Visual syntax semantics and pragmatics

In week 4, it's all about visual syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. What do these three concepts mean?

First and foremost, the definition of syntax according to Robert Valin Jr. (2001) which is also known as "syntaxis" in Ancient Greek, is a verbal noun which literally means 'arrangement' or 'setting out together' of words that are arranged to show connections of meaning. In other words, visual syntax is the forming of words or sentences when seeing and object or image. For example: when a boy, no older than six who sees a dog on the streets will spell out the letters D-O-G as he believes the letter D represents the dog.

In this case, using Paul Martin Lester (2006) theory "Syntactic Theory of Visual Communication" is far more clearer as to why we need to understand visual communication. He believes that images now fill out everyday life, whether in newspapers, magazines, books and even clothing represents millions of words. However, it does depends on how we perceive the image, for example: a man only exposed in semi-light. Therefore, our mind will automatically, analyze the image and give a visual syntax with the words, mysterious, dangerous, fear, drugs and so on.

Second is semantics, according to linguist Lynne Murphy, (2010) defines semantics as "the study of word meaning." This is useful for analyzing visual communication because of four main factors: Kinesics is the study of body language, proxemics is the study of relationships, ethmology is the study of change in meanings due to time and space, and lastly semiotics the study of signs. It all ties to learning the human behavior on how and why they react to signs or images.

And lastly, pragmatics is defined as the set of rules that determines the perception of signs and images. Rules such as codes, modality, the sender, the receiver, and context determine the changes in meaning of the signification and sign in visual communication. Firstly, codes are the ideology taught to individuals to understand what they see. For example: a car is a car, not a train. Secondly, modality is defined as the message that is transmit information, for example the perception of "who is the terrorists" the media portrays. Those who control the mediums of information are the senders, they have the power to transmit either corrupt information or justice information to the receiver to follow and conform to these values. Lastly, is the context of message: space and time changes the use of language. In modern society, it is now liberal to swear, however using the same word in different situations can determine what the person is actually saying.

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