Marcel Danesi: "The Interconnectedness Principle and the Semiotic Analysis of Discourse"


Finally, a third type of connotative signified can be fleshed out of the discourse circuits captured on the tapes. This can be called a mythic signified andcan be defined as a connotation derived from mythic themes, characters, and settings. Thus the mythic theme of good vs. evil is a signified that influences, for instance, the perception of sports events, whereby the home team = the good and the visiting team = the bad. In one conversation, an interlocutor referred to a colleague as someone who has "fallen into disgrace," an expression triggered by the mythic signified thatcomes from the story of Adam and Eve.


Concluding Remarks

The main implication for the study of discourse that crystallizes from the interconnectedness principle is that the meaning of a conversation is determinable in terms of circuits that are interconnected connotatively to each other. This principle thus provides a framework for relating what would appear to be disparate and heterogeneous stretches of conversation to each other. The connotative circuits of conversation provide the "conceptual maps" that keep discourse acts meaningful. Conversation is apparently a mental journey that leads to various places according to the situation and to the interlocutors, but all within the same connotative map space.

The interconnectedness principleis not new. It has been identified in various ways, and with differing terminological guises, in the relevant literature. I have offered it here as synthetic statement to make it testable for use in further research on discourse. What it attempts to make clear is that systems of representation are not based on literal-denotative, but rather on the subjective paths that connotative circuits entail. Unlike a machine, a human being can construct models of meaning in the very process of making them. Most of these are socially motivated. As McNeill (1987: 263) aptly puts it, "We become linguistically conscious by mentally simulating social experience."

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AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 6 : Page 7 / 8

© 1999, AS/SA

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