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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.509

CiteScore 2018: 0.23

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.232
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.478

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2013, Issue 196


Significal Designs: Translating for meanings that truly matter

Soo Meng, Jude Chua
Published Online: 2013-08-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0064


“Language is ‘made for man’ and not man for language: he ought not to be its slave.” Thus writes Lady Victoria Welby. In this essay, I wish to explore in what sense that might be the case and why it is important that we take charge of the sign systems that would otherwise dictate our thinking. Drawing on Gunther Kress's distinction between the use and the Design of signs, I suggest that Welby's theory of significs and her emphasis on translating significantly gives us reasons to appreciate the need to Design signs that translate into meanings that have ethical import, are useful for engaging society, and are practiced critically. I compare her theory with John Finnis' quest for focal meanings, and argue in conclusion that professional education stands to benefit from adopting their method of clarifying and translating for the significant sense(s) of central terms in educational discourse.

Keywords: Welby; semioethics; Petrilli; design; Gunther Kress; natural law

About the article

Soo Meng, Jude Chua

Jude Chua Soo Meng (b. 1973) is an associate professor at the Nanyang Technological University 〈 〉. His research interests include ethics, philosophy of education, semiotics, and jurisprudence. His publications include “Saving the teachers' soul: Exorcising the terrors of performativity” (2009); “Donald Schon, Herbert A. Simon, and the sciences of the artificial” (2009); “The price is right” (2009); and “Taking pictures with negative contrast: Edward Schillebeeckx OP, critical remembrance, and policy analysis as practical reason” (2010).

Published Online: 2013-08-23

Published in Print: 2013-08-15

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 196, Pages 353–364, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0064.

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