The linguistics classes I took were some of my favourites - and directed my study in my art and anthropology classes as well... I spent many many hours pouring through every volume (and copying large portions of them into sketchbooks if I could not check them out) in the philology def:(2b) and wikipedia and linguistics section of the library.
Article: Semiotics document - Signs
Saussure noted that his choice of the terms signifier and signified to indicate 'the distinction which separates each from the other.' Despite this, and the horizontal bar in his diagram of the sign, Saussure stressed that sound and thought (or the signified and the signifier) were as inseparable as the two sides of a piece of paper. They were 'intimately linked' in the mind by an associative link - 'each triggers the other' Saussure presented these elements as wholly interdependent, neither pre-existing the other.'
The study of signs and symbols is semiotics.
Examples of some signs from my drawings:
idealized forms(just a few of many) of the living state(mode) symbol. This symbol represents the physical heart as well as the abstract soul, combined into one state, or mode - of being. Think of it, linguistically, as a noun that always has one adjective state or another to begin (or connotation) - and then can have other adjective states attached to it, for additional information. ((Ex: starting noun 'dog' compared to 'hound' - then the addition of 'good hound' or 'loud dog.'))
The 'living' symbol is included to tell information about the figure it is attached to. This symbol tells not only if the figure is alive, a spirit, etc... but also can have other signifiers attached to indicate if the life is growing, looking towards the future or past, sick/well, protected/vulnerable etc. etc. The usual colour of this symbol is blue for the spirit - but if other colours are present, they too can add to the intended meaning.
examples from recent drawings