- Series: The Basics
- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (March 8, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415363756
- ISBN-13: 978-0415363754
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Semiotics: The Basics 2nd Edition
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'A very useful book, not only for those who wish to find out about semiotics, but also for those interested in finding out how language or any other sign system is far from being a neutral means of communication.' - Juan A. Prieto-Pablos, University of Seville, Spain
'The book is well written and up-to-date, without unnecassary verbosity or jargon, and yet reflects the complexity of the field and its problems.' - Journal of Pragmatics
'This an excellent basic introduction to the subject, with a good glossary, an index, and a list of further reading.' - www.mantex.co.uk
'Chandler's Semiotics: The Basics is an outstanding introduction to the field for students new to cultural studies. It is an ideal classroom text, and it covers a great deal of ground quickly while avoiding oversimplification or a specific and narrow agenda... There is no better introduction to semiotics anywhere.' - Professor Gregory Eiselein, Kansas State University, USA
About the Author
Daniel Chandler is a Lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
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Top Customer Reviews
KINDLE USERS: Some aspects of the book are frustrating. Paragraphs are not indented, the table of contents is not formatted well, and navigation from one chapter to another is not as good as it might be. This book, like many others, shows how unnecessarily indebted the Kindle model is to the print version. Special terms are highlighted, rightly so, but there is no connection between the narrative and the glossary of terms that resides in the back. References are given in author-date format, but no hyperlink is there, to take you to the bibliography. The index retains the original page numbers, which could be helpful for someone writing a paper and getting documentation down. But entries with multiple references do not distinguish between the one or two very important passages and the remaining ancillary discussions. I found a few typographical errors.
Semiotics is a specialized field of study with its own peculiar jargon. Understanding that jargon is essential to understanding semiotics. The particular jargon used by semioticians is especially difficult for the uninitiated to grasp. That's why breaking through the jargon barrier is the single most important thing that an introductory text on semiotics has to do. Unfortunately, that's the one thing that this otherwise excellent text fails to accomplish, in my opinion. Though it provides a thorough overview of the subject, readers who are new to semiotics may have difficulty "grokking" some of the concepts discussed in this book, not because the concepts themselves are all that challenging, but because the terminology used to explain those concepts can be. Novice readers who are not yet accustomed to the jargon of semiotics may lack the necessary frame of reference for making intuitive sense of some of these terms. Although the author does explain each new term as he introduces it -- and he also provides a helpful glossary of these terms at the back of the book -- there are so many unfamiliar new terms for the beginner to learn, and their meaning and usage within the field of semiotics can be so convoluted, that it's difficult to keep track of them all and not get bogged down in all the jargon. The author needs to bear in mind that he is writing an introductory text for novice readers who are not yet in the habit of using these terms as part of their everyday vocabulary. He throws too many new terms at the reader too quickly, without taking sufficient measures to ensure that the reader has the necessary frame of reference in order to make sense of these terms and the concepts they represent. There's a certain irony in this, since the book itself discusses the fact that no text can be understood unless the reader understands the "code" in which the text is written. Here's a short passage from the book that both discusses and illustrates this very phenomenon: "A textual code can be defined as a set of ways of reading which its producers and readers share. Not everyone has access to the relevant codes for reading (or writing) a text. The phatic function excludes as well as includes certain readers. Those who share the code are members of the same 'interpretive community'" (page 194). In my view, the primary responsibility of an introductory text on any subject is to initiate novice readers into the "interpretative community" of people who understand and discuss that particular subject. Though I feel that this book does a good job of covering the basics of semiotics, I'm just not convinced that it lives up to this primary responsibility. Does the first-time reader with no prior exposure to the subject come away from this book with the feeling that he or she has been taught the secret "code" needed to interpret the academic literature on semiotics, or does he or she come away feeling that this subject is so jargon-laden as to be virtually unintelligible to anyone outside of the discipline itself? While I can't be entirely sure (since this book was not my first exposure to semiotics) I suspect the latter is more likely than the former.
What improvements could the author have made to this text in order to break through the jargon barrier and help novice readers make sense of it? There are a number of things he could have done, such as occasionally refreshing the reader's memory about what certain terms mean. But, in my opinion, the single biggest way to improve this book would have been to include more examples illustrating the concepts being discussed. The author does provide a number of illustrative examples throughout the text, which really help to clarify what he is talking about; but, personally, I felt that there just weren't enough of them. On virtually every page of this book I had occasion to wish that I could ask the author to give me an example to illustrate what he meant. Perhaps if he had given me every example I wished for, this book would have ended up being two or three times as long as it now is; but I don't think that would have been such a bad thing. As far as I'm concerned, a long book that you can understand the first time you read it is preferable to a short book that you have to read two or three times in order to fully digest.
I'm glad I read this book. It's very informative. I think it would make an excellent text for a university course on semiotics, where a professor is available to help the students with some of the more difficult terminology. But, if you're trying to learn semiotics on your own, I wouldn't recommend using this book as your only text. You should read this, of course, since it does give a very thorough introduction to the subject; but you'll need to supplement it with other materials to help you get a better intuitive grasp of the jargon.