Semiotics turning cross-cultural

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Language and Semiotic Studies

Publication Date

Fall 2015





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semiotics, cross-cultural studies, ontological realism, Peircean trichotomy, Chinese scripts, vehicular diversity and multivalency, cognitive theory of metaphor


Semiotics, mostly as a theory of meaning, has a long history both in China and in the West. Although there had been little interaction between these two independent traditions before the 20 th century, we can fi nd some interesting similarities and differences in their semiotic thoughts that continue to influence how we conceptualize things today. Contemporary China, for example, is widely seen as being characterized by a Marxist epistemology which was imported from the West, but a close examination shows that this dominant theory of knowledge is as much a product of its own native tradition of ontological realism propounded by Ouyang Jian 17 centuries ago. With the advent of globalization of semiotics in the 20 th century, Chinese and Western scholars are now able to take direct advantage of each other’s theoretical resources which often result in new insights critical to the advancement of human knowledge. Two examples of such East-West interaction are Peirce’s trichotomy of signs being appropriated for the classification of Chinese characters and Qian Zhongshu’s "sides-andhandles theory of metaphor" serving as a critique of the bewildered and bewildering cognitive science championed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. It is in this sense that semiotics is becoming increasingly global or cross-cultural on top of its interdisciplinary trademark.

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Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2015 苏州大学.

Recommended Citation

Ding, E. (2015). Semiotics turning cross-cultural. Language and Semiotic Studies, 1(3), 1-12.

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