Archive for Semiotics

New Light on the Human History of Symbols

From Tali Aronsky, a spokesperson at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

While scientists and historians have long surmised that etchings on stones and bones have been used as a form of symbolism dating back as early as the Middle Paleolithic period (250,000-45,000 BCE), findings to support that theory are extremely rare.

A recent discovery by archeologists from the Hebrew University and the University of Haifa alongside a team from the Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France have uncovered evidence of what may be the earliest-known use of symbols.  The symbols were found on a bone fragment in the Ramle region in central Israel and are believed to be approximately 120,000 years old.

Remarkably the fragment remained largely intact and the researchers were able to detect six similar etchings on one side of the bone, leading them to believe that they were in the possession of something which held symbolic or spiritual significance.  The find which was recently published in the scientific journal ‘Quaternary International’ was discovered in a trove of flint tools and animal bones exposed at a site during archaeological excavations.

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Chinese idol names

[This is a guest post by Alex Baumans]

I recently became aware of the Chinese idol survival programme 'Youth with you', which has resulted in the formation of the group The 9. I got to wondering about the members' names. The group consists of XIN Liu, Esther Yu, Kiki Xu, Yan Yu, Shaking, Babymonster An, Xiaotang Zhao, Snow Kong and K Lu. Of these, only Zhao Xiaotang strikes me as an original Chinese name. As my Mandarin is non existent, I can only guess at the derivation of the other stage names.

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The semiotics of an East Asian hand gesture

These days people make all sorts of public and private hand gestures to convey a wide variety of information.  Innocent though they may seem, for various reasons many of them become controversial (e.g., the sign for "OK", which has recently been classified by some organizations as a symbol of hate).

These students at a university in China are making the sign of bǐxīn 比心.  According to their professor, it means "love you" or "give you my heart".

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