Arrows Can Be Dangerous

  • John Monk The Open University


Arrow signs find use in professional fields are a part of everyday practices exercised in public places. Both the geographical and cultural settings affect a signs utility; the focus here is on arrows in England and its North American colonies and in particular English uses of the broad arrowhead as a symbol for regal property and as a mark on convict's clothes. A semiotic analysis using Jakobson's functional categories shows that practices that incorporate signs are not unde the control of the sign maker and the geographical and historical context can change a signs use and can occasionally render an acceptable sign into one that  provokes anger and bring ignominy. Such negative effects draw attention to the ethical dimension of signs. 

Special Issue: The Difference that Makes a Difference 2011