Represntation Semiotics

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    Edited by Stuart Hall

    The Open University Publication

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    Making meaning, representing things` Representation is production of meaning through

    language

    ` Oxford dictionary suggests 2 meanings

    `A) To represent something is to describe or depict it, tocall it up in the mind by description or portrayal orimagination; to place a likeness of it before us in ourmind or in the senses; as for eg. This picture represents ...

    ` B) it also means to symbolize, stand for, to be a specimenof, or to substitute for; as in the sentence, In Hinduism,the swastika refers to something holy.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    Picture

    ` Give meaning through language /make sense of theworld

    `We speak only the word i.e ... Which is a linguisticsign which we use in a particular language.

    ` This is representation` Representation is the production of meaning of the

    concepts in our minds through language eg. Apple

    ` It is a link between concepts and language which

    enables us to refer to either the real world of objects, people or events or imaginary worlds

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    Two systems of representation

    yAll sorts of things are correlated with a set of conceptsor mental representations which we carry around inour world

    yWe also make concepts of things we have never seen oreven heard of. Eg. Characters in books, god etc

    y It consists of different ways of organising, clustering,arranging and classifying concepts and of establishingcomplex relations between them. E.g. tea and coffee

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    ` Language is second system of representationConstructing meaning

    ` Shared concepts to be translated into a commonlanguage.

    `Words, sounds and images carrying meaning are called

    signs. E.g. Grape is a sign` Stand for the concept or conceptual relations between

    them which we carry around in our heads.

    ` Language is not only spoken or writing but visuals when

    used to express meaning.`At heart of meaning or language is culture

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    ` People belonging to a same culture share a broadly

    similar conceptual map` Therefore, share the same way of interpreting signs of

    language. Eg What ... goes

    `Visual signs and images are signs which have to beinterpreted

    `Visual signs are called iconic signs

    ` That is they bear in their form, a certain resemblance

    to the object, person or event to which theyrefer.`Written or spoken signs are indexical as they bear no

    obvious resemblance to things they refer. E.g. Apple

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    We fix meaning

    `Meaning is reconstructed by the system of

    representation.` It is fixed by a code

    ` It sets up a the correlation between our conceptualsystem and our language system in a way, that every

    time we think of an apple the code tells us to use thesign Apple.

    ` Codes fix relationships between concepts and signs.

    ` They stabilise meaning within different languages and

    cultures` They enable us to speak and communicate, andestablish translatability.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    y Translatability is not fixed by nature but by social

    conventions within a culture.y Meaning, language and representation are important

    elements in study of culture.

    y To belong to a culture is to know all the above

    yA window to our culture. E.g. Snow/ Barf is only one todescribe it in English/ Hindi but Inuits have 17 words forit.

    y Therefore, if meaning is the outcome of our social,

    cultural and linguistic conventions then meaning cannever be fixed. E.g. Gay

    y Meaning is a Construct, Produced

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    Theories of Representationy Three theories:

    y Reflective orMimetic; Lies in the object, person, idea, orevent in the real world and language functions as amirror to the real world.

    y Intentional Approach; It is the speaker, the author, who

    imposes his or her unique meaning on the worldthrough language. Words mean what the author meansto say.

    y Constructionist Approach; Recognises the public, social

    character of language. It acknowledges that neitherthings in themselves nor the individual users oflanguage can fix meaning in language. i.e. things dontmean we construct meaning.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    Saussure(father of modern linguistics)

    y Production of meaning depends on languagey Sounds, images written words, paintings ,

    photographs etc... function as signs within languageonly when they serve to communicate ideas....(TO)

    communicate ideas they must be a part of a system ofconventions

    yAnalysed signs into two further elements.

    y Signifier and signified

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    y Signifier- is the word or image

    y Signified corresponding image which it correlates to

    y The relationship between them is fixed because of ourcultural and linguistic codes sustainingrepresentation

    y Sign = Signifier + Signified

    y Signs are in relation to something e.g. Red is whatgreen is not or father

    yLanguage is fundamental to production of meaning

    y Simplest way of differences is binary opposition, i.e.Black/white

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    y Binaries are simple ways of establishing meanings.

    y There are many differences between black/ white

    y It is the difference between the signifiers which signify

    y But meaning is not constant, words shift their meanings

    y Concepts also undergo a historical change. Eg. Black

    y If the above holds true, then there is no single,unchanging true universal meaning.

    y The sign is subject to history and combination at theparticular moment of a given signifier and signified.

    y Therefore, representation to the constant play orslippage of meaning, to the constant production of newmeanings new interpretation.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    y Taking on meaning involves active process ofinterpretation

    y

    Meaning has to be actively read or interpreted.y The meanings we take as viewers, readers or audiences

    is never exactly the meaning which has been given bythe speaker or writer.

    y To order to stay something meaningful we have to enterlanguage.

    y Doing this we use stored information from previousyears, we can never cleanse language complete

    yA constant sliding of meaning in all interpretation amargin.

    y The reader is as important as the writer in theproduction of meaning is given and taken.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarain Ruia College

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    Social part of languagey Langue the language systemy Parole is actual speech or writing the speech acts

    which are made possible by the language (Culler)

    y Studying of underlying codes and rules as the social part

    of language is called structuralist.y Parole, the second part of language(utterance) was

    always seen as the surface of language.

    y It therefore lacked structural properties.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    y Language is social phenomenon

    y It cannot be individual matter because we cannot

    make up the rules of language individuallyy Studied linguistic is a narrow sense

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    From Language to culture: Semiotics

    The study of signs, culture and of culture as a sort oflanguage is termed as Semiotics

    One of the broadest definitions is that of Umberto

    Eco, who states that 'semiotics is concerned witheverything that can be taken as a sign' (Eco 1976).

    Semiotics involves the study not only of what we referto as 'signs' in everyday speech, but of anything which'stands for' something else.

    In a semiotic sense, signs take the form of words,images, sounds, gestures and objects.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    For the linguist Saussure, 'semiology' was 'a sciencewhich studies the role of signs as part of social life', for

    the philosopher Charles Peirce 'semiotic' was the'formal doctrine of signs' which was closely related toLogic (Peirce 1931-58).

    For him, 'a sign... is something which stands to

    somebody for something in some respect or capacity'(Peirce 1931-58, 2.228). He declared that 'everythought is a sign' (Peirce 1931-58)

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    y Since all cultural objects convey meaning and allcultural practices depend on meaning, they mustmake use of signs and in so far as they do, they must

    work like language works, and be amenable to ananalysis which basically makes use of Saussures

    linguistic concepts.

    y Therefore, we have Barthes in Mythologies studyingthe world of wrestling and soaps and detergents.

    y He bought this approach to popular culture , treatingthese activities and objects as signs as a languagethrough which meaning is communicated.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    yAll images are texts to be read, to be interpreted.

    y E.g. Mahabharat serial as signifiers and the code of the

    television soap opera as a genre, to discover how eachimage on the screen made use of these rules to saysomething, which the viewer could read or interpret.

    y E.g. Clothes are a good signifiers

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College

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    y Guernica byPicasso, depictedthe Nazi Germanbombing ofGuernica, Spain,by twenty-fourbombers, on April

    26, 1937during theSpanish Civil War,in which a numberof people variouslyestimated

    between 250 and1,600 were killedand many morewere injured.

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    y Denotation is simple, basic, descriptive level where

    consensus is wide. E.g She is wearing jeansy Connotations these signifiers we have been able to

    decode at a simple level by using our conventionalconceptual classifications of dress to read their

    meanings, enter a wider, second kind of code - thelanguage of fashion which connects them to broaderthemes and meanings, linking them with what, we maycall the wider semantic fields of our culture: ideas of

    elegance, formality, casualness and romance.y The second, wider meaning is no longer a descriptive

    level of obvious interpretation.

    Sneha Subhedar, Department of Mass Media, Ramnarian Ruia College