Semiotic Approach to Media Language


Michael Ejstrup, Danish School of Media and Journalism, Denmark
Bjarne le Fevre Jakobsen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Published: June 2016

Citation: Ejstrup, M., & le Fevre Jakobsen, B. (2016). Semiotic Approach to Media Language. IAFOR Journal of Media, Communication & Film, 3(1).


Semiotic analyses of media language aim for a social and cultural interpretation of a given communication. “Be clear, not obscure”: this is one of four maxims (Grice) for optimal communication that teaches the necessity of being clear and concise. There are undoubtedly many contexts where it is important for mutual understanding that we be clear and concise; for instance, instructions for electronic equipment and for household appliances. The question is raised, however, whether semiotic brevity, clarity and concision is preferable in all contexts, and indeed, there is some evidence to the contrary. Culture and globalization means that media need to be very cognisant of the stringency with which they handle the advice to be linguistically clear and concise. The need to pay attention to situational awareness is highly visible and intrusive, and arguably crucial for the survival of free speech.


free speech, globalisation, linguistic obscurity, situational awareness