justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
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What's a Word Worth is a new column by [personal profile] justira about the mechanics of writing. In this column, I examine the actual writing of every single book I read, focusing on how it conveys meaning and whether the writing works for me as an editor, reader, and fellow writer. My analysis will be based on the Peircian semiotic framework, explained in the first few posts of the column.


We're here! I'm finally going to talk about how metaphors work! Let's do this!

Welcome to the fourth post in my introductory series for this column. The first four posts will introduce readers to Peircian semiotics, which is the framework I use to analyze writing. If you're new to this column, please check the first, second, and third posts in this series. If you're following along live and are returning after a week away, you might benefit from taking a look at the review section of the previous post.

One More Trichotomy: Hypoicons(1)


This is the last trichotomy, I promise! It's also the one with all the good stuff in it.

So!

There are actually three types of icons. Read more... )
justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
 photo waww-banner_zpswrcnjjc2.png

What's a Word Worth is a new column by [personal profile] justira about the mechanics of writing. In this column, I examine the actual writing of every single book I read, focusing on how it conveys meaning and whether the writing works for me as an editor, reader, and fellow writer. My analysis will be based on the Peircian semiotic framework, explained in the first few posts of the column.


Welcome to the third post in my introductory series for this column! The first four posts will introduce readers to Peircian semiotics, which is the framework I use to analyze writing. If you're new to this column, please check the first and second posts in this series. If you're following along live and are returning after a week away, you might benefit from taking a look at the review section of the previous post.

Inference and the Logical Order of Determination in the Sign


Up to this point we have talked vaguely about "a sign denoting its object", or a sign's capacity to stand for an object (like the clipart light bulb from the previous post has the capacity to stand for any light bulb). Having assembled the basic Peircian semiotic, we are poised on the brink of turning our discussion to metaphors and how they work and why I think icons are important and Saussure was a tool for dismissing them.

But first! We must pause and be more clear about the role of inference and the logical order of determination in the sign-relation. This will be a much shorter post, but also a denser one, if the header up there wasn't a clue. I'll try to break this down as best as I can. This post leans heavily on the philosophical side of Peirce, which is a bit of a change from the focus we've had so far.

Anyway!

Read more... )
justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
 photo waww-banner_zpswrcnjjc2.png

What's a Word Worth is a new column by [personal profile] justira about the mechanics of writing. In this column, I examine the actual writing of every single book I read, focusing on how it conveys meaning and whether the writing works for me as an editor, reader, and fellow writer. My analysis will be based on the Peircian semiotic framework, explained in the first few posts of the column.


Welcome to the second post in my introductory series for this column! The first four posts will introduce readers to Peircian semiotics, which is the framework I use to analyze writing. Please check out the first post in this series, especially the review of terms.

(And before we get going, yes, I know I named a post about trichotomies after a quadruple meter dance, but I couldn't resist the alliteration, okay? >.>)

Let's jump right in to the first(1) trichotomy of the sign-relation!

Read more... )
justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
 photo waww-banner_zpswrcnjjc2.png

What's a Word Worth is a new column by [personal profile] justira about the mechanics of writing. In this column, I examine the actual writing of every single book I read, focusing on how it conveys meaning and whether the writing works for me as an editor, reader, and fellow writer. My analysis will be based on the Peircian semiotic framework, explained in the first few posts of the column.



"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference."
—June Jordan, Technical Difficulties (1994, p. 197)



So! New column! And I thought I'd start things off by digging into how words mean.

What exactly do I mean by that? What does it have to do with evaluating writing? Well, when I write the word "cat", how do you know what I mean? What kind of cat do you imagine? What would an alien imagine? Or, when I say "this is blue, that is red", how do you know what "this" and "that" refer to? (Or what "blue" and "red" are, for that matter!) When a writer writes, "this surgeon is a butcher," how do you get the idea that this surgeon is really bad at their job, rather than actually being someone who cuts up animal meat for food on the side? Metaphor is a powerful writing tool, and I can tell you how it works.

Language can also be used to signify belonging to a group and draw group boundaries — think of the boundaries drawn by use of the word "queer". Who's allowed to use that word? To refer to themselves? To others? Who objects to the term? Are they part of the same groups? Language is a key resource for asserting and realizing group identities to achieve social and political goals(1). Similar mechanics in turn can be used by authors to signify belonging to a certain school of SFF, or by characters in dialogue to show they belong to specific groups or classes.

My degree is in linguistics, and I wrote my undergraduate thesis on semiotics(2), which, put plainly, is the study of how words mean; this background informs all of my thinking as a writer, reader, and editor. I plan to use this column to analyze writing, and I wanted to let you into my process and background. Plus, I think this stuff is fascinating. So! The first few posts in this column will rehash the first chapter of my thesis for a general audience, and I will refer back to the concepts and terminology when I finally dig into analyzing authors' writing.

Just to be clear, you don't have to read through all this semiotics stuff to understand my breakdowns of other people's writing. However! I want to share this stuff because (a) it's my passion and I find it fascinating and (b) I find it to be a useful framework for analysis. So if you're curious, read on!

First, some housecleaning: some of you may have heard of semiotics before, or semiology. This was almost certainly the dyadic framework of Saussure. The semiotics I'll be covering here is the — in my ever so humble and biased opinion — much more interesting and accurate triadic framework of Peirce. I'll explain the differences later, but just wanted to be clear up front: this isn't the signifier/signified Saussure stuff you may have seen before.

Now we're ready to go!


Read more... )

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