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Semiotics is the science or study of signs. A sign is something that can mean or stand for something else. Ferdinand de Saussere (1857 – 1913), a founder of linguistics and semiotics, created the science of semiology, and stated, “It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them” (Chandler, D). The Properties or attributes of Semiotics, the things that are used to distil information can be broken up into five segments: Statistical (Physical / Empirical) – Knowing how to do something, knowing the patterns or codes needed.

Syntactical – Using appropriate structure of language, data, records, logic, software or files. Semantic – Ensuring appropriate receiver interpretation, keeping in mind the meanings, denotations, significations, validity or truth of the information Pragmatic – Being clear about the intent of the information passed on using Communication, conversation, negotiation, aims and objectives. Social – The use of the correct Social Structure, including beliefs, law, expectations, contracts commitments.

This report will deal with the analysis of the chosen Annual report using three of these properties, Syntactical, Semantic and Pragmatic. The Annual Report 2003 – 2004 for the Xanadu Normans Wine Group was chosen at random from the Australian Stock Exchange website. The report itself is 56 pages long, for the purposes of this report however; focus is on pages 1 – 8 being the areas prior to the financial statements, which are set out as per requirements of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.

This report is classified as a resource of text based information. Whilst the term ‘text’may bring to mind something involving “written word” only, in a semiotic sense, anything involving signs, Television, Radio, Songs, Posters, Street signs and books are referred to as text. Users of these different types of text can be referred to as readers. (Underwood, M (nd) ) Annual reports of publicly listed companies in Australia are produced for the use of investors in the stock of that particular company. The readers or end users of this report are the individual investors.

Many of the people investing in the stock exchange are not necessarily conversant with the day to day running of the business that the company is involved in, and may be interested simply in the “bottom line”, or profit / loss of the company, or the future outlook which can relate directly to the share price. Pragmatics deals with inferential meaning, the more subtle aspects of communication. Correctly used, it can ensure that the reader receives the intended message of the text. Some aspects of Pragmatics include negotiation, aims and objectives.

To begin with pragmatic analysis seems to sensible with this report, as the first impressions, without reading anything apart from the headings, instils confidence in the reader of the text. From page one, studying the photographs of the Chairman and Managing Director, you can see confidence, trustworthiness and honesty in their body language. The “Steepling” of fingers of the chairman and the way that the Managing Director is leaning forward in his chair are body language signs of confidence. (http://www. collegegrad. com/jobsearch/15-8. shtml)

The next few pages include “History and Key Achievements” of the group, descriptions of the different wineries in their “idyllic” settings, their history or their view of being one of the fastest growing range of wines, and a list of the achievements being reached in 2003 / 2004 (pages 1 – 6). All of these pages are designed to reassure the reader of the viability of their investment in the group. When studied closer, the language used in these pages is all positive and reinforcing of the stability of the group, emphasising the goods for sale and the sales and marketing plans, and glossing over the fact that it in fact ran at a loss of $9.

5 million dollars for the financial year, mentioning this fact only once and pointing out that it was caused by inventory write-down and one-off restructuring costs. The message received by the reader of this report is that the company is stable and confident in its future. Pragmatically, this would be an important message for the managers to get across to the reader, as a loss of confidence would mean selling off of shares in the company, leading to a drop in share prices. The use of appropriate language in the sense of syntax refers to the structure of the signs or information, as opposed to the words actually used.

(i. e. the structure of the report, sentence, novel or ceremony) (Suhor, C) Many Annual Reports follow a standard format, with a few deviations depending on the type of industry or business that the company is involved in. A Director’s report, an overview of the company itself and its holdings, marketing strategies and financial statements are usually included. The Annual report of Xanadu Normans Wine Group 2003-2004, in a structural sense, encompasses the “norm” of company Annual Reports in Australia. The Chairman / Director’s report, which is first, as is standard, is well set out and clearly written.

Pages 2 (History and Key Achievements), 3 (Xanadu Margaret River), 4 (Normans) and 5 (Next Generation Wines) are almost advertisements for the Group and its products. The way the pages are laid out, with photographs of the product, the winery, and the large print headings are designed to show the product (in this case each winery in question) off to its fullest advantage. The Review of Operations, starting on page six, showing the achievements for the year, and introducing the winemaking team to the reader are also laid out in such a way as to show the product (now the company itself) off to its best advantage.

Showing Achievements first, using such bold print in the layout to draw attention to the fact that there are achievements to be read about. The report uses language that is both generic and specific to the industry. While many readers of the report will know what a Shiraz is, for example, they will not all know what a Shiraz grape looks like, how a Shiraz is produced, how long it takes to mature, or what sort of casks are used to mature it in. By using terms that are known to the general public, the report can make sense to the average shareholder.

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