Semiotics Paper - 1 Coms 385 I Love Paris with a Hamburger...

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1 Coms 385 1/19/10 I Love Paris with a Hamburger Messages can often be hard and sometimes difficult to decipher. Using a method of analysis, such as semiotics, to interpret a message that is being communicated can be an effective way to understand the meaning behind the message. The majority of advertisers use the commercials for their products as a way to get a message across to their audience. By using semiotics, the critic or audience of the commercial can translate not only the message that is being used in the advertisement, but also make sense of the meaning behind the message. Semiotics is a helpful way to analyze the significance of what is trying to be communicated. Semiotics is used to understand the meaning of what is being looked at and analyzed, such as an advertisement or television show. Semiotics originally was developed by the grandfather of linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure. Saussure’s teachings of semiotics were “that a linguistic sign unites not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound image,” (Berger 4). The concept and sound image that Saussure describes represents the sign, which in turn represents the meaning
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2 behind the item that is being analyzed. The development of semiotics was also helped by a man named Charles Sanders Peirce, who had many similar ideas to Saussure. Peirce, on the other hand, named three different aspects of signs. The three different aspects he looked at were icon, symbol, and index of the signs. The icon of a sign can be described as a resemblance, while the symbol of a sign is some kind of connection between the sign and what is represents. The index of a sign is conventional, an image that everyone knows and must learn. Although both men had two different ideas on the nature of semiotics, both agree that the purpose of semiotics is to understand meaning. The crucial factor in understanding the meaning involved has to do with the structure of relationships between the different items, the sign, signifier, and signified. The sign represents the combination of the signifier, the wording or actions, and the signified, which is the concept. The relationship between the signifier and signified is arbitrary and is not as important as the sign as a whole. For example, the Milwaukee’s Best commercial we watched in class, shows three men digging a hole and one shoos a bee away and screams in a girly manner. A huge Milwaukee’s Best beer can comes out of the sky and falls on the man shooing the bee. The actions of this man and his voice are the signifiers in this commercial
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3 and the gender role he is constructing is that of a female and un-masculine, this is the signified. The sign of this commercial is to promote the fact that men should act like men and light beer should taste like beer, which the creators of the Milwaukee’s Best Light beer, attempt to convey in their advertisement. This type of relationship between the sign, signifier, and signified is what can be described as level one semiotics, which help to understand the meaning behind the commercial.
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