SYMBOLS: The Language of Communication by Polly Bolian

SYMBOLS: The Language of Communication

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Anyone hoping to investigate the psychology of language and symbolic behavior will be disappointed by Bolian's Symbols, little more than a rundown of conventional signs. (Site uses the words sign and symbol interchangeably except when the former refers to ""an advertising sign, billboard or the like."") Thus the Oscar and Tony awards are ""three-dimensional symbols of professional achievement in the entertainment industry"" while, a few lines later, ""three globes are the symbol of a pawnshop."" National anthems are aural symbols and thumbing one's nose a gesture symbol. And of course ""most of us are familiar"" with the peace symbol derived from the semaphore alphabet and with status symbols which ""can be very important to those who agree with the values"" they represent. The closest Bolian comes to analysis or theory is her statement that ""the key word is communication"" and that the only rules for a symbol are that it must be understood by others and its meaning must be learned. A little more attention is given to attempts to develop easily recognizable traffic symbols and an international fund of graphic messages (the diagonal slash for ""forbidden,"" etc.). An inexcusably superficial treatment, which is easy enough to understand but still violates rule one by signifying nothing.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Franklin Watts