What is "semiotics"?
Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.
Why is semiotics important in studying representation?
Semiotics is important in studying representation because it guides and reveals the way signs communicate ideas, attitudes and beliefs to us.
- signifier and signified - the signifier is the sound associated with or image of something (e.g., a tree), the signified is the idea or concept of the thing (e.g., the idea of a tree), and the sign is the object that combines the signifier and the signified into a meaningful unit.
- paradigm and syntagm - the paradigm is the vertical set of associations; the syntagm is the horizontal, or sequential, arrangement.
- iconic, index, and symbolic signs - an iconic sign bears a resemblance to that which it represents and can be an image, images or graphical; an index sign has a direct relationship, or causal link, to that which it represents; while a symbolic sign is the relation between signifier and signified is purely conventional and culturally specific, e.g., most words.
- myths and binary oppositions -
the myths are connotations that appear to be denotations. This 'trick' allows myths, in
texts, to structure the meaning of the communication without appearing to do so, they efface their own existence; and binary oppositions, like all signs systems, are not natural descriptions but cultural creations. Binary oppositions are often structurally related to each other and function to order meanings.
- “Semiotics” of Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies by Nick Lacey (1998, pp.56-75)