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A thesis presented to the English Department,

Faculty of Letters, Jember University as one of requirements
to obtain The Award of Sarjana Sastra Degree in English Study

Written by:
Ebhi Yunus Basri


Frontispiece ……………………………………………………………………….
Dedication Page …………………………………………………………………...
Page of Motto ……………………………………………………………………..
Declaration ………………………………………………………………………..
Approval Sheet ……………………………………………………………………
Acknowledgment …………………………………………………………………
Summary ………………………………………………………………………….
Table of Content ………………………………………………………………….

1.1 The Background of the Study………………………………………..
1.2 The Problem of the Study ………………………………………..…..
1.3 The Scope of the Study ……………………………………………….
1.4 The Goal of the Study ………………………………………………..
1.5 The Significance of the Study ……………………………………......


2.1 Previous Research ………………………………………………………
2.2 Theory Used in Analysis ……………………………………………….
2.2.1 Communication and Language, and Signs …………………..
2.2.2 The Theory of Semiotics ……………………………………….
2.2.3 Types of Signs …………………………………………………..
2.2.4 Levels of Meaning ………………………………………………
3.1 Type of Data ………………………………………………………..…
3.2 Method of Data Collection ……………………………………………
3.3 The Type of Analysis ……………………………………………….…
3.4 Method of Analysis ……………………………………………………

4.1 Media Used In Second World War Propaganda by America…….
4.2 The Reasoning of War …………………………………….
4.2.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative…………
4.3 The Recruiting of the Army ……………………………………
4.3.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative…………
4.4 The ……………………………………
4.4.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative…………
4.5 The ……………………………….…..
4.5.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative…………
4.6 The
4.6.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative
4.7 The
4.7.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative
4.8 The
4.8.1 The Levels of Meaning: denotative and connotative
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION …………………………………………………

When the European war broke out, the army, like other agencies, was ill
prepared to understand psychological warfare, much less plan for and conduct it
(Paddock, Jr. 1982:8). United States government officials initially worried about
generating a “total war” effort from the civilian population. This condition changed in
1941 as stated by Paddock, Jr:
With the outbreak of World War II, the United States had virtually no
organized capability to conduct psychological and unconventional warfare.
That situation changed on july 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt
established the office of Cordinator of Information (COI) and designated
Colonel William J. Donovan as the first director. Thus wa begun a bold idea:
through COI and its successor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the
United States began “its first organized venture into the fields of espionage,
propaganda, subversion and related activities under the aegis of a centralized
intelligence agency.” (Paddock, Jr. 1982:5)

Propaganda can come in many forms through different media: film, print,
radio and television broadcasts, and public rallies. Poster propaganda is an old
method of solidifying the hearts and minds of the public. In the 20th century with
advances in photography and color printing, it became an effective art form and
weapon in waging war. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the government
launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to run up public support. It recruited
some of the nation’s most talented artists and filmmakers to wage this portion of the
war effort.
Effective propaganda takes the complex and simplifies it down to a very basic
message, couched in terms of good and evil. The images and messages are
choreographed to hammer at human emotions. The newsreels and posters targeted
specific audiences for specific purposes. Warnings of what Americans would lose if
victory wasn’t achieved. Please for buying war bonds to fund funding the war effort.
Encouraging people to gladly accepting societal changes like racial integration and
women in the workforce. And always pushing and prodding for more effort, more
production, more sacrifice because home front sacrifices could never compare with
sacrifices on the battlefield. Most people understood the effort as oversimplification.
But as the reality of war stormed into American’s consciousness, on the battlefield
and at home, people began to understand the importance of the messages sent through
the newsreels and posters.
Driven by Barthes’ concept of Two Orders of Signification, this thesis focuses
on one specific and examines Propaganda Posters broadcasted during Second World
War. The Two Orders of Signification is semiotic theory that redefines from the
Saussurean Semiotics. Since the Saussurean Semiotics is interested primarily in the
linguistic system, secondarily in how that system related to reality to which it
referred, and hardly at all in how it related to the reader and his or her socio-cultural
position. Thus the notion of Saussurean Semiotics is synchronicity, which only
examines the complex ways in which a sentence can be constructed and the way its
form determines its meaning. Therefore the Saussurean Semiotics is less conscious in
the fact that the same sentence may convey different meanings to different people in
different situations
The Two Order of Signification itself is about levels of meaning. It sees
meaning as process of negotiation between writer, reader and text. In other words this
theory sees signs may convey different meanings for different people in different
situations. Thus the notion of this Barthesian Semiotics is diachronicity, in which
meaning is dynamic. Therefore words are active, dynamics social signs, capable of
taking on different meanings and connotations for different social classes in different
social and historical situations
Since language may not only be reduced in articulated forms such as letters,
numbers etc. but also in our objects of civilization, such as poster, clothing, hairstyle,
perfume, accent, photograph, movie etc. Thus Poster is applicable to be the material
source of this Semiotic Analysis.
1.1 The Background of the Study
People can build a social community by using language as a means of
communication. Language has a vital function in many different aspects such as
social, military, economic, and even political. Emery et al. conclude “Man has
another fundamental need beyond the physical requirements of food and shelter: the
need to communicate with his fellow human beings. This urge for communication is a
primal one and, in our contemporary civilization, a necessity for survival” (Emery et
al., 1971: 4).
This thesis will discuss one of the elements of social field as a subject matter
of the discussion, which is Poster, specifically propaganda poster during Second
World War issued by America. Poster is usually a printed paper announcement or
advertisement that is exhibited publicly. Whether it is promoting a product, event, or
sentiment (such as patriotism), a poster must immediately catch the attention of the
readers. Poster is a way of communication between the writers (advertisers) and the
readers (the consumers of the advertised product). Poster functions as a media
promotion in transferring the messages from the advertisers as the addressors to the
consumers as the target of advertisement. The messages are meant to persuade the
readers. In addition, an advertisement surrounds all aspects of life, for example in
newspaper, television, direct mail, radio, magazine, and internet and on the street
In making the poster, advertisers have to be creative in order to attract the
response of the consumers. The setting of advertisement should be impressive. The
message of the advertisement should be clear in order to avoid the possible
misunderstanding. It makes the readers hard to understand the messages, so they need
to interpret the advertisements. Goddard argues that “advertisement is not just about
the commercial promotion of branded products, but it can also encompass the idea of
texts whose intention is to enhance the image of an individual, group, or
organization” (1998:10).
The message of advertisement is conveyed by an element namely copy.
According to Dirksen et al, “copy is defined here as the word message of the
advertisements” (1977:213). Jefkin defines copy as “a coherence advertising-script or
the substance that printed namely sentences with illustration”. Dunn cited in Zacher
states that “the basic job of copy is to pick up the thread of thought established by the
headline and weave it into a story which motivates the readers” (1961:160). In other
words copy must represent the purposes of advertisement as the main purpose beside
to attract the reader’s attention and to create the public’s desire to use the products. It
means that copy is a means of verbal communication for the advertisers in conveying
the messages to the public. There are seven elements of copy; such as headline, sub
headline, body text, price, company’s name and address, coupon (if it is available)
and slogan (Jefkin, 1996:233).
This thesis investigates how the language in Posters is analyzed by semiotic
theory. It relates to the use of signs in conveying the messages in the posters, so the
readers need to interpret the meaning of those signs and it is hoped that the readers
understand the introductory message even though they just read the headline. In the
semiotic theory, we will find the description of levels of meaning as a process of
negotiation between the writer/reader and the text. In other words, semiotic theory
sees the possibility of signs in conveying different meaning to the different people in
the different situation.

1.2 The Problems of the Study

Meaning cannot be separated from the ideological struggles since it is context-
dependent or historical. Schirato and Yell (2000: 24) clarified that the production of
meaning is always open, always a struggle. To understand and to interpret the
message and meaning of signs on the advertisement, the semiotic analysis is used.
This study focuses on the interpretations of Propaganda Posters Issued by America
during the Second World War. There are two problems formulated as:
1. How can the indirect messages on the Propaganda Poster be analyzed and
described by using semiotic study?
2. How do the Two Orders of Signification, the Theory of Semiotics, give
contribution to the reader in making interpretation toward the propaganda
This thesis deals with semiotic analysis on posters issued by United States during
Second World War. The semiotic theory provides a very useful theoretical analytical
framework for explaining and exploring how the text means without ignoring the
regulation. Thus, it will reduce the misinterpretation for different people in different
meaning and different situation.

1.3 The Goals of the Study

The thesis concerns on the analysis of Propaganda posters issued by America
during Second World War from semiotic point of view. In particular, the analysis
aims to:
1. Describe the message on the poster of Second World War issued by America
using semiotic theory.
2. Interpret the poster by using semiotic theory.
3. Discuss the representation of advertisement toward the product within the
semiotic theory.

1.4 The Significance of the Study

As a study of language, semiotic analysis helps us to interpret what a headline of
advertisement means. In other words, this study contributes significantly to:
1. Giving a contribution towards the development of semiotics and
communication field, particularly in understanding the ideas that shape poster
as a form of discourse.
2. Expecting readers to have a description on how to understand a discourse
easier through the application of Two Orders of Signification and
3. Introducing the readers about the function of the Theory of Semiotics in
gaining the message fully

1.5 The Organization of the Thesis

This thesis comprises five chapters. Chapter one is introduction. It consists of the
background of the study, the problems of the study, the scope of the study, the goal of
the study, the significance of the study and the organization of the thesis. The second
chapter deals with the description of supporting theories of the study. The third
chapter is research methodology. It concerns with the type of data, method of data
collection, the type of analysis, method of analysis and hypotheses. Chapter four as
the main discussion discuss the analysis of a data based on semiotic theory. The last
chapter is conclusion. It draws a conclusion of the analysis in the study.

2.1 Previous Research

This thesis is a development based on previous research. An analysis on
visual communication, which is in frame of semiotic analysis. Some of previous
research in the same framework will be briefly explained.

Sigit Budhi Setiawan in “The Semiotic Analysis of Several News

Photographs in the Time Magazine” (thesis, 2005) analyzes news photograph
broadcasted in Time Magazines. He resulted that the analysis is based on the frame of
discourse analysis, which includes the theory of communication and the concept of
ideology in language toward the presented text. Barthes’ Two Orders of Signification
is uses to analyze the way in which signs and conventions in the text interact with the
conventions experienced and expected by the user / reader. It sees meaning as process
of negotiation between writer / reader and text. Thus the notion of this Barthesian
Semiotics is diachronicity, meaning is dynamic. In which words are active, dynamics
social signs, capable of taking on different meanings and connotations for different
social classes in different social and historical situations.

Another thesis which using semoitics in its analysis is “A Semiotic Analysis

On The Headlines Of Djarum La Lights Advertisements” written by Hartini (2005).
She focuses on the Advertisements issued by P.T. Djarum, especially on La Lights
Advertisements. She has attempted to give a semiotic analysis of cigarette
advertisements whose signifiers are not only designed to give a favorable and
appropriate headline, but also these signifiers are also shown to have a relationship
with the product offered. It proved that the semiotic theory and approach to the levels
of meaning have helped to analyze the advertisements in detail. Advertisements are
made for audience. Therefore, it is an important analysis to consider the audience’s
reaction in the interpretation of cigarette advertisement
2.2 Theoretical Review
2.2.1 Communication and Language, and Sign
Communication refers to the process of human beings responding to the symbolic
behavior of other persons. Human is a social being that have fundamental need to
communicate with another as a necessity for survival. Adler & Rodman stated that
communication provides a vital link with others. “Researchers and theorists have
identified a range of social needs we satisfy by communicating: pleasure; affection;
inclusion; escape; relaxation; and control” (Adler & Rodman, 2006).
Based on Concise Oxford English Dictionary (eleventh edition);
“Communication is; the action of communicating. A letter or message containing
information; (communications) the means of sending or receiving information,
such as telephone lines or computers; (communications) the means of travelling
or of transporting goods, such as roads or railways.”

Communicate is interaction between humans, whether it is mediated or not, direct

or indirect. There are several types of communication stated by Adler & Rodman;
Intrapersonal communication; dyadic/interpersonal communication; small group
communication; public communication; and mass communication (Adler & Rodman,
Communicate means sending and receiving message to others in a complex
environment. There are two model of communication Linear and transactional
models. Adler & Rodman draws a linear model as in figure:
nois nois nois
e e e

encod messa Environmentdecod
send es ge es
er er
channel channel
(Adler & Rodman, 2006)
A linear model shows that communicators often occupy different environments-fields
of experience that help them understand others’ behavior. In communication
terminology, environment refers not only to a physical location but also to the
personal experiences and cultural backgrounds that participants bring to a
conversation (Adler & Rodman, 2006).

Although some types of mass communication do flow in a one-way, linear

manner, most types of personal communication are two-way exchanges. The
transactional model reflects the fact that we usually send and receive messages
simultaneously. The roles of sender and receiver that seemed separate in the linear
model are now superimposed and redefined as those of “communicators.” This new
term reflects the fact that at a given moment we are capable of receiving, decoding,
and responding to another person’s behavior, while at the same time that other person
is receiving and responding to ours.
nois nois nois
e e e
A’s B’s Environment
Environment feedba
Communica Respo ck Communica
ck Decod tor
tor nd messa
(Sends and decod es (Sends and
ge Respo receive)
channe channe
ls ls

(Adler & Rodman, 2006)

The discernible response of a receiver to a sender’s message is called feedback.
Not all feedback is nonverbal, of course. Sometimes it is oral, as when we ask an
instructor questions about an upcoming test or volunteer our opinion of a friend’s
new haircut. In other cases it is written, as when we answer the questions on a
midterm exam or respond to a letter from a friend. Figure above makes the
importance of feedback clear. It shows that most communication is, indeed, a two-
way affair.

Language is the medium of communication. Communication need language and

vice versa. Therefore, when we discussing communication we will also discussing
language, and it can not be separated.
Lyons stated,

“To say that language serves as an instrument of communication is to utter a

truism. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any satisfactory definition of the term
‘language’ that did not incorporate some reference to the notion of
communication. …there is an intrinsic connection between meaning and
communication, such that it is impossible to account for the former except in
terms of the latter” (Lyons, 1977:32).

According to Eco (cited in Noth, 1990:172) “any flow of information from a

source to a destination is a process of communication, even the passage of a signal
from machine to machine” (cited in Noth, 1990: 172). And language is act of
communication to or between human beings (Eco, 1976: 9).

Wardhough ideas about communication and language were language is a code,

and a code is the system of communication which two or more people communicate
each other. While Saussure sees language as “a systems of signs that express ideas”
(cited in Noth, 1990: 57), and is therefore comparable to a system of writing, the
alphabet of deaf-mutes, symbolic rites, polite formulas, military signals, etc. Then
Saussure proposed Semiotics, a study “that would take any systems of signs,
whatever their substance and limits; images, gestures, musical sounds, objects and
complex associations of all these, which form the content of the ritual, convention or
public entertainment: these constitute, if not language, at least systems of
signification” (Barthes, 1983: 9).
In other hand, Hawkes cited Sapir’s ideas that every speech-act includes the
transmission of the messages through the ‘languages’ of gesture, posture, clothing,
hair-style, perfume, accent, social context, etc. over and above, under and beneath,
even at cross-purpose with what words actually say. Every cultural pattern and every
single act of social behavior involves communication in either an explicit or implicit
sense (1977:125).

Communication is the process of sending and receiving sign system, between the
speaker and the hearer, writer and the reader, the performers and the spectators. The
sign system could not be limited to the verbal and written language only; it includes
the gestures, posture, image, etc. Umberto Eco, declares that, "general semiotics
studies the whole of the human signifying activity--languages--and languages are
what constitutes human beings as such, that is, as semiotic animals." (1986: 12).
Thus a study of language and communication is also a study of Semiotics.
Barthes implicitly describes that the stretching of the concept of language is
inherently the feature of modern world (Barthes, 1983: 9-10). In fact that the
development of mass communications bear the vast field of signifying media and
human beings also communicate by non-linguistics. Hawkes (1977: 125) elucidated,
“Every speech-act includes the transmission of messages through the ‘languages’ of
gesture, posture, clothing, hairstyle, perfume, accent, social context etc. over and
above, under and beneath, even at cross-purposes with what words actually say.”
Thus in an implicit and explicit sense, communication is involved in our cultural
pattern and act of social behavior (Sapir, quoted in Hawkes, 1977: 125).
Advertising is a powerful medium in mass communication. It is useful for
communicating advertising message in an agreeable manner. In the communication
process the message moves from the sender to the receiver. As a final result of
advertising as a communication process is the understanding message by the
Poster is one of outdoor advertising media. It is a combination of headline,
slogan, layout, illustration and art work. Poster is an advertisement that can be seen,
can be read, but cannot be heard. Thus, the senders have to fit the poster to serve
overall purpose.

2.2.2 Semiotics
Language as a sign system is used to convey a message. In this case, sign system
is studied in the semiotic theory. The explanation of semiotic theory is stated by
Winner (cited in bezuidenhout: www) “Semiotics is a systematic study of signs, sign
systems or structures, sign processes and sign functions. A sign is anything that can
be interpreted and must be physically and mentally perceptible”. In advertisement, the
advertiser uses signs to convey their purposes. As a result, the researcher uses
semiotic theory to interpret the advertisement.
De Saussure and Peirce are the two most prominent leaders in the field of
semiotics. While De Saussure was language oriented, by giving the highest priority to
the verbal than the non-verbal, Peirce gave equal status to verbal and non-verbal
signs. The difference of these theories is caused by De Saussure’s background as a
linguist, while Peirce’s background is a philosopher and logical expert. In order to
apply the semiotic theory appropriately to this thesis, the differences and similarities
between the two theories by De Saussure and Peirce will be compared as follows.
In connection with the technical term of semiotics, Ferdinand de Saussure (cited
in Hawkes 1977:123), a father of the study of semiotics says:
“A science that studies the life of signs within society is conceivable; it
would be a part of social psychology and consequently of general psychology:
I shall call it semiology (from a Greek semeion ‘sign’). Semiology would
show what constitutes signs, what laws govern them. Since the science does
not yet exist, no one can say what it would be; but it has a right to existence, a
place staked out in advance.”

De Saussure develops linguistic theory into a sign theory. He claimed that any
language is a system, a coherent semiotic structure. He proposed the term semiology
in order to give the general scope of system of sign that has not yet existed before.
This system of signs has meaning based on the signs’ relationship to one another.
Every sign has a meaning based on its place in the system. A sentence as a sign,
which is a combination of words as a signifier makes a certain meaning as a signified.
In the other perspective, Peirce proposed the system of sign as semiotics. He
stated that,
“I hope to have shown that logic in its general acceptation is merely
another word for semiotics, a quasi-necessary or formal doctrine of signs. In
describing the doctrine as ‘quasi-necessary’, or formal, I have in mind the fact
that we observe the nature of such signs as best we can, and, on the basis of
fine observations, by a process which I do not hesitate to call Abstraction, we
are led to eminently necessary judgments concerning what must be the nature
of the signs used by the scientific intellect” (Peirce in Guiraud, 1978:2)

He argued that semiotics is similar to the term logic. Logic studies the way people
think logically and reasonably. This intellectual activity is done through the
appearance of signs. Signs enable us to interpret, to connect with the other signs and
to give the meaning of the signs. Peirce is concerned with the function of signs. His
approach is more general and can be used to interpret the advertisement which
contains not only the language but also the picture, color system, layout, etc.
Semiotics offers the translators of advertisement with a means to manipulate
and manage the language (verbal system) and non-verbal system. Thus sign can be
used to convey the messages of the cigarette advertisement. The semiotic framework
stated by Fiske can be summarized into the following three fields of study:
1. The sign. This entails the study of the various types of signs, and the
different ways they have of conveying the meaning, and the way they relate to
the people who use them
2. That to which the sign refers. In other words, the codes or systems into
which signs are organized. This includes the ways that various codes have
developed to meet the needs of a society or culture, or to exploit the channels
of communication available for their transmission
3. The user of sign. In other words, the culture within which these codes
and signs operate.
(Fiske in bezuidenhout: www, 1982:43)

Ferdinand de Saussure uses the term semiology, whereas Peirce uses the term
semiotics. Confusion can occur between these two concepts. In this thesis, the term
semiotics will be used, and the process of semiotics or sign-processing will be called
as semiosis.
De Saussure describes a language as a system of signs which have meaning by
virtue of their relationship to each other (Cook, 1992:61). According to him, every
sign consists of (1) signifier (the form which the sign takes) and (2) signified (the
concept it represents). The relationship between the signifier and the signified is
called “signification”.
De Saussure concerned his theory that the signified and signifier couldn’t be
separated, and refer to the signifier in term of sound image and to the signified as a
mental image. Each sign has meaning based on its place in the system. De Saussure is
more interested in language and the way of signs (words) rather than in object. When
the semiotic theory is applied to advertisement, the signifier and signified must be
connected in some way for the readers to interpret the meaning of sign.
According to Peirce (1931-1935:228) “A sign is anything which determines
something else (its interpretant) to refer to an object to which itself refers (its object)
in the same way, the interpretant becoming in turn a sign”. In contrast, de Saussure
focuses a language in the term of signs; every picture, diagram, natural cry, pointing
finger, wink knot in one’s handkerchief, memory, dream, fancy concept, indication,
token, symptom, letter, numeral, word, sentence, chapter, book, library are included
by signs. He assumes that everything can be a sign as long as it can be accepted,
known and imagined. It can be concluded that Peirce intends the scope of semiotics to
extend beyond the linguistic sign used in human communication. For him semiotics
involves the systematic study of sign systems or structures, how signs perform or
convey meanings in context and the function of signs. From Peirce’s point of view,
sign includes verbal and non-verbal language. Peirce argued that sign involves three
elements: Sign / representament (the form which the sign takes, interpretant (sense
made by sign), object (to which the sign refers)
Peirce sees the sign, interpretant and object in terms of a triangle. Each element
supports each other. It can only have a meaning and can be understood in relationship
to the others. The sign refers to something other than itself - the object, and is
understood by somebody: in other words it has the effect in the mind of the user - the
interpretant. The similarities of two theories are Peirce’s sign and De Saussure’s
signifier, and Peirce’s interpretant with De Saussure’s signified. However, De
Saussure’s theory is not concerned with the relationship of Peirce’ object or external

2.2.3 Types of Sign

The primary function of signs is to create or generate meanings. The advertising
uses signs to transfer their messages because of the consideration to the regulation of
advertisement. A sign can create multiple meanings or a single one; in other words
the relationship between sign can generate a different set of meanings because a sign
is active and always generates some meanings. In advertising the receivers have to
generate the meaning from the sign (whatever verbal and non-verbal), and its
relationship with the object and interpretant so the receivers catch the purpose of the
Peirce and De Saussure produced three types of sign, each of which conveys
meaning, and has a different relationship between signs, its object of that to which it
refers. There are three types with some brief explanations and some illustrative
1. Symbol: a type in which the signifier does not resemble the signified
but its object is a convention, rule or agreement between the users, so the
relationship must be learned; e.g. language in general (plus specific languages,
alphabetic letters, punctuation marks, words, phrases and sentences), numbers,
Morse codes, traffic lights, national flags, etc.
2. Icon: a type in which the signifier is perceived as resembling and or
imitating the signified (looks, sounds, feels, tastes, or smells) being resembled
of its qualities; e.g. a portrait, a cartoon, a scale-model, onomatopoeia,
metaphors, sound effects in radio drama, a dubbed film soundtrack, imitative
gestures, etc.
3. Index: a type in which the signifier is directly connected in some way
(physically and causally) to the signified e.g. ‘natural signs’ (smoke is an index of
fire, thunder signifies a rain), medical symptom (sneeze signifies a cold), measuring
instruments (thermometer, clock), ‘signal’ (a knock on a door as an index of someone
coming to your house), pointers (a pointing ‘index’ finger, a directional sign spot),
recordings ( a photograph, a film, a video or television shot, an audio recorded voice),
personal ‘trademark’ (handwriting, catchphrase) and indexical words (that, this, here,
The signs are not restricted in one type of those signs; something can be an icon
and a symbol or any combination, e.g. film and television are thus advertisements that
use the media, use all these types of signs: icon (sound and image), symbol (speech
and writing) and index (the effect of what is filmed).

2.2.4 Levels of Meaning

The primary function of signs is to generate meanings, as it has been discussed in
the previous part (see 2.3). Now the levels of meaning will be investigated in order to
distinguish denotation (literal meaning) and connotations (associative meaning). In
semiotics, denotation and connotation are terms that describe the relationship between
signifier and signified in representing the meaning
‘Denotation’ tends to be described as the definitional, ‘literal’, ‘obvious’ or
‘commonsense’ meaning of a sign. Commonly, the denotative meaning is the
meaning written in the dictionary. It can also be said as “first order” signification that
is generated by the relationship between the signifier and signified within the sign,
common sense, literal meaning and obvious meaning of the sign.
The term ‘connotation’ is used to refer to the social-cultural and ‘personal’
associations (ideological, emotional, etc) of the sign (Chandler: www). The
interpretation depends on interpreters’ background of knowledge, culture, gender,
social class, etc. In the case of linguistics, connotation creates the meaning when the
signs connect with the user’s background of knowledge and the values of his culture.
It has the subjective interpretation to different people in different situation. A
connotation is also called “second order” signification which involves emotional,
subjective interpretation, socio cultural values and individual assumptions.
Barthes elucidated that “any system of significations comprises a plane of
expression (E) and a plane of content (C) and that signification coincides with
relation (R) of the two planes: ERC” (Barthes, 1983: 89). The primary sign is one of
denotative while the secondary sign is one of connotative semiotics. The denotative is
often called the first order of signification while the connotative as the second order
of signification. We may (primarily based on Sunardi 2002: 122; see also Barthes,
1983: 115, 1980: 89-93; Noth, 1990: 310-313; Eco, 1976: 48-54) figured Barthes’
abstraction as:

The first order of signification is based on the Saussurean sign that consist
of Signifier, Signified that build a sign (meaning). This relation may be expressed in
Hjemslevian term, Expression (E1), Content (C1) that coincides with relation (R1).
Thus these terms are used to ease the difficulty of our semiotic analysis. Finally this
order is called Denotation.

The second order of signification is the second semiotic system that used
the Saussurean sign as a base. Thus the sign of the first order become the signifier of
the second order. This order consists of SIGNIFICATION, FORM and CONCEPT.
In the first order we may called the SIGNIFICATION as Sign, FORM as Signifier,
and CONCEPT as Signified. Therefore the second order works as the first order and
the second order also use the first order’s Sign as its FORM or Signifier.

Furthermore, the FORM and CONCEPT of the second order of signification

in themselves also posses its own semiotic system: Expression, Form and Substance.
To simplify our analysis we may called the semiotic system of the FORM in term of
E2R2C2 and CONCEPT as E3R3C3. Therefore the Second Order of Signification
posses two ways (we use in our analysis) how signs work (called as Connotation and
Myth). Barthes elucidated that “ideology is the form of the signifieds of connotation,
while rhetoric is the form of connotators” (Barthes, 1980: 92).

Considering that there is no meaning outside ideology, thus denotation is

another result of a discursive practice (Hall et al., 1980: 132; Collins et al., 1986: 58).
Therefore ideological meaning also presents in denotation. But confusion may not
arise here. Hall argues the distinction of denotation and connotation is an analytical
only (Hall et al., 1980: 132). Barthes clarified:

“Denotation is not the first sense, but it pretends to be. Under this illusion,
in the end, it is nothing but the last connotation(where the reading is at the
same time grounded and enclosed), the superior myth, thanks to which the
texts pretends to return to the nature of language….We must keep
denotation, old vigilant deity, crafty, theatrical, appointed to represent the
collective innocence of language” (Barthes,1974: 9).

In other hand Baudrillard argues:

“Denotation is totally supported by myth of ‘objectivity’ (whether

concerning the linguistic sign, the analogous photographic or iconic sign,
etc.), the direct adequacy of a signifier and a precise reality” (quoted in
Hall et al., 1980: 133)
Furthermore Barthes elucidates:

“–at least at the level of the literal message – the relationship of the
signifieds to signifiers is not one of ‘transformation’ but recording, and
the absence of a code clearly reinforces the myth of photographic
‘naturalness’: the scene is there, captured mechanically, not humanly (the
mechanical is here guarantee of objectivity). Man’s interventions in
photograph (framing, distance, lighting, focus, speed) all effectively
belong to the plane of connotation; it is as though in the beginning there
were a brute photograph on which man would then lay out, with aid of
various techniques, the signs drawn from a cultural code” (Barthes, 1977:

Thus in poster, the denoted meaning is conveyed solely through the

mechanical action of image reproduction: a dog is a dog. Therefore denotation, the
first order of signification is the one on which Saussure worked. It describes “the
relationship between the signifier and signified within the sign, and of the sign with
its referent in external reality” (Fiske, 1990: 85). It means that denotation is ‘literal,
obvious or common sense’ meaning of a sign. But it does not means denotation is
outside ideology. Hall et al clarify that “Indeed we could say that its ideological is
strongly fixed-because it has become so fully universal and ‘natural’” (Hall et al.,
1980: 133).

According to Barthes myth and connotation is generated in the same way in

the second order of signification. Connotation is the second-order meaning of the
signifier (FORM=E2 R2 C2). Connotation “describes the interaction that occurs
when the sign meets the feelings or emotions of the users and the value of their
culture” (Fiske, 1990: 85). Barthes argues that the connotation develops on the basis
of denotation whose signifier is a certain treatment of the image and whose signified
whether aesthetic or ideological , refers to certain ‘culture’ of the society receiving
the message (Barthes, 1977: 17-19).
Furthermore the choice of word is also a choice of connotation. Consider the
use of 'FAM Freedom fighters, FAM Guerrillas, FAM Active units, FAM
Paramilitaries’ denote the same people, but they connote something quite different. In
other case, a uniform may denotes rank and function; it is also connotes the prestige
and authority attached to rank and function (Guiraud, 1975: 28). Thus in connotation
the ideological practices about hierarchy and power relation are noticeable. Therefore
the commutation is beneficial to be used in connotation level to test the stability of
the meaning, whether a change in plane of signifier has an effect in the plane of

Hall et al. describe that myth differs from connotation at the moment at
which it attempts to universalize. Myth is connotation which has become dominant-
hegemonic (Hall et al., 1980: 125). For Fiske myth is the second-order meaning of
the signified. Thus it is the semiotic system of the CONCEPT (E3R3C3).

Barthes argues that myth is dominant ideology of our time. He insists that
myth serve the ideological function of naturalization (Barthes, 1980: 130-). It means
that myth is not natural, neutral or even necessary. Myth is taken for granted by those
located within the dominant ideology, and legitimised as natural occurrences or
‘timeless truths’- the God’ eye view. It is presented as ‘common sense’, the
unquestioned way of interpreting ‘reality’ or doing things (Tomaselli, No Year: 44).
Barthes declares:

“Myths are nothing but this ceaseless, untiring solicitation, this insidious
and inflexible demand that all men recognize themselves in this image,
eternal yet bearing a date, which was built of them one day as if for all the
time” (Barthes, 1980: 155).

Therefore “the naturalization of history by myths, point up the fact that myths
are actually the product of a social class that has achieved dominance by a particular
history: the meanings that its myths circulate must carry this history with them, but
their operation as myths make them try to deny it and present their meanings as
natural, not historical or social. Myths mystify or obscure their origins and thus their
political or social dimension” (Fiske, 1990: 89). Thus myth is hidden ideological,
hegemonic function of signs which seem natural not historical that brings natural
world view as something given, taken for granted or goes without saying. This
natural world view may masculinity, femininity, freedom, individualism, objectivism,
rationalism, inequality of human races, the civilized Western, the Exotic Orient,
Englishness, The US is the world’s peace-keeper and so on.
Jack Solomon in his book Signs of Our Time (1987) gave a clear example how
myth works as follow. Women with a high-heeled shoe (and mini skirt etc.) may
denote it just merely fashionable articles of dress. In another side (it connotes) she
were trying to attract sexual attention. This fact points to a common gender,
patriarchal myth that defines women as sexual objects and requires them to appear
sexually attractive. Men see and desire, while women are seen and desired without
desiring for themselves (Solomon, 1987: 17-18; 198).

3.1. Type of Data

Since the writer use Poster (document) as the analyzed data, then the type of data
is a qualitative data. Qualitative data sources include observation and participant
observation (fieldwork), interviews and questionnaires, documents and texts, and the
researcher's impressions and reactions (Myers 2009). Qualitative research methods
are valuable in providing rich descriptions of complex phenomena; tracking unique or
unexpected events, illuminating the experience and interpretation of events by actors
with widely differing stakes and roles; giving voice to those whose views are rarely
heard; conducting initial explorations to develop theories; and to generate and test
hypotheses; and moving toward explanations.
Qualitative research is characterized by an emphasis on describing,
understanding, and explaining complex phenomena for example, the relationships,
patterns and configurations among factors; or the context in which activities occur.
The focus is on understanding the full multi-dimensional, dynamic picture of the
subject of study. The data are the Posters of Second World War issued by America.
3.2 Method of Data Collection
The method of data collection used in this study is library method. According to
Indriati (2001:2), library method is done by the investigation of referential resources
that deals with the title.
3.3 Type of Analysis
The type of research in this study is descriptive analysis. Djajasudarma (1993: 8)
states that descriptive is proposed to arrange a description in which it represents the
systematic data and special relationship of phenomena. Best (1981:119) elucidates
that descriptive method is proposed to arrange a description and interpretation. It
means that the relationships of the phenomena are being analyzed.
There will be data analysis which is done by identifying and interpreting the
phenomenon of Two Order of Signification of several posters after they are collected.
Next, there will be the analysis of the intended messages.
3.4 Method of Analysis
After collecting the data, the writer will analyze the data through several steps by
applying the theories stated in chapter II. First, the data will be observed carefully by
considering its existence. Second, the existence will be associated to the denotation,
connotation and myth under the Two Order of Signification. Finally, interpretation of
the data will close the discussion.
Graphic of the method of analysis:


Structure of
Verbal Non-Verbal
Language Language

First Level of


Second Level of

Ideology Connotation


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