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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 28, 2000

Roland Posner
Pages 290-307

Semiotic pollution
Deliberations towards an ecology of signs

This article compares the material pollution of life's elementary resources, i.e., water, soil, and air, with the semiotic pollution of the elementary resources of sign-processes, i.e., channel, sign-matter, and message; code, signifier, and signified; as well as context, sender, and recipient. It is claimed that semiotic pollution interferes with sign-processes as much as material pollution interferes with the fundamental processes of life; both types of pollution are similar in that they produce stress for human beings in current societies. It is argued that semiotics is able to provide the conceptual tools necessary to develop policies that can reduce semiotic pollution. As is shown, however, additional research is required to operationalize and metricize generalized concepts of semiotic pollution such as "channel-related", "semiosis-related", and "situation-related noise".

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