Semiotic Landscapes in Commercial Communication: A Preliminary Reading of Greek-Cypriot Shop Signs

Semiotic Landscapes in Commercial Communication: A Preliminary Reading of Greek-Cypriot Shop Signs

Evripides Zantides (Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus), Evangelos Kourdis (Department of French Language and Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece) and Charikleia Yoka (Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSS.2016070101
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The analysis of a sample of characteristic commercial shop signs in today's Limassol, Cyprus, asserts their anchorage function as syncretic/polysemiotic texts relying upon the synergy of semiotic systems, in their commercial and broader informational function. The study of intersemiosis, i.e. of the translation between pictorial and linguistic semiotic systems and their hierarchy, can provide the basis for an in-depth semiotic study of the socio-economic and historical-aesthetic landscape of the city. This study offers a preliminary methodological separation of sign systems on the shop signs in Limassol, showing up the ways intersemiosis remains the standard historical communication method of shop signs since the advent of mass commerce.
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The Double Function Of Shop Signs: Commercialmessages And Techniques Of Aesthetic Integration

The shop sign is one of the most attractive tools for visual communication. They are part of our everyday life. Treu (2012, p. 323) states that “[i]n present day parlance, a (commercial) sign has loosely come to be understood as any kind of graphic in the built environment, be it an advertisement, a shop identification, or a set of directions”. Shohamy (2008, p. 142) also considers shop signs (sometimes called shop-front advertisements) similar to advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Both advertisements and shop signs are used to promote a product, the main difference being that advertisements are published in the press or broadcast over the air, while shop signs are displayed in public space. We will add that, despite the specificities of electronic communication, one could say that ads in digital space have a similar anchorage function. The power of the anchorage function requires the effective synergy of multiple semiotic systems (language, image, color, typography, graphics, proxemics) as well as intersemiotic translation and rhetorical techniques. As Pires De Carvalho (2011, p. 48) mentions:

… today shop signs have acquired new importance multiplied by the speed and the reach of information circulated through the Internet. Today's shop signs are domain names – the addresses through which it is possible to access the websites of companies and other entities that engage in virtual business …

We will argue here that the specific urban context sets its own informational and aesthetic demands upon shop sign design, besides the ones purely connected to the products on sale in each store.

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