In Scientific Cooperation with Daina Teters
Edited By Zdzislaw Wasik
Richard L. Lanigan: Slugging: The nonce sign in an urban communicology of transportation 143
Richard L. Lanigan INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICOLOGY INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON, DC Slugging: The nonce sign in an urban communicology of transportation 1. Introduction What does an 18th century printer’s slug in hand type setting have to do with big city “car pooling” in the 21st century? How does a single, new traffic law create an urban discourse? The answer to these questions is “slugging”. The term names the activity of “organized hitchhiking” or “instant car pooling”. As with any human group activity, an entire dis- course and system of communication emerged to facilitate the efficient operation of this communicology. The foundation of the slugging dis- course is a semiotic system based on the nonce sign, i.e., a sign used to signify a missing unit in a system that in turn allows the system to be coherent. More familiar nonce signs are the zero (0) in a number system (1–9) or the pause – the word itself is a nonce symbol – in speaking that creates units of sound articulation (phrases) in discourse formation and units of kinesic practice (gesture) formation (cf. Leach 1976). The more common nonce sign for anyone who uses a computer is the flashing in- sertion line, the cursor, on the computer screen. The cursor is the perfect examples since it is constantly present, then absent – a prototypical nonce sign of both Present-Absence and Absent-Presence! Simply put, a slug was originally a blank piece of metal used by type- setters to create spaces (or blank) between words to form a sentence....
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