Dyad Theory of the sign: signifier (material)/signified(mental) This needs to combine with other signs to take part in the flow of meaning.
Triadic theory of the sign: SR/O/I or Representamen/Object/Interpretant. This has an in-built dynamism.
The Interpretant is NOT the “interpreter”. Rather it is a “proper significate effect”. Most often it is thought of as the sign in the mind that is the result of an encounter with a sign.
Firstness: it has no relations, it is not to be thought of in opposition to another thing and it is merely a “possibility” (music note, vague taste, a sense of a color)
Secondness: it is the realm of brute facts which arise from a relationship.
It is the sense that arises when, in the process of closing a door, it is found that the door is stuck as the result of an object being in its way. The relation is discovered and the world is revealed to be made up of things and their co-existence with other things.
Thirdness: Where Secondness amounts to brutal facts, Thirdness is the mental element, the realm of general laws. A Third brings a First relation with a Second. \
S/R is a First, O is a Second, I is a Third.
“But I admit that while individual instances of signs will reduce the “anarchic” tendency to endless meanings, the cultural diversity and constant change that makes up the realm of the connotative signified is global and diffuse.” — Roland Barthes