Denotation & connotation.

After last weeks visitation to that of the signifier and signified equalling a sign, we learnt that there are in fact three individual signs: the symbol, icon and index. Today we took this a little further by adding onto this topic with the discussion of denotation and connotation. French philosopher Roland Barthes covers these ideologies in one of his essays where analyses the cover of Paris Match magazine. He says the surface information is what everyone initially sees on the cover ( in this case, a young negro boy in a French uniform, saluting). This is known as the denotation; the surface level of meaning and interpretation. Hence the connotation is the hidden message that lies beneath the surface. Not everyone will pick up on the more connotative meanings at first, or at least not consciously. The connotative has the power to push further ideologies into our minds, consciously and subconsciously ( France is a great empire with no discrimination; those were oppressed have now overcome this time and are happy to serve their nation etc).

Naw, back to the cutesy pictures from last week! Its time to perform the task of denotation and connotation!

  1. Denoted: Red dinosaur soft toy. Connoted: Childhood, sentiment, love, attachment.
  2. Denoted: Sail boat charm. Connoted: Adventure, outdoors, wayfaring, family, father, love, memory, significance.
  3. Denoted: Silver cross necklace. Connoted: Pure, faith, relationship, devotion, Christ, Jesus, love.
  4. Denoted: Row of glass quirky bottles. Connoted: Collector, interest in design, interest in art/painting, recycled, enjoys unique drinks, glass bottles only.
  5. Denoted: A sleeping cat. Connoted: A pet/ is tame, comfortable, enjoys sleep, is well looked after and loved.

On another note, after class I found myself looking around my environment and thinking about the denotation/connotation of things we often take for granted. The footpath that cuts through the grass for instance. On the surface, it is a path, but on a deeper level is visually screams “Here is where you can walk to get from A to B!” It is a man-made sign that cuts through nature so that we may know the way clearly.

I also found myself think INDEX!!!’ instead of ‘Oh I have a message…’ when I heard the sound of my Facebook Messenger app bleep at me…hmmm….



One thought on “Denotation & connotation.

  1. Scott Wilson says:

    I love this – great analysis and I really like the idea of you now thinking ‘Index’ when you get a text message. This is excellent stuff – thank you.


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