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  1. 1. Signs and Codes (semiotics) The Language of the Media
  2. 2. We will cover: <ul><li>How signs contain a variety of meanings </li></ul><ul><li>Reading signs (Denotation, Connotation & Anchorage) </li></ul><ul><li>Codes </li></ul>
  3. 3. Media texts and Signs <ul><li>Media texts ( magazines, music videos, adverts and films) are made up from signs. </li></ul><ul><li>They are the language of the media. </li></ul><ul><li>A sign is anything we see or hear . </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. a colour, an expression, clothing, an object etc…. </li></ul>
  4. 4. What makes up a Sign? <ul><li>Signs are made up from 2 elements: </li></ul><ul><li>What is denoted/ the denotation: The actual image – literal description of what you see </li></ul><ul><li>What is connoted/ the connotations : The meaning that the image (sign) suggests </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>What does this image denote? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the connotations of this image? </li></ul>
  6. 9. Problems with signs?
  7. 10. Problems with signs <ul><li>A single sign (image/sound) can have many, many different meanings – this is called polysemy (signs are polysemic.) </li></ul><ul><li>When two or three or more signs are combined there can be hundreds of different possible interpretations! </li></ul><ul><li>This can result in media texts becoming misunderstood. </li></ul>
  8. 11. Dominant/Oppositional <ul><li>Dominant reading : This is the most obvious interpretation of a sign </li></ul><ul><li>Oppositional or Alternative reading : This is an interpretation that is the opposite of the media producer’s intended meaning. This can be influenced by culture, religion, geographical location </li></ul>
  9. 12. Task 1 <ul><li>a) For each image describe what it denotes, and then the connotations of that image. </li></ul><ul><li>b) How many different readings can you find for the same image? </li></ul>
  10. 14. Problems with Signs <ul><li>How can this issue be resolved? </li></ul>
  11. 15. Codes Another factor that helps eliminate confusion is that signs often work in groups . The mixture with other signs often helps define what a particular sign means. For example: what are the connotations of the colour red?
  12. 16. Codes
  13. 17. Codes
  14. 18. Yet, when we see red combined with these other colours and in this particular shape sequence, we are rarely confused about what red means! The combination of signs (a code) helps clarify what each particular sign in the code means out of all the possible meanings. It teaches us that we do not tend to read a sign in isolation but in the context of its surrounding signs.
  15. 21. Anchorage <ul><li>Anchorage means to “ fix” or “limit” meanings or interpretations. </li></ul><ul><li>Producers of media texts do this so we can understand their message – created through signs/codes. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s most common form is a caption underneath a photograph (but it can be done in many different ways!) </li></ul>
  16. 23. Mary Smith wins national rose contest
  17. 24. Serial Killer “ Mad Mary ” found in rose bush
  18. 25. Task 2 <ul><li>Using anchorage fix the meanings of these images </li></ul><ul><li>Look for possible alternative or completely opposite readings. Do your words create new meanings? </li></ul>
  19. 26. Cropping <ul><li>To further “shape” or “guide” our interpreta tions of media texts cropping is used. </li></ul><ul><li>Certain parts of an image can be selected to help promote and emphasise a chosen emotion, political agenda etc or to influence viewers interpretation of events. </li></ul>
  20. 27. Family Fun Day a Success!
  21. 28. Fast Food Addiction Reaches New High
  22. 29. Low intelligence in British children linked to Fast Food
  23. 30. TASK: In each of the following images what do the black clothes signify? How have the other signs in the scene helped you arrive at this interpretation?
  24. 34. Polysemy <ul><li>Polysemy is where a sign can have different meanings to different people. </li></ul><ul><li>This is generally avoided with anchorage etc… </li></ul><ul><li>However the meanings/ connotations we attribute to signs and codes is also due to our upbringing – culture, religion, politics, parents – our cultural or referential knowledge. </li></ul>
  25. 39. Conclusion <ul><li>You should now have an understanding of the following terms : </li></ul><ul><li>A Sign </li></ul><ul><li>Denotations </li></ul><ul><li>Connotations </li></ul><ul><li>Dominant reading </li></ul><ul><li>Oppositional/ alternative reading </li></ul><ul><li>Anchorage </li></ul><ul><li>Cropping </li></ul><ul><li>Codes </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural or referential knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Polysemy </li></ul>