commutation test

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(semiotics) A structuralist analytical technique used in the paradigmatic analysis of a text to determine whether a change on the level of the signifier leads to a change on the level of the signified. To apply this test a particular signifier in a text is selected. Then meaningful alternatives taken from the same paradigm set are considered. For instance, one might consider changing a colour, a typeface or, in photography, a shot-size (such as a close-up instead of a mid-shot). The effects of each substitution are assessed in terms of how this might affect the sense made of the sign. See also absent signifier; markedness.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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