Visual semiotics : a study of images in Japanese advertisements
The thesis begins an exploration of the way in which Japanese visual semiotics works. In this it focuses on the formal representations of visual elements: visual syntax. Specifically, this thesis examines the way in which visual representations are realisations of three types of semiotic metafunctions: the Ideational, Textual and Interpersonal. In order to gain a clear idea about Japanese visual semiotics, I compare them with British counterparts in a relatively minor way. There is some consideration of Japanese and British cultural value systems as revealed through an analysis of the visual. It is widely accepted that language is rule-governed, and that the rules of this system are closely related to the social and cultural environment in which they are produced. This is the basis of most work in sociolinguistics, of a very wide variety. The same assumption, however, is not normally made of other semiotic modes such as the visual. This study uses advertisements as the data; and it is through that data that the issue of visual semiotics is considered. Advertisements are examples par excellence of the connection of cultural values and visual semiotics; they are also a rich source for the study of visual communication, and are widely available and comparable across Japanese and British cultures. To some small extent it shows how similarly and differently they are manifested in Japanese and British examples. The findings of the thesis point to quite specific organizations of visual representations in Japanese culture, and to differences between the two cultures. Such differences give rise to different kinds of reading with different meanings, and are therefore of great significance in a cross-cultural semiotic environment.