Semiotics q1b


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Semiotics q1b

  1. 1. SEMIOTICS The Study of ‘Signs’ as a tool for Textual Analysis
  2. 2. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>A sign in the study of semiotics can be any image, word, or sound. </li></ul><ul><li>Useful tool in image analysis and construction. </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotics focuses upon a process called signification . </li></ul>
  3. 3. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>Linguist Ferdinand de Sassure argued that a ‘sign’ is made up of two parts the ‘signifier’ and the ‘signified’. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘signifier’ refers to a physical entity (e.g a word, sound or an image). The ‘signified’ is the mental concept evoked by the ‘signifier’ </li></ul><ul><li>E.g the image of a furry animal that barks ‘signifier’ evokes the mental concept of a dog (‘signified’) </li></ul><ul><li>Also if we see ‘dog’ written down on a piece of paper this will evoke the mental concept of a ‘dog’ </li></ul>
  4. 4. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>SIGNIFIER SIGNIFIED </li></ul><ul><li>(physical form) (mental concept evoked) </li></ul><ul><li>SIGN </li></ul>
  5. 5. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>This basic level of signification operates at the level of ‘denotation’. In other words we are simply identifying or ‘describing’ a sign. </li></ul><ul><li>A more complex level of signification operates at the level of ‘connotation’ these are more sophisticated mental associations we conjure up when we come across a particular sign. </li></ul>
  6. 6. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>Denotation </li></ul><ul><li>furry animal, four legs, barks </li></ul><ul><li>Connotation </li></ul><ul><li>dirty, friendly, ‘mans best friend’ dangerous, etc.. </li></ul>
  7. 7. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>A connotative response is less fixed that a denotative response and the associations ‘signified’ may well depend upon the individual, society or culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Cow (in western societies) = food, farms, BSE </li></ul><ul><li>Cow (in Hindu societies) = sacred, holy, respect </li></ul>
  8. 8. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>Exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Write down a description of the class room at the level of ‘denotation’. </li></ul><ul><li>Add ‘connotations’ to your description. </li></ul>
  9. 9. SEMIOTICS <ul><li>Exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Write down a description of the class room at the level of ‘denotation’ </li></ul><ul><li>Add ‘connotations’ to your description. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Signifier Signified Dog SIGN (denotative) Signifier Signified Friendly SIGN (connotative) Remember at the second level of signification meaning is less ‘fixed’. The number of connotative response to the image of a dog will be varied and numerous although some will be more common than others. Shared connotations can be described as ‘socially agreed’ Furry animal, four legs, barks Dog The two levels of signification: DOG
  11. 11. Barthes and ‘Myth’. Roland Barthes argued that some connotations are so widely held that they reach the level of ‘ myth ’. Barthesian ‘myths’ have nothing to do with stories or legends and should not necessarily be seen as falsehoods. A ‘myth’ according to Barthes is where a ‘socially agreed’ symbolic association becomes so widely accepted that it is seen as ‘natural’.
  12. 12. Barthes and ‘Myth’. For example this image of Marilyn Monroe could be seen to represent the female sex. A woman wearing make up, having long hair and wearing a dress or skirt are seen as being ‘natural’ signifiers of the female sex when in fact that are ‘socially agreed’. Gender is ‘socially agreed’ where as sex is biologically determined. Barthes would argue that whilst this image could be seen as representative of a woman it is actually purely symbolic .
  13. 13. Application of Semiotics <ul><li>Semiotics can be a very useful tool in textual analysis in terms of uncovering the meaning of a text. </li></ul><ul><li>You can use the principles of Semiotics to analyse existing media products as well as your own practical work. </li></ul>