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  1. 1. Semiotics<br />The study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.<br />
  2. 2. Semiotics<br />the study of signs.<br />The word “semiotics” comes from the Greek root, seme, as in semeiotikos, an interpreter of signs.<br />Semiotics as a discipline is simply the analysis of signs and the study of the functioning of sign systems.<br />Cobley, Paul. Introducing Semiotics. London: Icon, 2004. p. 4<br />
  3. 3. Signs<br /> According to Ferdinand de Sausurre, the founder of semiotics, a sign is composed of:<br />The signifier – the form the sign takes<br />The signified – the concept the sign represents<br />Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.<br /><br />
  4. 4. Meaning-Making <br />Humans seem to be driven by a desire to make meaning; we are meaning-makers<br />Signs take the form of words, images, sounds, odors, flavors, acts, or objects.<br />These have no intrinsic meaning; they become signs when we invest them with meaning.<br />Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.<br /><br />
  5. 5. According to Charles Sanders Pierce . . .<br />“We think only in signs.”<br />“Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign.”<br />Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as “signifying” something – referring to or standing in for something other than itself.<br />Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.<br /><br />
  6. 6. Cecin’est pas une pipe<br />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!<br />~Rene Magritte<br />
  7. 7. What one must paint is the image of resemblance -- if thought is to become visible to the world.~Rene Magritte<br />
  8. 8. The Arbitrary Nature of Language<br />“Central to Saussure‘s understanding of the linguistic sign is the arbitrary nature of the bond between signifier and signified.”<br />A word is really just an arbitrary label that we’ve been taught to use to express a particular concept or idea. <br />Cobley, Paul. Introducing Semiotics. London: Icon, 2004. p. 13<br />
  9. 9. Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter VI: Humpty Dumpty <br />~Lewis Carroll <br />
  10. 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.”<br /> “My name is Alice, but——”<br /> “It‘s a stupid name enough!” Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. “What does it mean?”<br /> “Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully. <br /> “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.” <br />
  11. 11. “There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents——” <br /> “Certainly,” said Alice. <br /> “And only one for birthday presents, you know. There‘s glory for you!”<br /> “I don‘t know what you mean by ‘glory‘,” Alice said. <br /> Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don‘t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there‘s a nice knock-down argument for you!” <br /> “But ‘glory‘ doesn‘t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument‘,” Alice objected. <br /> “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.”<br />
  12. 12. The Arbitrary Nature of Language<br />There is no inherent reason why the word “tree” should indicate to the concept of tree<br />The system only functions because signs signify meaning by virtue of their difference from other signs.<br />Jacques Derrida called this différance<br />
  13. 13. Language and writing are two distinct systems of signs;the second exists for the sole purpose of representing the first.<br />~Ferdinand de Sausurre<br />
  14. 14. Différance<br />Both speech and writing are systems of difference.<br />Différance.<br />Both words are pronounced the same exact way (especially in French), but the distinction between them can only been seen in writing.<br />
  15. 15. According to Jacques Derrida . . .<br />Words and signs can never fully articulate what they mean.<br />They can only be defined in relation to other words, from which they differ.<br />Meaning is perpetually deferred through and endless chain of signifiers.<br />
  16. 16. Spectrum of Meaning Experiment<br />Each word (sign) contains a relation between a material substance (signifier) and a mental concept (signified).<br />Each word also contains a relation between itself and a system of signs outside itself.<br />This leads us to explore the notion of connotation . . . <br />
  17. 17. Spectrum of Meaning Experiment<br />Find all the words that are synonyms for said.<br />Place them on the spectrum from <br /> Quietest  Loudest<br />Do the same for synonyms for walk.<br />Slowest  Fastest<br />Do the same for synonyms for happy, sad, excited, angry, and funny.<br />Least  Greatest<br />
  18. 18. Denotation vs. Connotation<br />Denotation – the basic meaning of a word, independent of its emotional coloration or associations<br />Connotation – the emotional implications and associations that words may carry, as distinguished from their denotative meanings.<br />Harmon, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, 9th ed. Prentice Hall, 2003. p. 114, 144 <br />
  19. 19. Denotation vs. Connotation<br />Denotation = dictionary definition<br />Connotation = context, connections, cultural<br />
  20. 20. Connotations can be . . . <br /> (1) private and personal, the result of individual experience, <br /> (2) group (national, linguistic, etc.), or <br /> (3) general universal, held by all or most people. <br />Harmon, William and Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature, 9th ed. Prentice Hall, 2003. p. 114 <br />
  21. 21. Signs<br /> According to Ferdinand de Sausurre, the founder of semiotics, a sign is composed of:<br />The signifier – the form the sign takes<br />The signified – the concept the sign represents<br />Chandler, Daniel. Semiotics for Beginners.<br /><br />
  22. 22. Self-Assessment Process<br />Rate your current understanding semiotics . . . <br />1 = “I think it has something to do with signs”<br />10 = “I fondly remember the day when I taught Monsieur Sausurre my new theory of semiotics.”<br />Read the feedback on your work from yesterday.<br />Rate your understanding of semiotics again.<br />Discuss the image in your small group.<br />Rate your understanding of semiotics again.<br />
  23. 23. Describe your work of art<br />Using all four key terms we’ve covered:<br />The signifier is the form the sign takes.<br />The signified is the concept the sign represents.<br />The denotation is the surface or literal meaning.<br />The connotation is the implied meaning.<br />
  24. 24. Sign<br /> Signifier Signified<br /> Denotation Connotation<br />
  25. 25. DifferentTypes of Signs<br />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)<br />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<br />
  26. 26. Three Types of Signs<br />Icon – a sign that physically resembles what it stands for – a literal sign<br />Index – a sign which implies some other object or event – an implied sign<br />Symbol – a sign with a conventional or arbitrary relation to the signified – a learned sign<br />