What is semiotics?
‘Semiotics is the study of signs, their form of expression and contents.’
The idea is that a sign would be made up of two parts,
A Signifier (signifiant) – The form which the sign takes, that actual sign itself whether it be a gesture or physical object.
The Signified (signifie) – The concept it represents, what the sign is meant to mean to people.
A sign needs these two elements to be complete, with only the signifier there would just be a physical object or movement which would mean nothing to another person, for example if a person raised their arm and shook their hand and it was not aimed at a person or they were not trying to say anything it would just be a movement. It is not until there is the signified too that the movement has a point. In this case it would be that there was a person there that the person doing the movement intended to communicate with, so they would do the movement to sign a greeting or farewell, it’s at this point that the movement becomes a gesture. This works the same the other way round, the signified alone is just a meaning, a meaning/thought with no way of communicating this to the other person. So together they make a sign but apart they are completely different things, one being an physical state and the other a thought or meaning.