Saussurean and Peircean systems
The funny thing regarding a classrooms preference to using Peircean semiology at all times came from the fact that none of those students ever became comfortable enough to use it. None of them had the courage to undergo the mammoth project of beginning to read C.S. Peirce and trying to develop their own personalized understanding of the great thinker semiotic theory. This however, did not keep any of the said students from expressing opinions stating the Saussurean system to be generally inferior. The oversimplified reasoning tended to hinge on Peirce’s inclusion of an interpretant. It would seem to the students that the arbitrary relationship of the sign simply could not be complete without an understanding that a sign stands for something to someone in some capacity (or another). I however am not convinced it is as simple as all that. The two systems are, simply enough, two systems that model subjects in two very different lights. The Peircean system finds a greater popularity with semioticians due to a versatility it provides when dealing with a favorite subject of semioticians – namely that of establishing meaning through interpretation. The Saussurean systems assumes an agreed upon meaning before any analysis, and thus has different functions in its analysis (namely, that of understanding a term within the system that contains it.
Perhaps the difference can better be understood via an anecdote. Not too long ago I went with some friends to see Quentin Tarantino’s awful Django Unchained and took the unfortunate position of proselytizing that the movie in actuality mispronounced the title character’s name (and what is worse, constantly incorporated into the movie via a series of very stupid jokes). This of course brought upon me a fair amount of criticism from the company I kept (much of that hinged on the same bad jokes from the movie). That the conflict did not really resolve itself between me and my friends is not to the point of the argument I am here trying to make. What is to the point is that my argument is Peircean in nature while my friend’s is Saussurean.
My reasoning for the disagreement was that I took ‘Django’ to be a derivative form of the name of one of the Gods from the Yorùbá religion. I have as well seen the name of this God written Xango or Shango, but most notably the first time I heard the name of this deity referred to in spoken language it was through a Brazilian song in which the pronunciation was most notable /ʒænɡoʊ/. As well, the only other times I had encountered the very rare English digram ‘dj’ I had always been instructed to pronounce it /ʒ/.
All this, however, may be completely irrelevant. Language at the end of the day is an agreement, and unfortunately the agreement can easily be swayed by a powerful force such as a pop culture movie. All the tradition and well-reasoned arguments would be powerless against a popular movement to change the language, even if the change was something as barbaric as pronouncing ‘knight’ as /kˈnˈaɪt/. If there is to be meaningful communication in the world we must use language in its simplest agreed upon way. Which means bending to the will of the majority in spite of a deep conviction that indeed you are right. Oddly enough, it is exactly this need to communicate that provokes me into the linguistic conservatism of defending a traditional way of speaking over a spontantious change – mostly for fear that such change is very often not uniform. The counter argument to my friends – had I cared to make it – was that if we do take language to simply be an agreement, than we must always settle on the most agreed upon pronunciation, even when we have good reason not to use it. To them I would have brought up that if that is how they would have liked to play the language game, then surely the awful Americanism /bruʃetta/ is correct as opposed to the actual Italian /brus’ketta/.
 The mispronunciation jokes all failed to me because they required a knowledge of how the name is spelled that never seemed to make itself apparent to many of the characters on to whom the joke fell. In other words, the characters that are introduced to the title character only ever hear his name /jango/( ʤˈænɡoʊ). Somehow, the later end up mispronouncing his name as /Django/(dˈʤænɡoʊ) How they were introduced to the notion that the name would have a ‘D’ in it at all is beyond me. Not once are we made to understand that they have seen the name written. So how was it that they came to misunderstand the name to begin with? Sorry Quentin, But you cannot hear a silent D.
 From those unfamiliar with phonetic transcription, /ʒ/ is pronounced as one would pronounce the middle sound of the word vision.