Essay: Syntagm and System

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  • Subject area(s): Linguistics essays
  • Reading time: 7 minutes
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  • Published on: July 28, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
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Barthes (1964) defines the Syntagm as an elongated mixture of signs. Within semantic analyses, this would be something like a sentence, where each is intertwined to the other terms within the phrase. The Syntagm is likened to the system, which means other words within the mind, as in the case of the relations between “learning” and “internship” (Barthes, 1964, p. 58). Barthes goes further upon these minds by connecting them Semiologically to different systems, e.g. food. In food system, the systematic level becomes the various bags within a particular level (i.e. types of desserts), whereas the syntagmatic level becomes the menu choices selected for a full meal.

Denotation and Connotation

The words denotation and connotation were used by Barthes for investigating the correlation between systems. Semiological system can be thought of as consisting of an expression, a plane of content and a relation between the two. A connotation then unravels how one system can act as a signifier of this first relation, most especially how it represents the expression within the first system (Barthes, 1964). These elements were importantly useful for unravelling relations among systems of symbols, instead of just relations between elements.


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