The purpose of this paper is to describe how semiotics can be applied to the reading of oral literary texts. Semiotics do not accept the assumptions of positivist and metaphysical thought. It assumes that all meanings do not reside in facts or metaphysical ideas but in discursive systems. So, from this semiotic perspective, we can describe all meanings, including theme, consciousness, worldview and ideology, in terms of this system. In other words, everything we find in the text is encoded, so while we read the text, we can only decode it.
I will assume that decoding is the process of producing the interpretant which I interact with. It is the dynamic process of signification which Peirce calls ‘unlimited semiosis’. Decoding the oral literary text can be regarded as such a process.
In this paper, I will describe this process at some different levels.
First, I will assume that the oral literary text, that is differentiated from the written literary text, has its own characteristics that show its own artistic code. It comes from the contextual and performative elements of the oral text. We can establish the academic field of oral poetics systematizing these elements. I will show what kind of work can be done in this field.
Second, I will propose a structural method of analysing the oral literary text at syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels. It can be also applied to the written literary text.
Through this process, I will show that the semiotic method can demythologize the metaphysical belief that assumes the transparency of language.