September 23, 2006


Goat Rope is pleased to feature another exclusive contribution by Dr. Molly Ringworm, a Weimerauner dog who is Visiting Professor of Literary Theory at the Goat Rope Farm School of Cultural Studies.

Dr. Ringworm has previously contributed explanations about post-modernism and deconstructionism in the last two weekend editions of Goat Rope. Please check the archives. Her other works include The Social Construction of Squeaky Toys, Deconstructing Human footwear, and many other articles for academic publications.

This ongoing series is part of Goat Rope's continuing efforts to cover the cultural and intellectual issues of our time.

This week, Dr. Ringworm will explain semiotics, which can be defined as the study of signs and their meanings.


OK, like semiotics is cool because it's all about signs and signs are awesome! Dogs love signs.

Especially like road signs. We don't really care what's written on them though. Instead, that's like where we go to read and send each other email messages. Except we do it by peeing. Which is still a lot more interesting than most of the emails you guys send.

Signs can be all kinds of things. They can be letters, words, pictures, sounds, clothes, shapes--you name it. For dogs, they're mostly smells.

And the thing about most people signs is that all by itself the sign may not mean anything. Take the letter s. It's just a squiggly line. There's nothing about it that sounds like an s sound except with the system of all the other letters.

Like the letters s-q-u-e-a-k-y t-o-y by themselves don't mean anything but put them all together and the way you guys talk around here it means "squeaky toy." And the word "squeaky toy" means squeaky toy, which is like a toy that squeaks when you bite it.

Squeaky toys are cool. That's why semiotics is so important. Cause like otherwise you might miss out on the squeaky toy.

Signs have two parts. There's like the thing you mean, which us big dog semiologists call the signified. Then there's like the thing you use to mean what you mean which is called the signifier.

With dogs, it's pretty simple. We go to a road sign and sniff and there's usually a message like "Hey! Check this out! I am one BAD dog!" And then like you can leave a message of your own that says like "Whatever!" or "Oh yeah? Well check this out--I'm even BADDER!"

So what you sniff is the signifier and what it means is the signified, see?

But like with people it can get all messy. Sometimes the signifiers kind of slide off the signified so that nobody knows what anybody else is saying.

That never happens the way dogs do it. Our messages just kind of wear out or get covered over so you have to keep doing it.


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