What is the Signified?

What is the Signified?
It is also known as acoustic image if we resort to the terms used by semiology. It is the abstraction of reality or the idea that will be linked to a sign in any type of communication. In the words of Saussure, the meaning is the acoustic image produced in our minds that is not generated by the effect of movement of the mouth or lips or a sound emitted by the throat. In physical terms it is the product of neuronal activity in our brain allowing us to reconstruct parts of the reality.

How it works?
The meaning depends on the individual, since it is the result that comes from the process of knowing that we have described in previous articles. The human being stands in front reality and abstracts immediately what is before the eyes, cataloging, archiving and creating acoustic images of what seems important using its cognitive filters, its own experience, any physical limitations and cultural filters.

However, while every person endows with different shades or variations the meaning of things, conventionally they have the necessary elements to enhance an understanding among members of a society. That is, if I hear the word “elephant” I can imagine a good animal to help me to move wood and make a living or I can imagine a poor animal living in a circus where he is mistreated; at the end even though we can find two or more acceptations of the word elephant, most of the will keep in its mind the general convention of an elephant: a wild animal, with four legs, rough skin, a large trunk, with horns and that makes a peculiar sound.

What is it for?
As we have seen so far, the meaning is an abstraction of reality that is bond to a sign. Most often communication problems arise when there are problems in the convention of the meanings of words; e. g. Lets imagine “A” says to “B” the word “red”. If “A” understands differently the word “red” than the way “B” does, then even though the message is well structured, “A’s” central idea will never reach “B”. Therefore, the meaning will allow the success in the communication.


We Recommend:
MICHAEL WILLIAMS, Problems of Knowledge: A Critical Introduction to Epistemology.
JENNIFER LACKEY, Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge.