The sign models of Sassure and Pierce and the glossematic model of Hjelmslev: an analysis of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
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Cultural meaning has been a critical dimension of landscape design over several thousands of years. Recent literature submits that the strength of cultural meaning has waned over the last century. It is also suggested, however, that the landscape architect is in a unique position to strengthen the status of cultural and symbolic meaning in the landscape (Comer 1990). Before this can transpire, it is necessary for the professional landscape architect to have a clear understanding of what constitutes meaning in the landscape. Theory is discussed as purveying a structural foundation comprised of principals and axioms for understanding meaning. Semiotics or semiology, the science of signs and symbols, offers one systematic approach for analyzing and understanding cultural meaning. This approach, executed extensively in a number of cultural disciplines, has no recognized foundation in 'the discipline of landscape architecture. The fundamental aspect of semiotics is the sign or the sign model. The research reported herein begins the construction of a foundation for semiotics in the discipline of landscape architecture through the examination of three classic sign models as they apply to a contemporary landscape. The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C. is analyzed in light of the sign models of Sassure and Peirce and the glossematic model of Hjelmslev. Each model is applied to the individual design aspects of 'the memorial in an attempt to understand the cultural meaning embodied in the monument. Based on the criteria, depth of analysis and clarity of language, the assets and liabilities of each model is determined through both an individual analysis and a comparative analysis.
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