Sign vs Symbol
What do you think when you see the symbol $, or when you are required to multiply and are asked to do so by showing the sign X? Not much, I presume as both stand for something that is common or popularly known or perceived with the help of the sign or the symbol. For example, a pigeon is a universal symbol of peace while a ring worn by men tells the world that they are married or engaged. On the other hand, signs are mostly warning signs that tell about impending dangers. This article is meant to highlight the differences between sign and symbol.
Signs are informative, mandatory, warning, advisory and prohibitory in nature. For examples, when you see the traffic light turn red, you automatically stop driving or riding a motorcycle. In hospitals, there is a sign that contains a burning cigarette that is crossed out inside a big circle. It is a prohibitory sign in the sense that you are warned that the hospital is a no smoking zone. Similarly, you see a sign depicting a horn that is crossed out on a school building. It depicts that it is mandatory to maintain silence, and you must not honk the horn in the zone. ‘No U turn’ and ‘sharp turn’ are signs on roads to avoid accidents and thus classify under warning signs.
Symbols are signs that stand for something else. For example, a cross is a symbol of Christianity worldwide just as plus sign has come to mean Red Cross or hospital in general, and even an illiterate person knows he can get medical services when he sees this symbol. There are symbols for elements in chemistry, which are derived by abbreviating their names such as O standing for Oxygen. In a similar manner, there are hundreds of symbols in all parts of the world that stand for something else and readily recognizable.
Difference between a sign and a symbol
One big difference between a sign and a symbol is that signs literally have a language of their own; a toilet is meant for ladies by a sign over the door of the place, just as you immediately know that there is a restaurant nearby with a sign that is displayed on road. On the other hand, symbols are abstract or subjective in nature and require interpretation. A rainbow stands as a symbol of good luck while a thunderstorm on a rainy day has come to reflect a bad omen.
What is the difference between Signs and Symbols ?
• Signs and symbols are both carriers of information and in general, people do not pay attention to slight differences between them.
• Symbols are signs that stand for some other thing while signs are more descriptive in nature. So there are warning signs, mandatory signs, prohibitory signs, and indicative signs such as a figure of a woman outside a ladies toilet.