The Interconnectedness Principle and the Semiotic Analysis of Discourse


Marcel Danesi

University of Toronto






A large portion of human intellectual and social life is based on the production, use, and exchange of relevant meanings in verbal discourse. This has endowed the human species with the ability to cope effectively with the crucial aspects of existence __ knowing, behaving purposefully, planning, socializing, and communicating. Clearly, then, one of the primary tasks of semiotics is to identify and document how discourse unfolds and how it encodes meanings.

The purpose of this brief paper is to put forward a principle, as a target for discussion, which is proposed as a framework for studying the "meaning flow" of discourse. It has been drafted here from previous work (e.g. Danesi 1998) and is based primarily on the kinds of data that have been captured on taped conversations that I have been compiling over a seven-year period (from 1992 to 1999). The conversations caught on these tapes are typical instances of everyday social interactions. Most of the taping was done on the campus of the University of Toronto. It is certainly beyond the scope of the present brief note to provide a detailed breakdown and analysis of the data that these tapes contain. That is the objective of a future study. Here, the aim is simply to present an initial analysis of how "meaning flow" in discourse is shaped by a syntagmatic chain of signifieds and, thus, to propose the notion that discourse unfolds primarily through a "circuitry" of connotative meanings through which interlocutors "navigate mentally," so to speak. This principle, therefore, goes counter to classical theories of meaning based on the principle that denotation is the primary form of meaning-encoding.

 




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AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 6 : Page 1 / 8


© 1999, AS/SA

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1999.07.14