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Semiotics Terminology

Rob Miller | Tuesday September 27, 2011

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Key Concepts, Media Language, Theory, Semiotic Theory

Associated Resources

  • Semiotics Glossary.doc


The fixing of a set of meanings, often found in a photograph or advert, usually through captions or other written text

Arbitrary Sign

Where the signifier has no connection to the signified e.g. Snow and Christmas


A system of signs, languages or symbols that allow audiences to decode meaning e.g. Technical and Symbolic codes or Narrative codes

Content Analysis

A way of decoding meaning by breaking down and studying the different elements of media texts


The expected format of a media text e.g. A Tabloid or a Broadsheet newspaper or Genre conventions in Film or TV


Often understood through the different system of communications produced by language/media and the arts from different countries


The different meanings produced by the sign i.e. what is signified. Remember connotation is open to interpretation


The process where meaning is deconstructed or ‘read’ by audiences


The physical form of the sign, the signifier

Dominant Preferred Meaning

The meaning that has been encoded into media texts and constructed by producers in the hope that this meaning only will be understood


The meaning that has been ‘put in’ to a media text

Iconic Sign

Where the signifier has a resemblance to the signified e.g. a road sign with a picture of old people on

Indexical Sign

Where the signifier is direct evidence of the signified e.g. Smoke and Fire


Where media texts make reference to other media texts that it is hoped audiences will recognise


Images or objects are placed next to each other to create a third or different meaning

Mode of Address

The way a media text speaks to its audience e.g. Capital Radio has an upbeat mode of address through its rhetoric of presentation and sound levels

Negotiated Reading

Meanings of a sign which are not always agreed upon

Oppositional Reading

The meaning...

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