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UWRT 1102

Figurative Language - The Basics


- Culture based on symbols
- Most symbolic aspect of culture is language, but symbolism also plays a role in religion,
politics, art and literature as well a kinship, commerce and science
- Symbolism is basic to the construction and conveyance of gender, ethnic and national
identities

Universal vs. Culture-Bound dimensions of Symbolism


- The connection between a symbol and its referent is not intrinsic to the symbol itself but
rather is a function of agreed upon use, custom or convention
- It is in this sense language is symbolism

- Symbols are without specific meanings aside from the connotations assigned to them
Connotation = applied meaning
- Political/religious symbols, often charged with emotion, dependent on cultural contexts

- Analysis depends on a differentiation between signifier (the perceptible vehicle or external


form), signified (the meaning, referent, connotation, etc.) and signification (the relation
between the two)

- Symbols expand the notions of signs and symbols

- Symbols are characterized by rich meanings that are multiple, fluid, diverse, layered,
complex and frequently predicated on metaphorical associations that assert on analogy
between things from different contexts that normally may not be connected

- An outstanding feature of all symbols is what is formed, their multivocality; that is, they
stand for many objects, activities and relationships; there is not a one-to-one relationship
between symbol and referent but one-to-one many relationship

- A symbol is a focal point in a story, a single object or situation that draws the attention of
one or more characters