Tag Archives: Direction

Alternatives to the arrow and alternative functions of the arrow

Some time ago Giovanni Lussu pointed out an article to me: “pages 47-66 [ Typographica 12], entitled Emphatic fist, informative arrow, with a short text by Edward Wright commenting some pictures by Herbert Spencer of fists (…) and arrows (…).
The article ends this way: “The sign on the highways is really not an arrow at all; it is a diagram which can change direction and be read from a distance at windscreen level. We can call them arrows because ‘arrow’ now means a certain kind of sign”.

1. There are several pointer of sense AND direction (such as fists or aztec footprints (meaning also “movement” or showing a sequence) or even medieval phylakterion);
2. and arrow is used not only to point a “sense” but also to show a sort of hierarchy in the synsemic text (for exemple, on one side of the arrow there is the main text on the other the “explanation”, or the “note”) or simply to “point out” something in the text.

Acupuncture chart from the Ming Dynasty. The "pointer" is used to create a hierarchy between the main text and the explanations.

Luciano Perondi


Arrow in a synsemic perspective (1)

Letter by Galileo to Leonardo Donato, 1609

Some very short notes about the history of the arrow as a graphic sign (there are four previous posts on this topic in italian: 1, 2, 3, 4).
The discussion started from the article “Mapping symbols to response modalities: Interference effects on Stroop-like tasks”(pdf) presenting a Stroop-like experiment on the interference between a word and an “arrow”.
In a few words, from the abstract: “The subjects were required to respond to one stimulus — an arrow (e.g., →) or a word (e.g., left) — and ignore the other”.

The most important result of the experiment, in brief, is that when the subjects have to act (pressing a key), arrow is stronger than letters, while when the subject have to vocalize the arrow is weaker than letters.

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