In linguistics, semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of sign processes, or signification and communication, signs and symbols. It is usually divided into the three following branches:
- Semantics: Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata.
- Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal structures.
- Pragmatics: Relation between signs and their effects on the people who use them.
Semiotics is frequently seen as having important anthropological dimensions; for example, Umberto Eco proposes that every cultural phenomenon can be studied as communication. However, some semioticians focus on the logical dimensions of the science. They examine areas belonging also to the natural sciences – such as how organisms make predictions about, and adapt to, their semiotic niche in the world. In general, semiotic theories take signs or sign systems as their object of study: the communication of information in living organisms is covered in biosemiotics or zoosemiosis.