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Semiotics is the study of signs or sign systems. This is applied to any kind of signs, not just words as in semantics. The term was first coined in 1690 by John Locke in An essay concerning human understanding.

Charles Sanders Peirce ((1839 - 1914), founder of the philosophical school of pragmatism, invented semiotics as a discipline. Spelled it semeiotic."

Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913), the "father" of modern linguistics. Invented, at about the same time as Peirce, a subject he called "semiology."

Charles W. Morris (1901-1979) is known for his Foundations of the Theory of Signs.

Umberto Eco made a wider audience aware of semiotics by various publications, most notably A Theory of Semiotics. Explicitly acknowledges Peirce's importance.

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