Publication: Signs in Culture and Tradition

Grafik, Imre, 1998. Signs in Culture and Tradition. Szombathely: Savaria University Press, 259 pp.

Imre Grafik’s work has received attention outside of Hungary, as many of his studies have been translated into English. However, this collection of English translations of a selection of his essays has not yet become widely known to English-speaking semiotics and mark studies specialists. Though the specific attention to Hungarian folk culture would at first seem to suggest a narrow focus, Grafik’s many insights can be broadly and  more generally applied to folk culture and its traditional manifestations wherever they are found.

From the author’s introduction:

“As new disciplines and their new approaches and methods (e.g. structuralism, communication theory, information theory, system theory, semiotics) turned towards archaic and peasant folk cultures, there has been a wider possibility of devoting attention within complex individual and social behavior to all the historically and socially determined or determinable manifestations which convey information and meaning content among the members of communities. […]

It is an important aspect of non-verbal communication that its spatial realizations are widespread, while its characteristic in time is that it does not necessarily require relations of regulated duration. It is precisely because of these features that they are able to survive persistently even when they have lost much or all of their function and meaning. By revealing the messages inherent in them it is possible to reconstruct earlier cultures and cultural processes. For research this means that very often and in many fields, information on the past and on lost cultures can be obtained through the channels interpreted above as non-verbal communication.”

The volume contents are as follows:

Introduction: Non-Verbal Communication in Folk Culture

Sign in Place of Word
• Property Signs in The Communicative Situation
• Property Sign Examination Through Entropy Analysis
• On Property Marks Containing Letters (In Hungary)

The Meaning of Space
• The Motion Pattern of The Courtyard and House
• Tradition and Signs in Vernacular Architecture
• A Semiotic-Aesthetic Approach to The Analysis of The Practice of Folk Architecture in Market Towns

The Message of Objects
• The Marked Object-Universe: Marks On The Objects
• Material Culture in The Mirror of Archival Sources
• Remembering Objects

The book can be obtained through:
University of West Hungary – Savaria Campus
European Documentation Center
H-9700 Szombathely, Berzsenyi tér 2.
Tel: 00-36/94/504-527
Fax: 00-36/94/504-527