Tattoo Langue and parole

Langue is used to identify the system of rules for any kind of information exchange that is independent of the user, and in turn, parole consists of specific meanings made of langue in the process of using of the latter (Saussure 1959). To develop the use of these concepts closely another example from the tattoo sphere will be applied – Russian criminal tattoo, the style that is, to a certain extent, a living classic of homemade tattooing.

The complex system of signs the tattooing of Russian prisoners developed into had several layers of functioning and meaning. First, one served as an hierarchy identifier, helping to carry out the subordination procedures that were strictly prescribed by the codex of the criminals. On the other hand, tattoos were also used to forcefully „stigmatize“ the representatives of the lower casts of the prison community (Baldaev 2006). Another function of Russian criminal tattoo is the communicational.

The designs of the tattoos constitute a complex language consisting of symbols that can carry great amount of information. The symbolism of this language is based upon personal characteristics relevant in criminal world such as „specialization“ of the convict, the type of the crime one was sentenced to, how many years convict spent in prisons, one‘s drug dependency, loyalty/unloyalty etc (Lambert 2000). In this way, the tattoos of the criminal constitute a CV of one, making all his life achievements visible to his fellow-convicts.

All the symbols used to identify abovelisted functions refer to langue, they constitute a set of agreed upon symbols that are specifically designed to carry specific information. In the same time separate cases of decoding of the information both by those capable of by possessing certain knowledge or incapable and thus misinterpreting is parole. For example, a random person on the street may think of tattoo lover as of a former convict, while a real former convict who knows how prison tattoos look like will never make such a mistake.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart
Select your currency
Scroll to Top