Tag Archives: signifier

Teasting your Knowledge of Semiotic Linguists

My (Cathy’s) research focus is on multiliteracies. Understanding the history and conceptual development of multiliteracies demanded I grasp a basic understanding of semiotics, or semiology.  Semiotics is a branch of linguistics that studies signs, symbols, and signification.  However, it is the study of how meaning is created, not what it is.

Sassureimages

Ferdinand de Saussure is generally credited as the father of semiotics.  His book Course in General Linguistics, was published posthumously by his former students Bally and Sechehaye.  It was through this work that Saussure’s Semiology Theory was made public.  His theory was based on the study of signs; a sign being anything that represented something else.  Saussure proposed that communication is a system of signs that convey meaning, but limited his work to the use of words, spoken and written.  Sassure’s most recognized semiotic terms are signifier, signified, sign and symbolic.  (Glossary at bottom of page)

To test our knowledge of these terms, I share the following three graphics. Does their signifier representation signify anything symbolic to you?

Lighthearted Semiotics

 

 M semiotics-copy

signs

 

Signifier: any material thing that signifies, e.g., words on a page, a facial expression, an image.

Signified: the concept that a signifier refers to.

Together, the signifier and signified make up the:

Sign: the smallest unit of meaning. Anything that can be used to communicate.

Symbolic (arbitrary) signs: signs where the relation between signifier and signified is purely conventional and culturally specific, e.g., most words.

 

http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/semiotics_and_ads/terminology.html

 

Semiotic Linguistic Quiz

Saussure   Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)

As of late, I (Cathy) have been exploring semiotic linguistics to further  my understanding of multimodality (Jewitt & Kress, 2003). Ferdinand de Saussure is considered to be one of two fathers of 20th century semiotic linguistics.  He described semiotics a as a system of signs that are created within a cultural context.  Sausuure defined a sign as being composed of:

        • a ‘signifier’ – the form which the sign takes; and
        • the ‘signified’ – the concept it represents.

On the internet I stumbled upon these diagrams which are intended to illustrate the meaning of signifier and signified.  Do you think they are both correct?

tree

rose