Semiotics Part 2


Saussure said there is no natural connection between the signifier and the signified. This is purely arbitrary (“random” [sic]). Different words for cat, dog and so on across different languages. Most words are culturally learnt. Only a few sound like (or look like?) the thing they describe (“boom”, “kerplunk”, “quack”).

The idea that language is symbolic and has to be learned is important. It promotes the idea that language is also valued.


(Cat in different languages) cat, chat, bissay, domadh, mace, gatu, phisi, sinta…..and so on.

Signifiers in Context

Semiotics works in context. A dog is understood as a dog because it is also not anything else.

But the word “dog” (a signifier) can have different meanings in different contexts, and this is how we understand the signified.



Source: Daniel Chandler

  • She , might, go
  • You, should , go


  • IRA, freedom fighters, freed
  • IRA, terrorists, attacked


  • Cowgirl, in jeans, On trotting ,donkey

{The Worm at on your mat}


  • All signifiers are syntagms 

P              S

 Boxes        Chocs

Wardrobe  Clothes

Library        Book


What do think is going in the picture, and what makes you think that?:  Cowboy lighting up a cigarette. Know he is a cowboy due to the hat and his outfit plus the whip. The colours remind me of the desert which are also linked to cowboys.

Pl. noun

  • Balls
  • Fluffy
  • Nuggets

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