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The Dimensionality of Text and Picture and the Cross-Cultural Organization of Semiotic Complexes

  • Wolfgang Wildgen
Part of the Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing book series (STUDFUZZ, volume 209)

Abstract

The distinction between picture and text involves a set of basic semiotic challenges. First, pictures are linked in their production to the motoricity of hands, in their receipt to the eye and the visual cortex. Language in its basic form, spoken language, is linked in its production to the motoricity of the human vocal apparatus (from the vocal cords to the lips) and in its perception by the ear and the auditory cortex. The dynamics of these four subsystems and moreover the coordination of the pairs of subsystems in production and reception define the base line of any comparison of picture and text. The fact that written texts map the characteristics of spoken texts onto the dynamics of hands and eyes (to abbreviate the more complete description above) points to the fact that transitions between the two basic modalities have been achieved in the last millennia. If we take abstract signs of the Palaeolithic as point of departure (cf. Wildgen [32, 34]), this (cultural) evolution has been running the last 30,000 years. An even deeper evolutionary opposition opposes manual/facial sign languages and spoken language. The origin of human language after the proto-language of Homo erectus was basically a dominance shift from a slower and less rich system, at least partially based on visual/motor articulations, to a much quicker and richer systems of phonetic/auditory articulation (cf. Wildgen [33]). We have no direct knowledge about the sign language of Homo erectus, but we may guess the characteristics of such a manually based language, if we consider modern signed languages. Due to the use of the manual/visual mode, they show, in spite of being constructed in parallel to existing phonetic languages, characteristic deviations (cf. Emmorey [5], and Lidell [10]). The most characteristic differences concern the diversity of parameters and the relevance of gradient subsystems. As [24] summarizes, spoken language has as major parameter the recombinant system based on phonetic quality.

Keywords

Sign Language American Sign Language Symbolic Form Platonic Solid Biblical Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Wildgen
    • 1
  1. 1.Bremen UniversityBremen

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