Semiology – the study of existing, conventional, communicative systems. Semiotics is, in short, the study of signs.
Sign – in the humanities, we use it to talk about something which stands for something else.
In this model, the sign consists of two inseparable elements:
Denotation – a relationship between the signifier and its signified.
It is usually treated as the ‘literal’, ‘obvious’, or ‘commonsense’ meaning of a sign, but semioticians tend to treat it as a signified about which there is a relatively broad consensus.
Connotation – a relationship between the signifier and its signified using a sign’s secondary meaning.
It is those socio-cultural and personal associations one has when decoding a text.
Charles Sanders Peirce claimed that there are three main modes of how the signifier is linked to the signified. A sign can be a combination of different modes.
A paradigm – a set of associated signifiers which are all members of some
defining category, but in which each signifier is different.
For instance, in languages, there are grammatical paradigms such as verbs or nouns.
Another example: think about the alphabet and the formation of a word. For instance, it is written D * G.
The middle * between the D and the G can be filled with several choices. We can chose different letters to place in the slot and get different words. Each of those slots make up a mutually exclusive choice.
In a given context, one member of the paradigm set is structurally
replaceable with another. The use of one signifier (e.g. a particular word or a garment) rather than another from the same paradigm set (e.g. adjectives or hats) shapes the preferred meaning of a text.
A syntagm – a combination in a certain order of interacting signifiers which forms a meaningful whole (sometimes called a ‘chain’).
For example, in languages, a sentence is a combination of words in a specific order.
Syntagmatic relationships exist both between signifiers and