Semiotics is the general science of the nature, origin and use of symbols as they occur in all forms of expression (gesticulation, images, language, formulae and so forth). In the 20th century semiotics developed into an independent structural science, and its most important applications have been not only in linguistics, but also in modern biology.

The question of how symbols acquire meaning was originally investigated at the beginning of the 20th century by the mathematician and philosopher Charles S. Peirce. Semiotics has received important impulses from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure within his concept of structural linguistics. Structural semiotics was extended in the middle of the 20th century, above all by Roland Barthes.The founder of “biosemiotics” is accepted to have been  Jakob von Uexküll. Among the best-respected contemporary semioticians is the writer and media expert Umberto Eco.


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