orders of signification

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(semiotics) Barthes' term for structural levels of signification, meaning, or representation in semiotic systems. He adopted the notion from Hjelmslev. The first order of signification is that of denotation: at this level there is a sign consisting of a signifier and a signified. At this denotative level, a picture of a rose signifies the flower. Connotation is a second order of signification (though not secondary in significance) which uses the denotative sign (signifier and signified) as its signifier and attaches to it an additional signified. At this connotative level, the same picture connotes love. Barthes argues that the orders of signification called denotation and connotation combine to produce ideology in the form of myth—which has sometimes been described as a third order of signification. Other than for analytical purposes, it is difficult to sustain any clear distinction between these levels.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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