Forum B

Please look at the following images and attend to the one or more of the first three questions as well as the fourth question.

Question #1:

pink_triangle     pinktridolo

Do some research on the pink triangle as depicted above?  Is the pink triangle a symbol, icon, or index or a combination of two or all three?  Please justify your answers?  How does appropriation configure into the use of the pink triangle and what does appropriation teach us about discourses in place?


Question #2


Would you categorize this statue as an icon or symbol or both or neither?  What is the reason for your answers?  What does this statue teach us about the the ways in which power and difference are intertwined with discourses in place?

Question #3:

CautionSign-IllegalsCrossing Near International Border. Southern U.S.

How would you categorize this road sign–icon, symbol, or index? What are the reasons for your answers? Who do you think erected these signs along the border and why? Who benefits and who doesn’t? In what  specific ways? 

Question 4: 

Overall, based on this exercise, how do the images above complicate our understanding of signs in ways that Scollen and Scollen do not attend to inDiscourses in Place?  What can we learn from the images about indexicality or the context-dependency of signs?

3 responses to “Forum B

  1. Question #1: The pink triangle was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges. They were used by The Nazis to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality. The Jews wore the yellow badge and the “anti-social” individuals wore the black triangle. The pink triangle, I think is a symbol. By definition a symbol is something visible that by association or convention represents something else that is invisible. Therefore, the pink triangle is only a color and a shape, but the symbol or meaning behind it is much more significant and hidden. By the Nazi’s using the color pink to define homosexuality for the males was also a way of labeling them as feminine because the color pink is a “girls color.” This teaches us that appropriation in discourses of places is based on the symbol or hidden meaning behind the visual, along with the actual visual itself as a sign of significance.
    Question #4: In conclusion, there are visual representations all around us depicting a combination of symbols, icons and indexes. Research is key to fully understanding what a “sign” means. It taught us how colors, shapes, font, etc can also be critical in the design of a symbol to support its hidden significance.

  2. 1. I would classify the pink triangle as a symbol. This is because symbols have an independent relationship to the sign user. A pink triangle can mean many different things; just in this case it means homosexuality. After performing some research on the pink triangles I discovered that they appeared on the uniforms of Nazi concentration camp prisoners. These triangles usually symbolized the prisoners who were homosexuals. Now today the pink triangle, once known as a symbol of disgrace, have transformed into a symbol of gay pride. The fact that the pink triangles have transformed into a new meaning shows its appropriation in our society. Appropriation plays an important role in our understanding of discourse in place, because it is a way symbols are assigned/justified.

    2. I would categorize the Native American Indian as an icon. It is an icon because it holds so much similarity to an actual American Indian. If you would look at an actual Indian, you would see many similar characteristics to the Howe statue. Icons usually closely resemble the things they are trying to represent. I would consider this statue to be one of great power. Just looking at the statues physical fit condition, his powerful saluting arm, and his broad defiant stance all give me reasons to believe that he represents power. Power is a very interesting thing when dealing with discourses in place, Indians represented a group of people who were evicted from their home land and lifestyle. The statue represents that, contrary to what some people perceive that Indians are weak and fragile, they are strong and defiant.

    3. I would consider this sign as being an index; this is because the object of a family running affects the sign. Because this sign is most likely near the U.S. and Mexican border people can infer that it represents illegal immigrants. I feel like the location of the sign makes a huge difference in trying to decipher what it all means. For example, if the sign was placed in family neighborhood, then it could be an indication of a people at play. I feel that U.S. and Mexican officials erected these signs along the border. The reason being to keep people (drivers and pedestrians) aware of illegal immigrants, so they notify the border patrol. I don’t think anyone benefits from these signs; the only people who get hurt are Mexican and other immigrants. These signs aide in helping form a stereotype against all immigrants that they are illegal’s. People see these signs and then they see a Mexican and think, “Oh there must be an illegal immigrant family like the one we saw on that sign.”

    4. I feel that Scollon and Scollon don’t represent the context and cultural value of signs. Each culture and way of life affects the way people perceive signs. Scollon and Scollon don’t identify these aspects of signs; they make identifying signs too simplified. We can learn that the images studied above have many different meanings and hidden aspects. indexicality and the context-dependency of signs play an important role in classifying these signs.

  3. #1
    The Pink triangle was a Nazi concentration camp badge used to identify homosexuals in the concentration camps. The pink triangle can be characterized as a symbol because it is a completely arbitrary symbol that doesn’t resemble its own meaning and does not point to it. (Discourses in Place, 27). The pink triangle is literally just a shape with a specific color. Outside of the Nazi concentration camp context it has virtually no meaning. In this setting, it is categorizes men as homosexuals. The color pink may have been most likely used because it is a color that is associated with females. The upside down triangle was used to classify Jews in concentration camps. The combination of these two signs was used as a symbol for classification. Appropriation configures into the use of the pink triangle by showing the deeper message behind said symbol.

    Personally, I feel that up to the point that I have read in the book, Scollon and Scollon do a good job of helping us understand signs. They speak about expectations or objects presented by pictures (icons), signs that take or point to their meaning by where and when they are placed in the world (index), and signs that are arbitrary representations of the thing in the world. (Discourses in Place, vii; 26-27). Scollon and Scollon present cultural and historical significance to symbols and how some make transformations from icons to symbols. Examples are provided with the change in icons to letters. (Discourses in Place, 27). These changes are made through the passage of time and changes in human interactions. Scollon and Scollon also speak about the context dependency of signs. Indexicality explains that signs take their meaning in their place in the material world. (Discourses in Place, 3). For example, taken out of the concentration camp setting, the pink triangle is a symbol for gay rights movement in modern times. (

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