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Worked example: Semiotic systems at work in the text

Text: Avoid Being a Convict by Meredith Costain, pages 18 and 19

Semiotic system What can you identify in the text and what meaning does this have for the reader?

Linguistic

Letters

Words

Grammar

Vocabulary

The first letter of the text is highlighted or featured (visual feature). Does this signal a new chapter?

You may use the text on this page to closely study the use of particular grammar features and vocabulary to create meaning for the reader.

Visual

Frame/shot

Angle

Colour

Lighting

Intertextuality

Objects as symbols

 

Main image: framing/shot – long shot on main picture giving information about the setting (unloading items from the ships).

Guards/Indigenous people: medium shot (from the waist up) showing interactions between the groups; looks like the guards are trying to trade. Indigenous people are illustrated with spears and there is a reference in the text to ‘stabbings and death’.

Governor Phillip hoisting the flag: medium shot. Flag is salient feature: bright colour and blowing out of the frame.

Props: clothing looks in good condition.

Audio

Pitch

Volume

Expression

Pacing

Voice

Silence

Sound effects

Music

Call-out boxes: ‘Keep moving – we’ll soon sort out those sea-legs!’

Gestural

Expressions

Gestures

Movement

Gaze

Proximity

Physical contact

Facial expressions

Body language

Soldiers’ facial expressions: mean, angry and dumbfounded.

Convicts: strained, exhausted. (Does their appearance match the text?)

Indigenous people: inquisitive.

Spatial

Layout and landscape

How things are organised

How things are placed on a page

Setting and props

Placement, size and design of handy hint – same on every page – cohesion of text.

Chain border: cohesion of text.

Use of a main image and two smaller images in boxes giving additional information. Plus handy hint.

Foreground: convicts.

You could ask the following questions for further discussion: