Understanding Semiotics For Dummies.

What is it?
Semiotics is simply the study of meaning and how we attach meaning to things such as;
The real world

Where does this come from?
Ferdinand de Saussure- 1857-1913.
He invented Semiotics. His argument is that anything visual or written is a system of signs.

Extra Information.

The meaning of a sign is generated by culture and common usage.
There are 2 parts we need to learn.
1. Signifier  – object, it’s form, image, word, sound ect.
. Signified.- meaning or concept.

Signifier- -we see an image of a tree- Tree- we recognise the image
Signified- Brain processing that it’s a tree.

Roland Barthes. Mythologies (1957)
1. Connotation- additional subjective to concepts we add
2.Denotation- refers to common sense and how we recognise the image.

The denotation will be an image of a cat. The connotation would be things like 9 lives, witches, bad luck ect.

Semiotics is more complicated when the signs are authored by people.

E.G. A photographer takes a photograph to convey a message and somebody else perceives it as something else.

Authors- created first when the author makes something.
Such as;

In semiotics this is called: Encoding.

Meaning is created when the reader..
♦Looks at the photograph
♦Looks at the painting
♦Reads the story
♦Watches the film

They bring their cultural knowledge to process and generate additional meaning.


Overall in Semiotics we try to find the whole meaning and look at all of the Signifiers and try to;
♦decide what the author meant
what it meant to us
♦what it means to others.’


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