Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 90

specific meaning. This process supports the idea of a code in cultural studies. A code “sets up the correlation between our conceptual system and our language system” (Hall 21). Thus, placing flowers at random at any place at any time minimizes their meaning. As with oral and written communication, speakers and writers must internalize the rules (grammar) of language to communicate the intended meaning to an audience. Speakers and writers do not select language structure vicariously. They chose words and the manner of their arrangement based on the specific goals of the speaker or writer. Likewise, it appears as if persons who place nonverbal forms of discourse to express sorrow display similar kinds of knowledge about the location and manner of placing objects. In addition to Saussure’s analysis of the signifier and the signifier, Roland Barthes has contributed to the topic of semiotics from the perspective of opposition and representation. Opposition theory claims that meaning is the result of conceptualizing things in different ways. The often cited example is that night has meaning when opposed to day. Representation is the view that any text or spectacle stands for something that is not immediately stated in the text. It is our social codes that we carry around in our heads that contribute to meaning (Danesi 24). Adding to the analysis of communication in nonverbal form is Suzanne Langer’s idea of symbols. A symbol, in Langer’s analysis, brings to mind (6). For example, an expensive home in an upper-class neighborhood is a symbol in that it brings to mind the owners’ socioeconomic status. How do we obtain meaning from these modes of expression? One theoretical approach to this question is that advanced by Hall (24). According to Hall, representation is the production of meaning through language. Language, as stated above, uses signs to refer to objects, to people, and to events in the real world. However, as Hall furthers points out, language does not function like a mirror in that it directly reflects meaning. Rather, meaning is produced within a signifying process. Objects at tragic sites, in this case, function as signs provided that they have been assigned a concept and meaning within our cultural and linguistic codes (28). Signs in this analysis cover a range of possible language devices (e.g., clothing, facial expressions, gestures music and words). In using various signs at memorial sites, nonverbal in this case, individuals do so with the idea that onlookers share the same concepts associated with the signs. Audience as a Factor 85