What Is Semiotics? Short Answer Assignment

Topics: Semiotics, Linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure Pages: 2 (672 words) Published: October 25, 2005
What is semiotics?
Semiotics is defined as the study of signs in society, or theory of signs, what Saussure called ‘semiology' (Bignell 1986:5). Semiotics is about linguistic and non-linguistic signs: where linguistic signs are represented by lexical language or words (text), and non-linguistic are those which are represented in visual pictures (photographs). Semioticians are looking for the systems which are based on possible signs, it involves different signs such as words or images, everything what include a specific meanings in our society (Bignell, 1986:9).

What is a sign?
Sign is an object which represents the meaning or stands for something else other than itself. Saussure was focusing on linguistic sign, which is ‘word', he showed that linguistic sign is arbitary. For example, word (sign) ‘cat' stands for a particular animal. However this sign has no relation to the real visual image of a cat, as well as to its sound (Bignell, 1986:8). According to Saussure, sign is also consists of two components: ‘signifier' and ‘signified'. The sign is always involves ‘signifier' and ‘signified', and these two parts cannot be used one without another (Bignell, 1986:12). Signs obtain their meanings by contrast to other signs, shortly speaking, when one sign is not another sign. For example, a ‘cat' is not a ‘cot' or is not a ‘bat' (Bignell, 1986:9)

Explain the differences between the terms signifier, signified and referent. In Saussure's analysis of linguistic signs he defined a sign as being composed of a ‘signifier' and ‘signified' (Bignell, 1986:11). ‘Signifier' is the form which the sign takes. For instance, marks on paper, which are ‘words'. So, when the word ‘cat' is written on the paper, it consists of group of letters: ‘c', ‘a' and ‘t', this is the form, which the sign ‘cat' takes, therefore, it is signifier (Bignell, 1986:12). Another component ‘signified' is the concept, which the sign represents. It is the actual meaning, which the word...
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