Semiotics Poster Content

Semiotics, or semiology, is the study of signs, symbols, and signification. It is the study of how meaning is created, not what it is. Below are some brief definitions of semiotic terms, beginning with the smallest unit of meaning and proceeding towards the larger and more complex:

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 (or to tell a lie).

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

Iconic signs: signs where the signifier resembles the signified, e.g., a picture.

Indexical Signs: signs where the signifier is caused by the signified, e.g., smoke signifies fire.

 

Denotation: the most basic or literal meaning of a sign, e.g., the word “rose” signifies a particular kind of flower.

Connotation: the secondary, cultural meanings of signs; or “signifying signs,” signs that are used as signifiers for a secondary meaning, e.g., the word “rose” signifies passion.

 

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