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  • Background of the study

Semiotic, also called semiology, the study of signs and behavior of use of signs. This study will examine signs and sign systems as follows: semantics; syntactic; phonologies etc. However, semiotics was defined by one of its founders, the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, as a study of “sign life in society”. Semiotics, the study of signs, has been of great interest since the 1990s mainly through its application to the interpretation of literary texts and, by extension, to culture (Scholes, 2009). Semiotics is the study of signs and their meaning in society. A sign is something that can represent something else. In other words, a sign is anything that can make sense. Thus, words can be signs, drawings can be signs, photographs can be signs, and even street signs can be signs. The fashions and styles, the type of bag you have or even your place of residence can also be considered as signs, in that they make sense (Chandler, 2002). This chapter will present the notion of signs, their functioning in systems and as tools of communication, and locate the signs in codes (Kashima, 2011). The role of semiotics in literary criticism is to establish key theoretical models that can provide insights so that the connection of the texts to broader meaning structures within literary practices can be better understood (Greimas, Algirdas and Joseph, 2008).

According Greimas, Algirdas and Joseph (2008), at the end of the nineteenth century, the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure proposed the creation of a discipline called semiology to study and elucidate the nature and function of signs and ability to embrace nonverbal signs. A distant continent but almost at the same time, Danesi (2007) believes that the American philosopher Charles S. Peirce, in 1914, also describes a science of signs (a “doctrine”) that he called semiotics (using the same spelling from John Locke before him). ). Since these two propositions, semiotics has become a sophisticated and productive discipline for studying all aspects of the production and interpretation of signs, called “semiosis”. As far as literary works are concerned, semiotic analysis is based on several currents of thought, including the so-called Russian Formalists, the Tartu School and the Algirdas Greimas School. From these foundations, semiotics has become a major tool of literary criticism because it links the literary text to the “universe of signs” and thus to the network of sign systems that interact to give the text its particular meanings, based on history (Danesi, 2007). Literary critics of the semiotic tradition generally extend the literary text to a broader reading of the culture in which it was created and the more universal structures inherent in it. European schools of literary semiotics have focused on the rhetorical structure of texts as the main vector of the nature of literary texts (Culler, 2001).

According to Scholes (2009), Peirce’s seminal work in the field was anchored in pragmatism and logic. He defined a sign as “something that represents something for someone,” and one of his main contributions to semiotics was categorizing signs into three main types: (1) an icon, which looks like its referent (as a stonefall panel); (2) an index associated with its referent (smoke is a sign of fire); and (3) a symbol, which is linked to its referent only by convention (as with words or traffic signals). Peirce has also shown that a sign can never have a precise meaning because it must be constantly qualified (Scholes, 2009).

Looking at semiotics models, semantics is the “how” of semiotics, which concerns the relation between signifier and signified, how one could read things semantically. For example, the red light can be read in red as a stop, and green in the go. Syntactic focuses on the formal relationship between signs in a signaling system. To read the syntax of traffic lights, we can see the relationships between red, orange and green as three parts of a signaling system that also refer to other signaling systems (white lines on the road or the form of ‘a stop sign). These signaling relationships then make the traffic light structure a signaling system. In addition, the last useful concept of basic semiotics that should be mentioned is the idea of ​​syntactic indeterminacy. Syntax is the formal relationship between signs and sign systems. However, as we have noted, signaling systems are constantly changing and evolving, the arbitrariness of the relations between signifier and signified creating a sort of “room for maneuver” allowing meaning to change and evolve in context. This flexibility in meaning creates a space where a sign that means something that may mean something slightly or substantially different from others.

Yoruba and French are two linguistic subjects of the Nigerian educational system. While Yorùbá is an officially recognized indigenous language as a compulsory subject at the primary and secondary levels, according to the MT1 of the learner, French is an FL, the second official language of Nigeria, which is taught as an option, especially at secondary level. . Both languages ​​are also taught as disciplines at different levels of education in Nigeria. In addition to English, French is undoubtedly the most studied European language in Nigeria, just as Yoruba is one of the most studied African languages ​​at the university level in the United States. In addition to the field of education, French and Yoruba also interact in the field of commerce. Both are used interchangeably along Nigeria’s southwestern (Yoruba) borders by Nigerian and Beninese merchants in cross-border commercial transactions (Adewole, 2007).

  • Statement of the problems

French and Yoruba, as languages, have co-existed in the discourse of Yoruba – French bilinguals for some time now. Historically, the growth of Yoruba –French bilingualism has not been without problems. French is a contact language in Nigeria, and in a situation such as this, the point of contact is usually the bilingual individual who does not know how and why he code-mixes and code-switches in his utterances nor does he know the root cause of language learning difficulties. Understanding more about language phenomenon is the general concern of linguists the world over. People hold different opinions-about different languages. Some anthropological linguists who studied African languages viewed African Languages as little more than echoes of noise, and that they are no match for European languages. Later studies (Greenberg, 2011) revealed that the notion that African languages were inferior was disproved, as languages are of equal importance, and moreover have a lot of things in common. This paper aims at finding solutions to these research problems by investigating a semiotic study of the similarity of the French and Yoruba.

  • Objective of the study

This study is to examine a semiotic study of the similarity of the French and Yoruba

The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To investigate the semantic dimensions in French and Yoruba language
  2. To examine the syntactic elements in French and Yoruba language
  3. To assess the phonological modules in French and Yoruba language
  4. To analyze the contrastive sound in Yoruba in relation with French language.
  5. To compare the lexicological models in French and Yoruba language

1.4       Justification of the study

Justification of choice the subject comparing the French and Yoruba semiotic perspective presents to our eyes an interest from a double point of view: it will interest in a general way those who make the studies in semiotics which is in the field of general or applied linguistics. Secondly, it will be a valuable aid, a reference tool for students, researchers and teachers, because it sets out in a concise manner the contrastive analysis system of French and Yoruba. This subject tries to look for an appropriate methodology of correction of this error between the two domains.

1.5          Methodology

The approach methodology to study the hasty hypotheses or to try to answer our problematic we will use the comparative and analytical method like the videos, the CD’s, the audio tape (recorder) etc this method of observation will allow us to analyze the similarity and the comparison between French and Yoruba. We only work on the criteria like; semantic, syntactic, phonology and phonetics which include vowel lessons and consonant sounds, to relay this method we have also been imperious to apply the documentary technique using the works which provides us with information about our subject.

1.6       Definition of terms

Semantics – this is the ‘how’ of semiotics, and is concerned with this relationship between a signified and signifier – the sign and what it stands in for.

Syntactics – this refers to structural relations.  One structural relation in language is grammar, but syntactics in semiotics refers to the formal relationship between signs that lets them build into sign systems.

Phonology – this is the system of contrastive relationships among the speech sounds that constitute the fundamental components of a language.


Adewole, L.O. (2007) Issues in Linguistics and Yoruba Language. Inaugural Lecture Series 202, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

Chandler, D. (2002). Semiotics: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Courtés, J (2006). Introduction à la sémiotique narrative et discursive: Méthodologie et application. Paris: Hachette.

Culler, J. (2001). The Pursuit of the Sign. London: Routledge.

Danesi, M. (2007). The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Danesi, M. (2007). The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Greenberg, J.H. (2011). The Language of Africa. Bloomington .Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Greimas, J.,  Algirdas, K and Joseph, C. (2008). Semiotics and Language: An Analytical Dictionary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press

Kashima, Y. (2011) “Culture and Social Cognition. Towards a Social Psychology of Cultural Dynamics”. In: David Matsumoto (ed.): The Handbook of Culture andPsychology. New York: Oxford UP, p. 325-360.

Nöth, W. (2009). Handbook of Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Scholes, R (2009). Semiotics and Interpretation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

Sebeok, T. (2001). A. Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics. 2d ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.



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