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Semiotics

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  • 1. Semiotics
    The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
  • 2. Semiotics
    the study of signs.
    The word “semiotics” comes from the Greek root, seme, as in semeiotikos, an interpreter of signs.
    Semiotics as a discipline is simply the analysis of signs and the study of the functioning of sign systems.
    Cobley, Paul. Introducing Semiotics. London: Icon, 2004. p. 4
  • 3. Signs
    According to Ferdinand de Sausurre, the founder of semiotics, a sign is composed of:
    The signifier – the form the sign takes
    The signified – the concept the sign represents
    Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html
  • 4. Meaning-Making
    Humans seem to be driven by a desire to make meaning; we are meaning-makers
    Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odors, flavors, acts, or objects.
    These have no intrinsic meaning; they become signs when we invest them with meaning.
    Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html
  • 5. According to Charles Sanders Pierce . . .
    “We think only in signs.”
    “Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign.”
    Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as “signifying” something – referring to or standing in for something other than itself.
    Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html
  • 6. Cecin’est pas une pipe
    The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture "This is a pipe," I'd have been lying!
    ~Rene Magritte
  • 7. What one must paint is the image of resemblance -- if thought is to become visible to the world.~Rene Magritte
  • 8. The Arbitrary Nature of Language
    “Central to Saussure‘s understanding of the linguistic sign is the arbitrary nature of the bond between signifier and signified.”
    A word is really just an arbitrary label that we’ve been taught to use to express a particular concept or idea.
    Cobley, Paul. Introducing Semiotics. London: Icon, 2004. p. 13
  • 9. Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter VI: Humpty Dumpty
    ~Lewis Carroll
  • 10. “Don‘t stand chattering to yourself like that,” Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time, “but tell me your name and your business.”
    “My name is Alice, but——”
    “It‘s a stupid name enough!” Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. “What does it mean?”
    “Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully.
    “Of course it must,” Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: “my name means the shape I am—and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”
  • 11. “There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents——”
    “Certainly,” said Alice.
    “And only one for birthday presents, you know. There‘s glory for you!”
    “I don‘t know what you mean by ‘glory‘,” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don‘t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there‘s a nice knock-down argument for you!”
    “But ‘glory‘ doesn‘t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument‘,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
  • 12. The Arbitrary Nature of Language
    There is no inherent reason why the word “tree” should indicate to the concept of tree
    The system only functions because signs signify meaning by virtue of their difference from other signs.
    Jacques Derrida called this différance
  • 13. Language and writing are two distinct systems of signs;the second exists for the sole purpose of representing the first.
    ~Ferdinand de Sausurre
  • 14. Différance
    Both speech and writing are systems of difference.
    Différance.
    Both words are pronounced the same exact way (especially in French), but the distinction between them can only been seen in writing.
  • 15. According to Jacques Derrida . . .
    Words and signs can never fully articulate what they mean.
    They can only be defined in relation to other words, from which they differ.
    Meaning is perpetually deferred through and endless chain of signifiers.
  • 16. Spectrum of Meaning Experiment
    Each word (sign) contains a relation between a material substance (signifier) and a mental concept (signified).
    Each word also contains a relation between itself and a system of signs outside itself.
    This leads us to explore the notion of connotation . . .
  • 17. Spectrum of Meaning Experiment
    Find all the words that are synonyms for said.
    Place them on the spectrum from
    Quietest  Loudest
    Do the same for synonyms for walk.
    Slowest  Fastest
    Do the same for synonyms for happy, sad, excited, angry, and funny.
    Least  Greatest
  • 18. Denotation vs. Connotation
    Denotation – the basic meaning of a word, independent of its emotional coloration or associations
    Connotation – the emotional implications and associations that words may carry, as distinguished from their denotative meanings.
    Harmon, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, 9th ed. Prentice Hall, 2003. p. 114, 144
  • 19. Denotation vs. Connotation
    Denotation = dictionary definition
    Connotation = context, connections, cultural
  • 20. Connotations can be . . .
    (1) private and personal, the result of individual experience,
    (2) group (national, linguistic, etc.), or
    (3) general universal, held by all or most people.
    Harmon, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, 9th ed. Prentice Hall, 2003. p. 114
  • 21. Signs
    According to Ferdinand de Sausurre, the founder of semiotics, a sign is composed of:
    The signifier – the form the sign takes
    The signified – the concept the sign represents
    Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.
    http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html
  • 22. Self-Assessment Process
    Rate your current understanding semiotics . . .
    1 = “I think it has something to do with signs”
    10 = “I fondly remember the day when I taught Monsieur Sausurre my new theory of semiotics.”
    Read the feedback on your work from yesterday.
    Rate your understanding of semiotics again.
    Discuss the image in your small group.
    Rate your understanding of semiotics again.
  • 23. Describe your work of art
    Using all four key terms we’ve covered:
    The signifier is the form the sign takes.
    The signified is the concept the sign represents.
    The denotation is the surface or literal meaning.
    The connotation is the implied meaning.
  • 24. Sign
    Signifier Signified
    Denotation Connotation
  • 25. DifferentTypes of Signs
    Match the two parts of each sign together – pair the signifier (physical image or sound) with the phrase that describes what is signified (the concept being represented)
    Sort your sign pairs into groups – see if you can figure out what they have in common with each other – if you need a hint, I will tell you how many different groups you should make
  • 26. Three Types of Signs
    Icon – a sign that physically resembles what it stands for – a literal sign
    Index – a sign which implies some other object or event – an implied sign
    Symbol – a sign with a conventional or arbitrary relation to the signified – a learned sign

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