Semiotics or semiology is known as the study of signs, including symbols and signification. Semiotic analysis was said to have begun with Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussere (1857 – 1913) and American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914). Saussere’s semiology differs in certain ways to Pierce’s semiotics; however both involve the ‘science of signs’. Semiology is able to define how meaning is composed not what it is enabling it to be delivered through text.
Semiotics is divided into three traditional sub-disciplines compromising of semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics.
Semantics: The relationship between a word and the concept it stands for.
Syntactics (or syntax): The study of formal or structural relations between signs, including the study of sentence structure and how words are combined.
Pragmatics: The relation of signs to interpreters being the oppositions and contrasts between signifiers coming from the same set of text. The study of the way context influences the use and understanding of language.
This research report on Australian tourism profitability and productivity will be analysed semantically, syntactically, and pragmatically.
The tourism productivity and profitability report, dated February 2002, was chosen randomly from the Australian Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources website. Considering the length of this research report being only 7 pages long, the complete report will be examined using semiotic terms.
This report is considered text based, however people immediately refer to text as written words only, where in fact text based in the term of semiotic includes such things as signs (street signs, posters, etc), media (television, radio, etc), and paper based literature ( books, magazines, newspaper, etc).
Prior to the Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account being set up in 1997-1998, not much information was available to the public regarding the financial side of the Australian tourism sector.
The readers who may have interest in this report are business people, investors, travel and tourism companies such as hotel chains, entertainment companies, car rentals, airlines, restaurants and many more. However, with these research reports the public are able to obtain an extended view on how the tourism sector contributes to the Australian economy.
Pragmatics is the study of how context influences the use and understanding of language, especially in mutual situations such as replying, addressing, joking, being polite, or being persuasive.
The pragmatic choice of words used in the heading generates an assurance to the reader identifying this text to be trustworthy and acceptable.
The first paragraph titled ‘Background’ describes the reasons for the production of this kind of research report. It displays honesty in the way that the history has been explained being straight forward and not falsely misleading. As mentioned by the author, “It is emphasised that this paper does not attempt to provide a definitive analyses of these topics, but looks at how the satellite account can contribute to our knowledge.” This statement is quite strong, informing the reader that this report is used for statistical purposes only and it is intended to help the public have a better understanding about the Australian tourism activity.
From an analytical point, the language used in the report brings a positive outlook for the tourism industry, promoting gross value added (GVA), tourism labour productivity, comparison of labour productivity with other industries, profitability of the tourism sector and comparison of profitability of other industries. The breakdown summary given for each sub-heading reinforces the confidence in the report.
Overall, it enables readers to understand what the current situation is with the tourism sector improving the stability in the information presented, with added assurance of what future reports may hold.
Pragmatically, these reports are important, as any weak points may lead the reader to becoming cautious about the financial side of the tourism sector in regards to business investments and opportunities.
Semantics in semiotics is the meaning system of a language. The word ‘meaning’ has many meanings itself allowing sematic approaches to vary widely. There are three ways to view semantics. They are as follows:-
* The relationship between language and the external world.
* The mental state of the speaker, on a scale of personal and emotional sense.
* The social context in which language is used.
Semantics analyses the report by exposing wether the author is making the reader understand the message that they are putting across, correctly. Supposing that the reader does not have any background knowledge or understanding on the tourism sector and/or statistical information, the author would have to use text which will enable the reader to translate the report to gain true meaning of what is being expressed.
This publication provided by the Australian National Accounts, in association with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), provided new facts on the tourism structure and the role it plays in the Australian economy. The report has enough textual evidence to certify it appropriate for non-tourism experts to easily and unmistakably gain information on the tourism sector. With this it also communicates an emphatic feeling with it being supported by the ABS and the Australian government.
Semantically analysing the context of the report, including all the charts, indicated that the reporter has made an effort to allow anyone to understand where income is generated from in regards to the tourism sector, using a much simpler form.
In linguistics it is known that syntactics or syntax is the study of sentence structure. An alternative would be how words are delivered together into a larger morphological formation.
In semiotic terminology syntagmatic relations is defined as ‘where the signs get meaning from their sequential order, eg., grammar or the sequence of events that make up the story’.
Research reports generally include information on the topic that is being studied, statistical data, and graphical charts for reference. In this case the report analysed has provided a structure that is professional and standard, in its layout.
With it starting immediately with the background (history) of the study, exhibits the intention to be direct and readable through its clear arrangement. The remainder of the report is divided under relevant sub-headings, representing financial amounts assisted by charts.
The charts included in the report have been designed in such way that they are easily grasped and navigated. All charts have notable comments explaining the source of the information, while ensuring that they are interpreted accurately and to be used in the best possible way.
The conclusion to the research report is under the summary title on page six. This summary laid out to allow the reader to understand what the outcomes of this report are in a very straightforward style, using small paragraphs with total figures from the charts provided.
All the information displayed, wether written or in chart form, utilise both universal and specific language suitable for the tourism sector. While many readers will automatically assume that tourism relates to hotels, care, airlines and tour companies, they will be able to understand through this report that there are many other tourism sub-divisions that bring income to support the Australian economy.
The research report No 2: Tourism productivity and profitability has been researched and prepared by the Australian National Accounts Satellite in cooperation with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Pragmatically the report displays confidence in the tourism division, ABS and the tourism satellite.
Syntactically, the reports is well structured permitting the reader to investigate the background information first before continuing to the read the remainder of the report step by step, including the charts that are presented.
Semantically the choice of language used gradually introduces the reader with tourism knowledge, which they may have never known before.
Overall, this report would be considered a customary research report in all aspects for the purpose of statistical data and collection. Such reports provide a guarantee that future reports will be well presented and knowledge enhancing.