EN190 Chapter 1-2:

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10 Jan 2019
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Chapter #1: Semiotics
Semiotics: the study of signs (and texts)
About everything we do is guided by various ideas/theories such as what we believe is
right and wrong
The idea that the world is open to interpretation has a strong connection to
semiotics (the study of signs)
The main idea of semiotics is that everything is a “sign”
Our culture has come to a common understanding of what certain signs mean
A sign is an object or a combination of objects that refers to something besides
itself, and it depends on others to recognize that it’s a sign
Ex. we don’t treat a halt sign the same as a stop sign even though halt and
stop are synonyms
A stop sign has meaning beyond the combination of words, colours and
shapes it carries weight and force of history, law and ubiquity.
Semioticians (“sign-readers) have a formal way to refer to signs
Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist believed that signs contain a
signifier and the signified
Signifier: object
Signified: its meaning
The system of reading: Making sense of Cultural Texts
Something signifiers have multiple/different signified
Ex. the word “pan” can be interpreted as an item to cook in, “panning” or
bread (if you speak Spanish), wide shot (camera),
This doesn't just apply to other languages
There’s also same signified but different signifiers
Such as “soda”, “coke”, “pop”
Signs isn’t just physical objects but a system of reading
There are also more complex signs that don't easily reveal their meaning
Ex. mona Lisa
The semiotic situation (or the moving next)
People tend to do this type of work all the time
Reading people and relationships
Reading the other person during a first date
Athletes read their competitors moves
Reading a friend’s house
Because we are always trying to make sense of the world, because we are always
reading, we are almost always in semiotic situations
We “read into things” as well as “read between the lines”
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