Semiotics – Signified, Signifier, Denotation and Connotation

In continuation to yesterdays post, here I will be talking about the the various smaller parts that make semiotics what it is. The terms that are used within semiotics are as follows:

Signified and Signifier
Signified and signifier are terms that refer to how people see and their interpret the things that they see (touch, hear etc.). They are the two requirements of what makes a “sign”. The two work in a way that can differ from person to person.

Signified represents what a person has seen or heard. An example of this could be that a person is asked to retrieve something that was left behind on a tree, as the person is hearing the information and it enters their mind.

A signifier on the other hand, represents how that information is processed within that persons head, and how that information is interpreted into thought. In this case, the person arrives to to the area where the tree is, but their mind only understood the word tree and thus they do not know which tree the other person meant.

Both of these factors must be present in order to understand any mental sign. Due to the fact that people think in different ways, most signs may be interpreted by people in varying ways because of their own mind-set. There are however, rumors that the signified term is actually just a myth, and that everything you here or see is just your own interpretation of it, meaning that it is all signifier.

Denotation and Connotation

Denotations and connotations are terms that are very similar to the previous two sign terms, as they refer to how someone personally reacts to something that they see or hear. This means that when a person hears or sees something, they feel a personal response within their mind towards said sound or object.

Denotation is somewhat similar to signified as it refers to what a person sees or hears in front of them. The difference is however that denotation is used to describe that sound/object to its most simplest level. For example, if I was to look at a photo-album, the denotations would be things such as: photos, black and white image etc..

Connotations are also similar to signified as they refer to the thoughts that are created when a persons sees an object/sound, however, this is on a more personal level. I say this as connotation means what the thing means to them, and what it makes them think of. I this case, when looking at the photo-album, aspects such as the photos would remind me of things like memories and good times, while things like how the photos are black and white would make me think of them as being old fashion.


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