The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

Photo from Flickr. User QuickSound

Apple this, apple that. When it comes to the word, apple, what comes to mind? Is it the delicious fruit? Is it the logo for the popular corporation? I can promise you that not one person in this world will have just one answer. That is the beauty of Semiotics, done by Roland Barthes, which is the study of signs- something that conveys meaning. You can look at something thinking something while someone who is also looking at it, think something totally different than you.

Photo from Flickr. User- Group Pool

So what’s with the apple? I have been wanting an iPhone for a really long time now and almost everyone I know has one. You may even have one and love having it (jealous!). Also, what got my attention was the fact that when I told a friend of mine that I wanted an apple, they automatically assumed the phone (although that too!). By that interaction, I can see how semiotics truly does affect anyone at anytime. In a paper written by Diana Sari and Yunisrina Yusuf, they say that language is a system of signs that convey ideas and the media uses this power in influencing the general public. The media is to blame for my interaction on the confusion of the fruit and the phone, so to speak. In the study and survey done by Cherie Gessesse and Lemma Sileshi, they found that people who saw the 20 different billboards concerning HIV/AIDS, they each thought of something different regarding the billboards.

If we want to go deeper in semiotics, we learn about the Sign, Signifier, and Signified. In short, a sign is the combination of both the signifier and the signified. In a paper done by Lena Fujii, Lena uses an example of a sign as Mikey Mouse. The signifier, which is the physical form of an image, is that Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character while the meaning, or signified could imply Disney Land, the theme park that is associated with Mickey Mouse.

Photo on Flickr. User- World Bank Photo Collection

How would you feel if I told you that one of the most popular signs you can think of such as Apple or even the Rotuna for Longwood University isn’t what you thought it meant? In my experience in this matter, I always thought the red ribbon was the awareness for HIV/AIDS. However, if you look back in history, that same red ribbon had different meanings. This is where Denotative and Connotative Sign Systems come in. A denotative sign is a sign that basically has an obvious meaning and in this case, I automatically assumed that the red ribbon was strictly the HIV/AIDS awareness ribbon. But if we look at the connotative side, which is a sign that has lost its historical meaning, the red ribbon also was a ribbon for drug prevention awareness in 1988 and in 1986, it was known for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

When it comes to communication, interpretation is important. It is important to know about Semiotics because you basically want to know what people are talking about such as in my case between the fruit and phone. Hopefully, you will have learned something as I have. I will definitely remember and use the applications that I’ve learned from Semiotics. Hopefully, when someone tells you that they want an apple, hopefully, you’ll know the difference.