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Communication Theory

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  • June 2008
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Semiotics is the study of signs or a sign system. Semiotic techniques enables the 'analogy of language as a system' to be 'extended to culture as a whole' (Chandler 2004, 1). Semiotics permits a unifying conceptual framework that encompasses the whole range of signifying practices, including gesture, posture, dress, writing, music, speech, photography, film, television and radio (Chandler 2004). The Australian Celtic Festival offers a unique opportunity to apply semiotic techniques to gain a broader understanding of Celtic representation. In her book The Imaginary Australian, Miriam Dixson (1999) maintains that Anglo-Celtic culture 'with its great virtues and real defects, has held the society together for over two centuries' (36). This analysis will use semiotic terminology to gain a greater understanding of the Celtic culture.

The Australian Celtic Festival is attended by Clans, National Clans, pipe bands, artists, and spectators in a celebration of Celtic culture, including gesture, dress, music, art and other signifiers of meaning. Looking at a culture from a semiotic perspective enables us to comprehensively connect a number of signifiers and their meanings in order to gain a fuller understanding of that culture. As Chandler (2004) maintains, 'Semiotics makes us aware that the cultural values with which we make sense of the world are a tissue of conventions that have been handed down from generation to generation by the membe

. . .
ionship between the signifier and the signified is referred to as signification' (Chandler 2004, 6). The use of sounds as signifier accompany the displays of standing stones, in the form of skirling pipe players. Skirling, a shrill cry or sound, represents meaning to the Celts on a number of levels, from warfare to victory celebration. The Australian Celtic Festival also holds ceremonies during which flags are unfurled and hoisted. These flags or signifiers embody enormous signification to Celts. The Isle of Man Manx Flag...

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