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By nazmasmith Oct 18, 2014 5470 Words


I, the undersigned, hereby declare that this is my own and personal work, except where the work(s) or publications of others have been acknowledged by means of reference techniques.

I have read and understood Tutorial Letter CMNALLE/301/2011 regarding technical and presentation requirements, referencing techniques and plagiarism.

Nazma Smith
October 2014











The following portfolio will be examining communication and media semiotics through identifying the various functions of a sign in the provided photograph, textual analysis by analyzing a print advertisement of my choice, media and visual literacy through the examination of a film of my choice which portrays stereotypes about the African continent as well media, language and discourse in the provided newspaper article.

2.1.1 The signifier refers to the physical quality of a sign, such as a word, a photograph or a television image. These signs are physically observable, tangible and are concrete. The signifier refers to and / or represents something which is called the referent. The referent is the object / concept / idea the sign is referring to. The signified is the meaning attached to the signifier by the recipient it is abstract, impalpable and may vary from one person to the next. 2.1.2 Referential function relates to both the content and context of communication. This is what the communication is about, the key word is ‘’content’’ and one has to ask oneself ‘’which signs are used to represent the content of the message?’’. The Expressive function refers to the communicator or Addresser. It embodies the expression of the subject and incorporates the attitude, thinking, value and or feelings of the communicator regarding the subject of the communication. The keywords in the expressive function are ‘’attitude or feeling’’, the question one has to ask is ‘’what signs does the communicator use to convey his / her attitude about the matter in question’’. The Conative function refers to the message that is intended to influence the recipient and persuade him or her to adopt a particular point of view. In an advertisement intended to convert people to a particular brand / product these signs for example usually take the form of attractive models. When it comes to the conative function, the keywords are ‘’persuade, influence / convince. The question here will be ‘’ what signs in the message plays a conative role’’. The poetic function relates to the form or the ‘’how’’ of a message, it is generally directly related to the nature of the medium. Each medium has its own way of expressing a particular message the message might be the same but it would take on a different form in television as opposed to the printed media. In order to find the poetic function one has to establish which signs are used and how they are used to express the content of the communication in a particular way. The phatic function refers to those signs in the message that are specifically intended to establish contact with the recipient. In visual communication the phatic function would refer to the things in an image that immediately attract the attention of the viewer in printed media such as signs would be the layout and typography used and in language we would be referring to usage’s such as cries of joy, shock or anything else intended to draw attention of the listener or reader to something specific. The key words here are contact and one has to be able to establish which sign in the message are specifically intended to attract the attention of the recipient. Metalinguistic in simple terms are the signs in the message that are intended to throw further light on explaining or emphasizing the subject matter being communicated. In visual communication such signs would be the linguistic text such as captions to the photograph. The intention here is to make certain that the viewer understands the photograph or television image. In language it would be intonation, gestures and physical attitudes. In order to establish the metalinguistic function one needs to look for signs in the message that is principally intended to explain the message and make it more accessible to the viewers.

2.2 Application to visual to visual example

The following functions of a sign were discovered.
Referential, the photograph represents a scene where a group of what seems to be workers are protesting against something. One can conclude this based on their facial expressions that it is a serious protest and by the boards that they are holding. Expressive , it is clear that the photographer felt a certain way ( perhaps touched) by what he saw and wanted to take a photograph to capture the scene for others to see what has happened , perhaps to raise awareness. He could also have chosen to take a photograph of this particular group because their facial expressions were stronger than the rest of the people protesting. Connotative, the message is to raise awareness of what the protesters are protesting for and the aim is to influence others to act with or to create awareness in order for the viewers to adapt a particular view. Once again one can conclude this based on the facial expressions and signs. Poetic function, the chosen medium is a photograph that captures the moment as it happened which shows the event as it happened and this immediately draws the attention of the receiver to take a closer look. Phatic function , we are immediately attracted by the boards / signs that the protestors are holding as well as their facial expressions in the photograph immediately we want to know more about what these protestors are protesting against. Metalinguistic function , there is no explanatory caption to the photograph except stating that the photographer has given permission for this photograph to be printed this could mean that he perhaps wanted the photograph to speak for itself as we can roughly make out by the signs that there are holding up.


3.1.1 The three kinds of rhetorical practices are forensic, epideictic and deliberative. Forensic (or judicial) focuses on past actions, it either seeks to defend or accuse someone and it tends to focus on topics of justice and injustice. The main focus is proof and examination of evidence through which it seeks to make the audience predisposed to the position and person it is attacking or defending. A basic example of this is law and order during a court procedure. Epideictic (or demonstration) focus on the character or reputation of the person and attempts to persuade the audience to admire them for their goodness or dislike and reject them for their dishonor. Deliberative argument encompasses deliberating about possible future actions in relation to their desirability / undesirability. It seeks to persuade or dissuade the audience in relation to a future course of action. The arguer seeks to induce or dissuade the reader. 3.1.2 The three kinds of rhetorical practices are forensic, epideictic and deliberative. Forensic argument focuses on past actions and can be understood as the term suggests as the practices in court of law. It either seeks to defend or accuse someone and it tends to focus on topics of justice and injustice. The focus is proof and examination of evidence through which it seeks to make the audience predisposed to the position and person it is attacking or defending. Epideictic also known as demonstrative it focuses on the character or reputation of the person or persons and attempts to persuade the audience to admire them for their goodness or dislike and reject them for their dishonor. Deliberative seeks to persuade or dissuade the audience in relation to a future course of action for example a coffee shop advertisement that encourage people to come to their coffee shop because they offer XYZ which is better than any other coffee shop who offers similar XYZ. 3.1.3 The three modes of persuasion as Aristotle identified are ethos, pathos and logos. An ethotic argument invokes the personal character and quality of the speaker. This is effective when the person has first-hand experience which works to persuade the audience or where it is assumed that they are trustworthy. For example the late Nelson Mandela whose stature was that of an ethical person. A pathetic argument seeks to induce a particular mindset among the audience. Through pathos or an appeal to emotion they can be moved to pity , fear or even guilt as the arguer tries to get them into the kind of mindset that will make them open to the line of argument. Similarly an audience can be swayed by emotions of love, pity etc. to behave in new ways by flattering the audience as reasonable and intelligent. For example John will never steal from the cash register. If he did, he will be fired from work and will be sent to jail. Who will now finance the needs of his family? His wife does not have a job. He has three little kids who need the guidance of a loving father. Without John by their side, they will grow fatherless and, God knows, they may turn into homeless kids. John should not be suspected of committing the crime. Logetic argument is dependent on the logic or prof provided. An appeal to logos relies on two kinds of arguments either inductive or deductive in a deductive argument an assertion is made by making a series of statements. (Logos using a deductive argument) Chris was alone in the office at 8 o'clock in the evening. The crime took place at around 30 minutes past 8PM. Therefore, there is reason to become suspicious that Chris stole the money from the cash register. (Logos using an inductive argument)Chris has a previous theft record in the city police. He said the other day that he barely had any money left in his bank account and that he had no money to buy food. The security cameras also reveal that he was inside the store premises the night the crime took place. Therefore, there is reason to become suspicious that Chris stole the money from the cash register. 3.1.4 A deductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer to provide a guarantee of the truth. An inductive argument is an argument that is intended by the arguer merely to establish or increase the probability of its conclusion. 3.1.5 The types of inductive arguments are symptomatic argument, argument by analogy or argument of a causal relationship. However in all cases they relate to the particular context and propose that the argument is plausible. In a symptomatic argument an individual example is used to illustrate a wider example, terms such as ‘’typical’’ or ‘’characteristics’’ indicate this form of inductive argument. An argument by analogy draws on a comparison to make a point and will use words like ‘’ accordingly’’ and ‘’similarly’’ for example describing a group of people as rats thus implying that they should be treated as such. An argument of causal relationship assumes a cause – effect relationship and is the form of argument frequently used when attributing responsibility to the media for some social problem.

3.2 Application to visual example
(Please see Appendix A)
The following rhetorical practices were found:
a) Forensic: The advertisement is about stopping cruelty towards elephants. It is aimed at part of the audiences who hunt elephants for their tasks and parts of the audiences who buy the ivory illegally. b) Epideictic: The advertisements aim is for the audiences to be aware of cruelty and abuse of elephants and to reject cruelty towards elephant’s cruelty, giving the audiences to admire both the model in the advertisement as well as PETA for taking a stand against such actions. c) Deliberative: The aim of the advertisement is to persuade the audience who buy ivory, elephant skin or any parts of an elephants to stop. As well as to make parts of the audience who aren’t fully aware to be fully aware of the cruelty. The following modes of persuasion were found:

a) Ethos: The speaker which is PETA as well as the model is seen as people / organizations that are passionate about stopping the abuse of elephants thus showing their personal character. b) Pathotic: The advertisement plays on changing the mindset of the audience as well as on the emotions of the audience, for elephant lovers to feel pity and sad for what is happening and for elephant hunters and people who buy elephant parts to feel guilty and ashamed. c) Logetic: The advertisement is a deductive argument as it is telling us what is happening to elephants (beaten, abused) the premises are intended to provide strong support for the conclusion which is to stop the abuse against elephants. The advertisement provides a valid argument against the cruelty of animals this is further achieved by the model in chains to show the severity of the situation. Deductive and Inductive argument:

a) Deductive: If you buy any elephant related body parts or are involved in cruelty towards elephants. b) Inductive: The advertisement gives reason as to why cruelty towards elephants should stop and this is further illustrated by the model in chains just to show the severity of the situation. The following types of inductive arguments were picked up. a) Symptomatic argument: The advertisement indicates that perhaps only the natives are killing elephants but different skin groups kill elephants. b) Argument by analogy: the advertisement shows a woman in chains and it immediately crabs our attention as we are able to put ourselves in her shows because we are human and sometimes we don’t do this with animals because we don’t think of them as having the same feelings as what we would have. c) Argument by causal relationship: Regarding stopping animal cruelty the media has done their bit in promoting the stopping of animal cruelty and the advertisements have been very graphic and it has to some extend made people more aware of what’s happening to our animals. Although the poaching hasn’t stopped more people are aware of what is going on.


4.1 New Girl is an American sitcom that premiered on Fox on September 2011. The series revolves around quirky teacher Jessica Day who moves into a loft with three man, Nick, Schmidt and Winston. Jessica’s best friend Cece and old friend of the flat mates Coach also makes a regular appearance in the sitcom. The sitcom is a combination of comedy and drama elements and shows the characters who are in their early thirties deal with relationships and career choices.

For the narrative analysis I have chosen season three, episode one titled ‘’All in’’. The episode picks up right where New Girl Season two left off where Jessica and Nick realize that they in fact have feelings for one another and end up acting open it without the knowledge of the others and Cece after breaking up with Schmidt agrees to an arrange marriage and then ends up calling off the wedding on the day of her wedding because she realized that she in facts still have feelings for Schmidt.

My chosen episode opens up with Nick and Jessica deciding to go all in with their relationship which causes them to run away to a small Mexican town in Mexico where they camp out in Jessica’s car. When they run out of resources Nick comes up with the idea to steal food from a local beach resort which gets him arrested, sending Jessica into a state of panic. Meanwhile, Schmidt makes a decision about Cece and Elizabeth and comes to the conclusion that since he started dating Elizabeth first that he would stay with her. When he goes to Cece to break up with her, he cannot bring himself to break up with her. Thus he ends up dating both woman at the same time.

Later Cece stops by the loft and Winston unknowingly almost lets slip Schmidt’s secret (as Schmidt forgets to mention to Winston that he couldn’t break up with either woman.) Meanwhile Jessica enlists Winston and Schmidt to help her get Nick out of jail , Jessica is worried that they might not be able to get him out of jail and hopes he finds a friend in jail that would keep him safe. Eventually after paying several hotel workers that were no help, Jessica recognizes the security guard that arrested Nick and trades her car to be able to free him.

However instead of wanting to leave nick is worried if they leave Mexico things wouldn’t work out and wants to stay and work in the hotel , Jessica convinces Nick that although things will be hard but they will make it work. They somehow manage to get another car and head across the border back home, but before Nick and Jessica make it back inside their loft they start arguing but their passion quickly goes from fighting to romance while Winston and Schmidt look on with disgust.

4.2 Exposition introduces the reader to the two basic components that make up the story which are the principal characters and the space or environment that they occupy. Every narrative must have an exposition, but it isn’t always located at the beginning. The problems to be resolved in the narrative are usually stated in the exposition. In ‘’New Girl’’ we are introduced to the lead characters, Nick and Jessica. They are in a car talking about getting away for a few days and thus decides to go to Mexico.

Climax occurs when conflict in the story reaches its peak, while the climax is considered to be the most concentrated moment of the narrative it doesn’t signal the end in television programs as a number of small climaxes can be found and this is mainly to heighten interest in the narrative to ensure that the audience returns to the program. In ‘’New Girl’’ there are more than one climaxes we see Nick getting arrested in mexico sending Jess into a state of panic as she has no idea as to how she will be able to get him out of jail , we also see her searching endlessly for the security guard that took Nick. We also see another climax when Cece arrives at the lift surprising Schmidt , here we see Winston almost ruining Schmidt’s secret ( which is that he is dating both girls without them knowing). Later we also see Nick being quiet serious about wanting to live in Mexico forever because he is worried that they relationship wouldn’t last and wants Jess to stay with him, surprising everyone.

Resolution follows from the climax where the enigmas posed at the beginning of narrative are resolved. In ‘’New Girl’’ we see that Jess successfully convinces Nick to come home and explains that all we be fine , the team manages to free Nick and they all head successfully across the border. We also see that Cece finds out about Schmidt’s secret and leaves him

Denouement brings about closure to the narrative by rounding out the story. If a narrative ends without a resolution and denouement then we have an open narrative and in such a case the climax is referred to as a cliffhanger which is a device used to attract the audience to the next episode by using strong elements of suspense. In ‘New Girl ‘’ we see upon arriving at the loft that Nick and Jess starts arguing but their passion for one other takes over thus stopping them from fighting with one another. We can thus see that they will be alright thus giving the viewer’s closure regarding their relationship. 4.3 Vladimar Props Narrative model was initially used when Vladimar analyzed hundreds of Russian folk tales. He broke up fairytales into sections and through these sections he was able to define the tale into a series of sequences that occurred within Russian fairytales. The model usually consists of an initial situation after which the tale taking 31 functions, he used this method to decipher Russian folklore.

Proppian function
Events in New Girl
Initial situation
Jess and Nick are introduced.
Jess and Nick leaves the city to go to Mexico
Violation of interdiction
The villain (security guard) locks nick in prison.
Villain (security guard and hotel staff) tricks the team into paying them money for the exchange of nicks location. The team gets sent around the hotel paying money and receiving no information. 7

The team agrees to give money to villians in exchange for nicks location. 8
The team finds out that they have been tricked and therefore lost all their money. By working alone the find and free nick. 10
Jess negotiates with security guard and trades her car for nicks freedom 18
Villains defeated and nicks freeded
Misfortune is resolved , nick is freeded
The situation have been fully resolved
Jess the hero receives recognition

Sphere of action
Jess seeks help in order to save nick in prison
In order to get nick back to america
Winston and Schmidt assist jess in getting nick out of jail
In order to store equlibruim
Winston and Schmidt assist jess in getting nick out of jail




False Hero

5.1.1 The cognitive approach to visual perception refers to when readers perceive and ascribe meanings to that which they perceive (see or hear) on the basis of association. These associations can be based on past experiences or assumptions. Example includes. 5.1.2 Visual perception is personalized and subjective difference are minimized as readers grow older because they are exposed to the same mass media texts. Memories and associations that are based on readers experiences via mass media texts may be different but will not necessarily be highly personalized or uniquely subjective. Thus showing that meaning is not only situated in the manipulation of visual and other codes but that meaning is also situated in what readers bring to the mediated experience.

Projection is when some readers make sense and ascribe meaning to vague, ambiguous and unstructed objects or images where as others find the same objects or images meaningless. It is used as a research technique which requires subjects to respond freely to complete a story or a picture about which a subject must tell a story for example involving objects such as a doll house

Most of our visual perception is an unconscious act that takes place automatically this refers to selective perception. This selectivity of focusing only on important details is also reinforced by a mental activity called habitation which basically is when readers develop habits which through prolonged practice become activities and behavior that become relatively automatic and which are repeated unconsciously.

Salience refers to the degree to which something is prominent can affect our perception, because a stimulus that has meaning for a particular person will be noticed more by that person.

Dissonance is created when two or more stimuli compete for our attention such as following something on tv while doing homework at the same time. Visual messages are apt to minimize our perceptual abilities because they have the potential of causing dissonance.

Random meanings are assigned to communication that takes place without conscious choices or purposes and therefore does not necessarily convey any specific meaning.

Idiosyncratic is unique to an individual such as stroking something to relieve tension or bitting your nails , when observed they can assign highly individualized and idiosyncratic meanings and can be interpreted as signs of stress or irritation.

Shared meanings are often culture specific if unaware of these meaning readers could easily misinterpret such behavior as being too close to comfort.

5.2 Application to visual example

The movie ‘’War of Lords ‘is about ukrainian born ‘’ Yiri Orlovs’’ who’s family immigrates to America when Yuri was a boy, and who have falsely claimed to be of Jewish descent. His parents open a kosher restaurant in Brighton Beach, New York. Yuri witnesses a shoot-out between rival Russian mobsters, Lucky to escape alive, and it becomes a pivotal moment in Yuri’s life. “You go into the restaurant business because ‘people are always going to have to eat that was the day I realized my destiny lay in fulfilling another basic human need.” This was to supply weapons to countries that are at war.

Along with younger brother, Vitaly, they join forces and become arms dealers’ businessman. They start selling weapons to regimes suffering under sanctions and in the movie he is quoted by saying "I sold guns to every army but the Salvation Army". But Yuri arms business isn’t smooth sailing as he is constantly under threat - forced to stay one step ahead of a rival arms dealer and a dogged Interpol agent, Jack Valentine. The venture between the two are however short lived as later in the movie his younger brother discovers that he has no stomach for the business and develops an addiction for cocaine in order to deal with his brother’s career.

After checking Vitaly into a rehab clinic, Yuri continuous the business alone and starts selling mostly to countries in war-torn Africa. One of Yuri’s best customers proves to be African warlord Andre Baptiste, Sr., the ruthless dictator and self-declared President of Liberia.

By the mid-1990’s, Yuri's wealth catches up to his lies about his wealth - even surpasses his lies. Yuri remains unsure how much Ava (his wife) really knows about the true nature of his business or how much she is choosing to ignore. Eventually, the atrocities in West Africa resulting from the influx of weapons bring greater pressure from Interpol and the international community. Agent Valentine arrests Yuri but can't make the charges stick. One of Valentine's subordinates begs to kill Yuri but Valentine would rather let Yuri walk if the price of stopping him is his own humanity.

Yuri's double and triple lives starts to catch up with him. A rival arms dealer is killed partly by Yuri's own hand. Yuri has never fired a gun before, let alone killed a man. He goes on a binge of booze and drugs in the worst neighborhood in Monrovia but survives - Yuri believes he has the curse of invincibility.

To make matters worse, Yuri is also under threat from his greatest nemesis - the woman he loves. Ava confronts him about his work. For a short time, Yuri tries to become a legitimate businessman. But he cannot fight his true nature. It seems he is actually the addict of the family rather than his younger brother. He has to keep going because it makes him feel alive.

Yuri lies to Ava about his upcoming business trip and convinces Vitaly to accompany him on a job in Africa. The deal goes bad when Vitaly tries to intervene on behalf of a camp of defenseless refugees. Vitaly is gunned down in front of Yuri.

At this moment, Yuri faces a decision. He can destroy the arms shipment and lose his own life in the process or he can finish the deal.

Yuri does what he has always done. He survives. With his brother lying dead on the ground, Yuri goes back to the negotiating table and finishes the deal.

Returning to the U.S. with his dead brother’s body, Yuri is arrested at the airport. Yuri’s parents ostracize him - blaming him for his brother's death. Ava abandons him, taking their son with her. Agent Valentine finally has his man, Yuri is released from jail. His penance is to keep selling arms - but the tragic Yuri is alone, now. 5.2.2 The following cognitive elements were picked up in my chosen movie. Visual Perception which treats perception as a process involving mental events / actions related to knowledge and awareness. I had visually perceived ‘’Bad Guys ‘’ such as mobsters or crooks as people who have it all but it was only later and upon watching this movie that one sees the other side of these kinds of individuals which are how cold they really are and how much they lose in the end due to greed. Projection which is some individuals make sense or ascribe meaning to a vague object or image where as other will find the same image or object meaningless. In the movie if you look at Uri’s parents dinner to me it almost looks darker and almost poverty stricken in comparison to all the other business surrounding them and for me it symbioses his family’s life which is that they are poor, battling to make ends meets but trying to make an honest living by keeping the dinner open regardless if they are struggling. Selective Perception which occurs when reader’s only focuses on details / events of a visual message that are of interest to them and conforms to their expectations and ignoring the rest. Family is very important to me and the idea that Uri wants a family and has a family even though his arms dealer and a bad guy. Makes one focus on the fact that he is good because one wants to think that he still has a bit of good in him and that he will change and this is biased as it’s my own values and beliefs not necessarily his. Salience, in the movie Uri’s brother becomes addicted to cocaine in order to help him come to terms with his brother’s career choices, Yuri takes him to rehab numerous times almost as if he doesn’t want to take responsibility for his role in his brother becoming addicted to drugs. Dissonance in the movie Uri portrays himself as a family man but he is an arms dealer who has had numerous affairs and hardly has time for his son. Random Meaning in the movie his family and wife all choice to look the other way almost as if they are in denial about his career and sees him as a success but his brother who has a conscious as a failure for always relapsing and ended up in rehab. Idiosyncratic which is unique to an individual, and in the movie we see that Uri has a way of easily getting out of trouble and he tends to make jokes in serious situations which a sign of nerves and not everyone has the ability to make jokes and completely gets himself out of trouble by telling jokes. Shared Meaning in the movie we see that Uri’s family are very affectionate towards each other and they would kiss greet and hug each other this might seem to close for comfort in other cultures where this isn’t done. 5.2.3 The movie ‘’ Lord of Wars’’ portrays the African people as people who are uncivilized and whom are uncultured killing machines and it makes it seem that all African are this way inclined because some people have this stereotypical view of Africa as they only know Africa for its animals and assume the people in Africa would have animal instincts which is not true. Our cognition plays an important role as people tend to have preconceive thoughts of certain things that aren’t necessarily true and this could stop one from learning and seeing things in a different way ( stops one from being open minded about certain things ) and it could stop on from for example having selective perception thus only seeing what you want to see.


Reid, J & Van Heerden, M (eds). 2009. Only study guide Com303A for Com3703. Media studies: content, audience and production. Pretoria: University of South Africa. Fourie, PJ (ed). 2009. Media studies: Media content and media audiences. Volume 3. Landsdowne, Cape Town: Juta.

1. What have you learned (What knowledge have you gained by doing the portfolio task? I have learned how use my cognition to visually to be aware of any preconceived notions ,it has also made me look twice when looking at an advertisement because there were so many things that I wasn’t aware of such modes of persuasion and inductive arguments.

2. What skills, abilities and orientations (attitudes and values) have you accomplished?

I have learned to not preconceive and to be more open minded about certain things.

3. Which strengths could you apply in your future life and work environment? I can now confidently teach someone else about various textual analysis concepts and media and visual literacy. 4. Which shortcomings do you need to address in future?

To plan the various categories a bit better and to try and to not be as indecisive.

5. To what extent have you achieved the learning outcomes formulated for each study unit?

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