semiotic cup of tea?

Clare Gosling… “Reality is divided up into arbitrary categories by every language and the conceptual world with which each of us is familiar could have been divided up very differently. Indeed, no two languages categorize reality in the same way. As John Passmore puts it, ‘Languages differ by differentiating differently’ (Passmore 1985,24).” (Daniel Chandler, Semiotics – P24)

What does the meaning of familiar mean to you? If you ask someone to describe what they feel when the feel that something is familiar to them, they will take some time to think it through. Is it the cup of tea that we offer somebody when they come over to our house? Is it the way we say ‘would you like a cup of tea’? In some parts of the world you have to ask someone three times if they would like a cup of tea to be polite, in others if you ask someone three times it may look like you were trying to force a cup of tea on that person. If you served your guest chocolate flavoured tea in England – would they feel less familiar with it than if you served them Tetley’s tea which they are familiar with seeing on the shelf in their local Tescos. Or is it the emphasis we place on the word tea in the sentence around it. Would you like some TEA…?

“Linguistic categories are not simply a consequence of some predefined structure in the world. There are no natural concepts or categories which are simply reflected in language. Language plays a crucial role in constructing reality.” (Daniel Chandler, Semiotics – P24)

Chocolate flavoured tea anyone?



About Clareg

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3 Responses to semiotic cup of tea?

  1. Just love the idea of chocolate flavour tea by the way – does such a thing exist, if not it should do…

    On the discussion of the concept of familiarity – my thoughts on this are that it is purely and essentially based on experience – nurture and not nature. For instance, whenever I feel a little under the weather, I almost always have a yearning for Heinz Tomato soup. The reason being, that whenever ill as a child, my mother would always give me a warm bowl of this soup together with fingers of richly buttered white bread to dip in. It therefore has the association for me of motherly love, comfort and warm familiarity that comforts me, almost at a subconscious level, when I don’t feel well. Sadly, my mother died years ago, I am a mature and relatively intelligent “grown-up”, and I don’t really like the taste of it anymore, and yet the association persists – I cannot shake it off – whenever I feel ill there it is.

    The good news is that Heinz Ltd will do well out of me unless they come up with a cure for the common cold…..

    • claregosling says:

      Hi Claire with an i, thanks for your comment and for an insight into your familiar – Heinz tomato soup. It is interesting why particular products stay in peoples minds. Artists like Andy Warhol I feel have contributed to the familiarity of the canned food product, and all over the world I’m sure expats and others are craving a can of Heinz tomato soup. Chocolate flavored tea does indeed exist in my cupboard (brought back from Asia) and hopefully teleporting machines will be be invented soon so I can pop over and pick up a box when I feel like it…

  2. Pingback: waeving week 2 posts « thinking practices

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