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words, words, words, and words

Chingsin Wong

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of Semiotics

Semiotics Barthes was convinced that semiotic savvy can spot the hollowness of connotative signs a prisoner wrote a letter to the woman he loved before he's released from the prison. introduction The making of myth Unmasking the myth with homogenous society Comics Half-eaten sandwich Wrestling with signs After three years in jail, the prisoner is about to be released.
He will travel home by bus and he will be able to see the huge oak tree in front of the lady's house The Yellow Ribbon
Transformation In order to avoid possible rejection and embarrassment, he has a plan: if she still loves him, she should tie a yellow ribbon around the trunk of the oak tree. He asks the lady to use the tree as a message board, Transformation of yellow ribbon:
from forgiveness to pride So..... at first......
The yellow ribbon
a sign of acceptance/ forgiveness Analysis meow Charles Peirce's
Triadic Model Sign interpretant object representamen The Song Symbolic:
no resemblance
cultural convention examples:
red lights
mathematic symbols
words (almost) Iconic:
have resemblance to perceived senses such as look, sound, taste, smell and feel. examples:
cartoon art, onomatopoeic words (POW!), shadows, indexical:
direct connection
cause-effect examples:
smoke = fire
fever = sick no direct relationship sense of sign made in the mind
AKA the signified sign vehicle or form of the sign
Saussure: the signifier
Peirce: the sign physical object
its something beyond the reference (this is the actual spelling according to Peirce) Cinesemiotic semiotics in filmaking

using obvious symbolic signs
courtroom - justice
high, shrieking noise - thrills, suspense Realistic film
- natural scenes and actions, the world as it is than the signified
- capture the indexical connection
reality than imaginary

Expressionistic film
-iconic signs representing fantasy world
- interpretations of life that are hard for viewers to resist by Tony Orlando Barthes claimed every ideological sign is the result of two interconnected sign system Denotative system Connotative system is strictly descriptive as the signifier image and the signified concept combine to produce the denotative sign. A mythic sign that has lost its historical referent; form without substance American
Yellow ribbon – “We’re number one”

Mythic signs don't explain, defend, or raise questions

Left- leaning student
Black ribbon –- anti-war
Yellow ribbon -- perpetuated the destructive nationalism The Semiotics of Mass Communication Semiotic signs gain cultural prominence

Signs are integral to mass communication

Barthes’ semiotic analysis become a seminal media theory Media – 1.not informative, but always political
2.achieve something else

Advertisement – create layers of connotation Denotation literal meaning of a sign
denotation of a word is its explicit definition as listed in a dictionary Connotation To connote is to add emotional or judgmental characteristics, which are often subjectively perceived.
emotions and associations connected to a word For example.... "The house is very big" (Denotative) "The house is as large as a fine restaurant," (Connotative) denotation: red rose with a green stem connotation: a symbol of passion and love and later on......
- as a support for military during the Vietnam war
- in 1991 When U.S. armed forces fought in Operation Desert Storm -> "Welcome Home"
- served as a blatant sign of nationalism
- pride in victory Semiotics A study of the social production of meaning from sign systems

Semiotics involves the study not only of what we refer to as 'signs' in everyday speech, but of anything which "stands for' something else."

In a semiotic sense, signs take the form of words, images, sounds, gestures and objects. Roland Barthes • Cultural theorist and analyst

•Held the Chair of Literary Semiology at the College of France.

Barthes is interested in signs that are seemingly straightforward, but which subtly communicate ideological or connotative meaning.

•Barthes had an unusual style for an academic and was extremely influential.
• Mythologies:
•The book which contains these studies of everyday signs.

He sought to decipher the cultural meaning of visual signs, particularly those perpetuating dominant social values.
“Thauvin, a fifty-year-old with an obese and sagging body…displays in his flesh the characters of baseness…I know from the start that all of Thauvin's action,

his treacheries cruelties and acts of cowardice, will not fail to measure up to first image of ignobility he gave me…The physique of the wrestlers therefore constitutes a basic sign, which like a seed contains the whole fight.” Mythic signs – reinforce the dominant cultural values.

Example: wrestling match

Ideological signs – pretending that current conditions are the natural order of things. The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a verbal sign is arbitrary.

E.G. the word Referee

The relationship between the signifier and the signified in a nonverbal sign is based on affinity and is therefore quasi-arbitrary. A sign does not stand on its own:
It's part of a system A structural analysis of features common to all semiotic systems is called taxonomy.

Barthes believed semiotic systems function the same way despite their apparent diversity.
Significant semiotic systems create myths that affirm the status quo as natural, inevitable, and eternal. Barthes' graphic description of the body of a wrestler........ The structure of signs is key to Barthes’ theory. The combination of its signifier and signified. The signifier is the image;
The signified is the concept. Signifier: the image of the wrestler's physique Signified: the concept of ignorance or injustice Sign: Villainous body Barthes initially described semiotic theory: explanation of myth

Then, he substituted the term "Connotation" to label the ideological baggage that signs carry wherever they go

Myth: The connotative meaning that signs carry
wherever they go; myth makes what is cultural seem natural

his thinking was influenced by Ferdinand de Saussure, who coined the term semiology to refer to the study of signs. Forgiveness Pride example:
onomatopoeic words
cartoon art Connotative systems always support the values of the dominant class? Critical Thinking: do mythic signs always reaffirm the status quo? No, not really Anne Norton expanded Barthes' semiotic approach -seems supporting the traditional view D Dick Hebdige
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