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The connection between signifier and signified is arbitrary; they are not a natural relationship where meaning is given

For example, yellow circle could mean a yellow light or smiley face Arbitrariness Arbitrary= based on random choice rather than any reason or system When we say the linguistic symbol tree, we see in our mind a pic of a tree however, that linguistic symbol could be anything o the meaning that is ascribed to it is what counts

The importance of Context: The Swastika, natzis versus the Buddhism Same source material, radically different use and meaning Both mean peace, unity De Saussure argues that signs only make sense as part of a formal, generalized and abstract system That is, signs only have meaning in realtions to other signs The meaning of a sign is dependant on its social, historical and cultural context The meaning of any individual sign is derived from the larger sign-system itself What we experienced tell us what we see, for example the mask, if we did not see it before we would have thought it was an ordinary mask, but now we know the meaning behind it

Implications (So what?) Implication #1: we can only think within the ters of the sign system. We cannot think outside it Languages are merely forms of the same content tree, arbol,arbre, baum a are various symbolic representations of the same content, diff signifiers of the same signified

Text/Image/sound = representation We create meaning about the world around us through representation this process of meaning-making through representation takes place via systems o for example, we must learn

Impliation #2 There is no Transcendental signifier o This means that it is a single, quintessential signifier that gives meaning to all related signs o We cannot single out

Meaning through Absense Within sign-sets (signifiers of related, but not identical, signified objects) we know somethins is a because it is not b A tree is a tree because it is not a shrub, a bush etc

Implication #3: All sign systems are imbued with ideologies and therefore carry issues of power and representation Eg: history as a system of signs as representations Every sign system contains ideological weight Euphemism= using a mild term or prase to represent something unpleaseant or offensive (ex. collateral damage)

A sign= a representation A representation= a sign signs convey authority signs encode naturalized norms that have a quality of taken for grantedness thats just the way things are, common sense ideology for ex. exit sign, we know that is where we exit the room in creating meaning through exclusion, signs often help represent binary organizations of people or ideas eg. If a person is not male, then she is female we consent to sign-systems and their meanins every day