KHETTAB, Sid Ahmed. Semiotics and Semiology: From Sign to Semiosis and From Code to Discourse. Independently published, 2021, https://www.amazon.com/Semiotics-Semiology-Sign-Semiosis-Discourse/dp/B0959N6111. [Paperback]