Ferdinand de Saussure Specialist in Linguistics and Semiotics
Ferdinand de Saussure is widely considered as the one of the founding fathers of Semioticss. As we know Semiotics is the study of signs. Saussure demonstrated how the use of semiotics is the same as that of language or rather, the language of signs. “ The connection between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary” This quotation basically means that the meaning of a sign depends on it’s audience, as it will be interpreted differently depending on a whole range of factors that make up the audience these being; cultural influence, language and the actual context and instance the sign is under For example; Cat, in English or Katze in German, each word from a different language yet they are both the word given to the animal shown here Theory
This works also in terms of media, the actual meaning of a sign depends on the audience Sign = Signifier + Signified Object + Meaning For example; This image could be seen in a women’s magazine to advertise fake tan, or it could be seen in a man’s magazine as a piece of eye candy, and therefore the message this picture delivers is different depending on which magazine it would appear in
Biography 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913 Died aged 55, Cancer Swiss Saussures most influential piece of work entitled ‘A Course in General Linguistics’ was actually compiled from notes taken by two of his lecture students and was not actually published until 1916, three years after his death.
How does this help us as Media Studies students? This helps us as media students because it demonstrates to us how we need to use signs in our work correctly. Whether it’s a magazine or video production work we need to use the right signs to ensure that it’s audience is gaining the correct understanding and meaning from it. For example; On a very basic level, during a films opening sequence, shots containing landmarks such as the statue of liberty are used as a sign to help establish the location of where the film is set