Week 10 – Semiotics and Meanings


The following article by Schirato and Yell offers a clear definition between the complex relationship of signs and meanings.  They argue the main points that divulge this explanation including ideological processes, as a means reading into the ‘signs’ and ‘meanings’.  In regards to this, communication was also revealed to be controlled in a lesser extent of a sender’s intentions, due to the different degrees in which people read signs.    

 To support their argument, Schirato and Yell explore the ideas of Saussaure and Volosinov in explaining the concept of the relationship between signs and meaning.  Sassaure’s concept divulges the core significance of meaning as more rational than substantive, arguing that ‘all meaning is produced through language systems based on a notion of difference, rather than identity’.  Furthermore, Saussure introduces three main divisions of linguistic sign: the signifier, the signified and the sign. 

Schirato and Yell, hence analyses Volosinov’s argument against Sassaure’s concept in order to delve into the faults of these concepts.  Volosinov argues that while meanings are the result of ideological struggles, they are adaptable in different contexts and hence should not be linked to a natural and neutral process.

 Schirato and Yells, too offers primary instances to demonstrate these faults using categories of gender to show its simple meaning.  They attempt to use ‘man’ and woman’ to demonstrate this claiming that man has two definitions, it is neither a woman, nor a boy.  However when symbols, particularly two pictures of two different men, different meanings emerge due to the differing connotations aligned with these pictures.  From this understanding, various conclusions can also be made in accordance with this concept.  Meanings and signs hold significant purposes in the world of media, particularly those working in the field.  Meanings and signs have the ability to control how one can describe or actions, beliefs and in turn, manipulating the meaning and creating a whole new definition.

 After reading this article, I believe that meanings and signs are inherent in our life, particularly in the way in which we believe things.  In this extent, manipulation of these meanings and signs is both generally powerful and detrimental; hence one must always be cautious in choosing words to convey their intentions.   Similarly different countries will identify with different meanings to explain a particular object. For instance in Australia, the word ‘mobile’ can refer to many things, but most commonly for the mobile phone device, whereas in countries like the US, ‘mobile’ is a foreign term because what Australians call mobile, they refer to as ‘cell phone’ or ‘cell’, thus creating confusion.  I found this article very interesting, as it could relate to our daily life’s usage of meanings and signs.


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