MDSA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Connotation, Universal Grammar, Binary Opposition
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What is rhetorical analysis
o Using the film as an alagory of modern day society
o We’re looking at signs and symbols and what they represent.
o All of our thinking, and use of signs its all symbolic, theres very little thinking that we can
do in which were not engaged in the interpretation of science.
o We are constantly looking at and interpreting various signs and symbols and they all
represent to us In some way
o “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – establish a symbol with diamonds, we tend to
associate diamonds with long lasting relationships
o Diamonds are associated with love and romance
o It’s an interpretive element. What do candles mean ? they can be associated with love,
to be associated with religious rituals (lighting the path , and averting away from
o Philosophers dealing with the origins of language were focused on how words are
symbolic and convey a concept.
Semiology: a science that studies the life signs within society
We are constantly processing everything around us
Signs are arbitrary, linear and are characterized by a difference
o The meaning of a signs is dependent on the social, historical and cultural context.
Signs are arbitrary and don’t have a natural interpretive element .
There is no such thing as a natural sign, and signs are constructed by humans,
and our interactions with the outside world.
Signs are linear because there is a direct meaning to things
Things are defined by their differences as well as similarities (UNDERSTAND the
meaning of hot by also interpreting the meaning of cold as well)
The connection between a signifier and the signified is arbitrary; no “natural”
relationship where meaning is given
Meaning by association
Binary opposition: things that are in opposition
o Guitar is a stringed instrument but its also not a violin, bango, etc. It’s a stringed
instrument but its not like other stringed instrument.
o To be a man is to not be a woman (polar opposites)
Some women have masculine traits or vice versa
There is nothing about any sign that is completely natural. What does it mean to
be a man? What does it mean to be a woman?
o When a given sign is said to denote or connote there is differences in meaning
o Connotation- we say one thing, and it carries an implied meaning of something else.
Liberal meaning (dictionary definition)
Neanderthal- denotation- monkey
Connotation: someone who is savage, and acts like a monkey
Savage , rude , disrespectful, uncivilized.
Universal grammar that we are born with and we can adopt and manipulate
Structural understanding that is deeprooted and shows how we understand
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