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What is Semiotics?. Semiotics The study of –signification and communication –how meaning is constructed and understood –how signification changes in different.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Semiotics?. Semiotics The study of –signification and communication –how meaning is constructed and understood –how signification changes in different."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Semiotics?

2 Semiotics The study of –signification and communication –how meaning is constructed and understood –how signification changes in different contexts

3 Semiotics Ferdinand de Saussure (so-SIR) ( ) –It is possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life. It would form part of social psychology, and hence of general psychology. We shall call it semiology (from the Greek semeîon, 'sign'). It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them.

4 What is a Sign?

5 Sign A sign is an entity which signifies another entity.

6 Sign A sign is an entity which signifies another entity. We make meanings through our creation and interpretation of signs. Charles Sanders Peirce (purse) (1839 –1914)

7 Sign Whether something is a sign depends on a sentient entity ascribing it with meaning.

8 Sign Whether something is a sign depends on a sentient entity ascribing it with meaning.

9 Sign Whether something is a sign depends on a sentient entity ascribing it with meaning. leaf

10 Sign Whether something is a sign depends on a sentient entity ascribing it with meaning. ?

11 Sign Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign. Anything can be a sign as long as it is interpreted as signifying something by a sentient being.

12 Koko the Gorilla (view video)

13 What are the two components of a Sign? ? ? Dyadic Model (Saussure)

14 Components of a Sign Signified Signifier Dyadic Model (Saussure)

15 Components of a Sign Signifier is physical, sensual Signified is psychological Dyadic Model (Saussure)

16 Commonsense dictates that the signified, the concept, is primary. Signifier is physical, sensual Signified is psychological Dyadic Model (Saussure)

17 Signifier is physical, sensual Signified is psychological But many contemporary theorists consider the signifier, the medium of expression, just as important. Dyadic Model (Saussure)

18 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning Signs dont have an essential or intrinsic connection to nature.

19 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning Signs dont have an essential or intrinsic connection to nature. Meaning is structural and relational rather than referential.

20 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning Signs dont have an essential or intrinsic connection to nature. Meaning is structural and relational rather than referential. Signs refer primarily to each other.

21 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning Signs dont have an essential or intrinsic connection to nature. Meaning is structural and relational rather than referential. Signs refer primarily to each other. Signs only make sense as part of a formal, generalized and abstract system.

22 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning The word cat only makes sense in relation to other words: –dog –animal –pet –owner –cute –purr –lick –hunt

23 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning animal purr cute lick hunt owner dog cat

24 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning No sign can make sense on its own but only in relation to other signs.

25 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning No sign can make sense on its own but only in relation to other signs. The meaning of signs is in their systematic relation to each other rather than deriving from any inherent features of signifiers or any reference to material things.

26 Semiotics is about a System of Meaning The word cat has more in common with other words than it does an actual cat, or whatever a ??? may actually be.

27 Language is Binaristic and Negative Cat vs. Dog Man vs. Woman Nature vs. Culture Good vs. Evil Yes vs. No Black vs. White 0 vs. 1 Life vs. Death Gay vs. Straight Up vs. Down Cold vs. Hot Happy vs. Sad Sleep vs. Awake Free vs. Pay Pretty vs. Ugly West vs. East Paper vs. Plastic Republican vs. Democrat Healthy vs. Sick Few vs. Many

28 Things are defined not by what they are, but by what they are not.

29 red

30 Most of the information communicated is actually negative. red

31 Linguistic Signs are Immaterial (Saussure) Word signifiers have no material value magically embedded in their sounds or appearance.

32 Linguistic Signs are Immaterial (Saussure) Word signifiers have no material value magically embedded in their sounds or appearance. –This immateriality is their value. –If linguistic signs draw attention to their materiality this hinders their communicative transparency. –New words can be invented or imported as needed

33 Signifier is physical, sensual Signified is psychological Dyadic Model (Saussure)

34 Signifier is physical, sensual Signified is psychological Object in the real world or speakers mind Triadic Model (Peirce)

35 Representamen is physical, sensual Interpretant is meaning from decoding representamen Triadic Model (Peirce) Object in the real world or speakers mind

36 Three ways signs represent objects (Peirce) Symbol Icon Index

37 Three ways signs represent objects (Peirce) Symbol –Arbitrary or purely conventional –100% needs to be learned –language in general, alphabet, punctuation marks, numbers, Morse code, traffic lights Icon Index

38 Three ways signs represent objects (Peirce) Symbol –Arbitrary or purely conventional –100% needs to be learned –language in general, alphabet, punctuation marks, numbers, Morse code, traffic lights Icon –Resembling or imitating the signified –similar in some quality –portrait, cartoon, onomatopoeia, metaphors, sound effects imitative gestures Index

39 Three ways signs represent objects (Peirce) Symbol –Arbitrary or purely conventional –100% needs to be learned –language in general, alphabet, punctuation marks, numbers, Morse code, traffic lights Icon –Resembling or imitating the signified –similar in some quality –portrait, cartoon, onomatopoeia, metaphors, sound effects imitative gestures Index –existential connection to the signified –evidence, smoke, footprints, pain, thermometer, clock, knock on a door, photograph, handwriting,

40 Three ways signs represent objects (Peirce) Symbol Icon Index Signs can be one, two or all three of these at once.

41 What are some Symbols?

42 Words

43 What are some Icons?

44 Chirp chirp miu vroooom

45 What are each of these?

46 Icon of a real-world symbol (street sign) Icons Symbols Symbol What are each of these?

47 What are some Indices? (plural of index)

48

49 Semiotic Analysis

50

51 Olympic Style Guide for Beijing Citizens Semiotic Analysis (for foreigners to interpret Chinese people positively)

52 Olympic Style Guide for Beijing Citizens No wearing pajamas in public Semiotic Analysis

53 Olympic Style Guide for Beijing Citizens No wearing pajamas in public Westerners may read the person as crazy, or the culture doesnt respect personal boundaries and privacy. The Chinese government recognized that Westerners will read the pajamas incorrectly. Semiotic Analysis

54 Olympic Style Guide for Beijing Citizens No more than three color groups in your clothing. No white socks with black leather shoes No public displays of affection When standing toes should point outwards Handshakes should not last more than 3 seconds Semiotic Analysis

55 What are the intended signifieds?

56 Semiotic Analysis Man Sexy Healthy / Ripped Calvin Klein brand Comfortable Virility Package Inadequacy??? Jealousy??? Fear??? What are the intended signifieds?

57 Semiotic Analysis What are potential unintended signifieds?

58 Semiotic Analysis Homoerotic??? Corporate Propaganda Douche bag Alienated (from brand) What are potential unintended signifieds?

59 Semiotic Analysis How is the signifier shaping the signified?

60 Semiotic Analysis Black and white –form and mass rather than color –authenticity How is the signifier shaping the signified?

61 Semiotic Analysis

62 Transcoding (the signified)

63 Semiotic Analysis Transcoding (the signified) Minority groups often appropriate the language of oppression to assert power Black (Black is Beautiful from the 1960s) Nigger Queer Bitch

64 The CD cover of his album Put Yo Hood Up (2001) shows Lil Jon clad in a pair of black rubber coveralls, his open-mouthed expression of rage and intensity augmented by the added effect of gold teeth, sunglasses, and long dreadlocks, creating a general impression of a demented slaughterhouse worker or other grotesque. The draping of the rebel flag around his shoulders in the picture, far from constituting an endorsement, communicates the hostile occupation of a symbol. The cover image seems the worst nightmare of a white supremacist, a demonic, superpowered black man appropriating, occupying, and defiling the treasured symbol of Dixie.

65 Semiotic Analysis "I wear the belt for southern pride and to rebel.... I don't take the Confederate flag that serious as far as the racial part is concerned." Andre 3000 of OutKast I'm Sorry Miss Jackson

66 Semiotic Analysis Trans-coding (the signified) Other examples?

67 Semiotic Analysis

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