11th October 2017 – Semiotics

Semiology – study of signs

Context changes meaning

Floriography – meaning / symbology of flowers

Semiotics / Semiology proposed as analytical framework by Ferdinand de Saussure (a linguist). His framework shifted the study of language from how they developed over time to focus on them as a system of meaning at any given time -> a structuralist approach.

Structuralism – an approach to understanding the world in terms of structures. e.g. Natural forms (body), social systems (the state), physical entities (fashion), cultural forms (art, fashion, literature).

Saussure argued language was arbitary, conventional and differential:

  • Arbitary: Nothing intrinsic fixing a word to what it represents (e.g. there is nothing “doggish” about the word “dog”.
  • Conventional: We understand words to mean things (e.g. Dog), because it’s a social convention we are used to.
  • Differential / different to other words in structure of relations: Using words in relation to each other to make distinctions between things (e.g. big day).

Sign = signifier / signified = word, sound, object, image / concept, idea, vision.

Signifier = plane of denotation. Signified = plane of signified.


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