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Dictionary of Symbols Paperback – Oct 4 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (Oct. 4 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312362
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #333,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Never before published in the United States, this authoritative four-part history, dictionary, and index of non-iconic symbols is a revision of the author's Symboler , published in Sweden in 1974. Part 1 concisely traces the historical development of symbols since their first appearance about 20,000 years ago, then develops several topical themes: astrological, hobo, and Nazi symbols, as well as modern business logotypes. Classification by form is difficult due to the diversity of symbols, yet about 1500 are painstakingly classified into 54 groups in Part 2 where the history, derivation, and meanings are described for each. In Part 3, verbal descriptions, e.g., "peace symbol," comprise the easily used word index. There are some oversights in the index (e.g., astrological signs, which are treated in some detail elsewhere, only appear sporadically), but this is not a major criticism. Part 4, a graphic index, references information in Part 2 by shape and form. All historical periods and geographical areas are treated. Engineering symbols are deliberately excluded. There is nothing else quite like this well-researched work; other titles are older or specialized. Although useful for scholars and specialists, this is excellent for general reference. Highly recommended for medium to large reference collections.
- Stanley P. Hodge, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


This book will certainly become one of the key sources for tracing symbols and their meanings. — American Libraries

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While the selection and classification structure of the symbols in the dictionary has much to offer, the actual _descriptions_ of the symbols leave plenty to be desired. The authour seems to come from an astrological background, and the gaps in his knowledge (particularly with respect to electronic, hobo, and non-Christian religious symbols) are evident throughout; especially when seen side-by-side with the verbose coverage of astrological and Judeo-Christian symbols.
While the classification scheme is amazing, and very well thought out, the actual content is rather below what I expected.
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Format: Paperback
Most books on symbols confine themselves to higher level abstractions such as "the lion" or "mercury" or the letters of the alphabet. Liungman's achievement is to create a comprehensive taxonomy for symbols that uses the most basic shapes as building blocks to create ascending chains of meaning. As such, it is an original work of scholarship rather than a gazetteer of common symbols. "The Dictionary of Symbols" is a gold mine of information for readers interested in graphic design or the "semiotics," if I may be allowed to use the term, behind supposedly abstract shapes and designs. Did you ever wonder about the significance of the Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen logos or the three diamonds of the Mitsubishi symbol? Would world history have been different if the Nazi swastika had pointed the other way? These and many other questions of similar nature are knowledgeably and enjoyably explored in this very impressive book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a rich sourcebook of information about graphic symbols from around the world. The text is detailed and covers the subject in depth. Several articles at the beginning of the book discuss the various uses of these signs and symbols around the world. The book's key failure, IMHO, is that the author uses an indexing system that is hard to follow. For example, you will found various kinds of crosses scattered through many categories. It is hard to understand exactly what led him to group which symbols where. On a few occasions, you will find symbols grouped with signs that seemingly bear no relationship in either shape or meaning. Use this book for the definitions, but be prepared to wade through a lot of material if you don't happen to know the name of the sign at the start of your research.
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