Rethinking the Peircean trichotomy of icon, index, and symbol


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Classification of signs into various kinds is a vital enterprise in semio- tic research. As early as over a century ago, the American semiotician Charles Sanders Peirce laid down a solid foundation for this work by proposing his famous trichotomy of signs. Later scholars have been mostly applying Peirce’s theory to their own semiotic studies rather than challenging the inadequacies that exist therein, thus giving rise to a great number of confusions or even contradictions. The present article modifies Peirce’s theory from the perspective of sign emergence and evolution and emphasizes the importance of understanding sign transformations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
Issue number213
Early online date9 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Peircean trichotomy
  • classification of signs
  • icon
  • index
  • sign emergence and evolution
  • symbol


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