18 Definition of TermsFor better understanding some operational

1.8 Definition of Terms

For better understanding, some operational words will be defined. As far as this work is concerned, these concepts will be approached from the context of these definitions.


The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria writing in The Nigeria Code of Advertising Practice defines advertising as a form of communication through media about products, services, or ideas, paid for by an identified sponsor. This definition was further elaborated on by Shimp, who defined advertising as a paid, mediated form of communication from an identifiable source, designed to persuade the receiver to take some action, now or in the future (7).

The word “paid” in these definitions distinguished advertising from public relations that secures unpaid space or time in media due to the news value of the content. The expression “mediated communication” is designed to distinguish advertising, which typically is conveyed via print and electronic media, from person-to-person forms of communication including personal selling and word of mouth.


A code is an established rule for linking signs to their meaning.

In communication studies, a message is often described as being “encoded” from the sender and then “decoded” by the receiver. The encoding process works on multiple levels. For semiotics, a code is the framework, and a shared conceptual connection at work in all uses of signs, language and visual.

Codes also function at the symbolic and ideological level. These interpretive frames were termed “myths” by Roland Barthes in his seminal collection of essays called Mythologies. The use of codes pervades all aspects of culture from basic verbal communication to mass media.

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We have codes for all kinds of popular culture genres, all the symbolic moves in advertising, political terms, race, and identity (Faculty).

Codes are not simply “convention” of communication but rather procedural systems of related conventions, which operate in certain domains. Codes organize signs into meaningful systems, which correlate signifiers and signified. Codes transcend single texts, linking them together in an interpretative framework. Stephen Health states that “codes are interpretive frameworks, which are used by both producers and interpreters of texts”. Texts select and combine signs in relation to the codes which are familiar in order to limit the range of possible meanings they are likely to generate when read by others. In reading texts, one is meant to interpret signs with reference to what seem to be appropriate codes (Chandler).


“Manipulation” comes with different meanings. For the purpose of the study, however, the word will be seen in the artistic sense of skillfully handling of media equipment and techniques in order to give birth to a well-represented and mediated product. This goes from the dexterous use of camera in the course of shooting motion picture, the use of time/duration to create subconscious effect on the audience in a video clip, the use of colour and shades to make impressions in a print media text, and the use of sounds to play on the emotional positions of a listener of an audio content.

Manipulation, in the sense it will be used in this study can take place during the pre-production stage, added during the production stage or effectively administered during the post-production stage of a media text. While this does not necessary puncture the credibility of the content of the text, it raises a lot of argument over what the effect of such handling is to the sub-conscious being of the audience, listeners or readers. This leads us to subliminal manipulation- itself- a tested driver of beyond the threshold enforcer of idea and imagery. In all, one thing remains unique of manipulation (and by extension to subliminal manipulation)- the ability of such contents to influence emotional sphere with the help of technologically-aided mediated channels.

Non-verbal Cues

Nonverbal communication is generally a nonlinguistic form of communication. It is a complex process of message or meaning based on instruments or behaviours other than words, and facilitated by a well defined cultural context. These types of communication have basically been classified with respect to over nine determining factors including environmental determinants (architectural style, lighting smell, color, temperature etc), proxemics, kinesis, touching, physical characteristics (physique, breath, odor, height, weight, hair, skin color), paralanguage, artifacts, oculesis and chronemics, Nonverbal communication scholars have equally provided classifications of these phenomena based on their vocal or non-vocal nature. In line with this, vocal forms of nonverbal communication include paralanguage (that is nonverbal cues surrounding speech notably pitch, volume, tempo and intensity of the voice). Meanwhile, non-vocal forms of nonverbal communication include kinesis (otherwise called body language) which will include facial expression, gestures posture, eye contacts and body movement. An important characteristic of nonverbal communication is the fact that it is culture-based. This, coupled with the fact that it may involve the use of signs (non-linguistic phenomena), makes it plausible to count.

Non verbal communication, for the purpose of this study will be further categorized into involuntary and voluntary types. Involuntary nonverbal communications, as the name implies, are used without the negotiators being aware that they communicate nonverbally. Body language is, for instance, one area where the involuntary nature of nonverbal communication is particularly evident. People unintentionally convey nonverbal signals by their facial expressions, gestures, and body postures. For example, people telling falsehoods often involuntary send a telltale nonverbal message to listeners by frequently blinking their eyes. Since involuntary nonverbal communications represent unplanned physical responses, this communication form tends to be particularly revealing and more honest than verbal communication or even conscious nonverbal communication.

Voluntary nonverbal communications on the other hand are those non verbal forms controlled by a knowledgeable person. For instance, a blink can be used to determine falsehood while a person who knows that a hug indicates friendship can consciously hug his/her worst enemy as trick to put the person off guard or as part of an effort to improve their relationship.

There are further categorization of non-verbal cues and movements by different authors. Ekman categorized non-verbal movements on the basis of their functions, origins, and meanings. These categories include emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators, and adaptors (28).

Emblems are nonverbal movements that substitute for words and phrase while illustrators are movements that accompany or reinforce verbal messages. These nonverbal cues tend to be more universal than many in the other four categories of movement. Affect displays are nonverbal movements of the face and used to show emotion. Watch people’s behavior when their favorite team wins a game, listen to the door slams when an angry person leaves the room, and watch men make threatening moves when they are very upset with each other but don’t really want to fight. Finally, regulators are nonverbal movements that control the flow of pace of communication while adaptors are those that are mostly performed in private but rarely in public.


Obscenity is the use of language or behavior connected with sex in a way that most people may find offensive. Obscenity is a more or less elusive concept as “nobody has yet come up with a definition of obscenity that seems to satisfy everybody.” (Dominick 422) The difficulty in defining the concept is connected to cultural differences and differences in gender’s reading of sexuality. Haralambos and Holborn opine that:

The age of audience has been one key concern among researchers into the depiction of sexuality in the media. This is because younger viewers have little or no real-life experience and they are more susceptible to influence – they are blank sheets on which the media can write … Gender is a second important variable. Men and women tend to ‘read’ pornography differently … It is in short, extremely difficult to generalize about structural differences in audience reception of depictions of sexuality in the media as a whole. (735)

Considering the difficulty of arriving at a contextual definition of the concept, each censorial board or force advances its definition through defined codes. In the United States for instance, the Supreme Court has defined some principles for testing pornography. Dominick document that the new test of pornography includes the following principles:

(1)Whether applying contemporary community standards, would the work as a whole appeal to prurient interest; (2) whether the work depicts or describes a patently offensive way certain sexual conduct that is specially spelled out by a state law; (3) whether the whole work lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. (421)

In the context of Nigeria, The NBC code defines obscenity as “a graphic representation of lewd sexual activity, verbal or physical violence or bloodletting, portrayed in a socially offensive manner, especially if it is not indispensable in the total communication of an idea.” (121)


Pornography is media content, book, video, photographs that describe or show naked people and sexual acts in order to make people feel sexually excited, especially in a way that many other people find offensive (Wehmeier 903). According to the NBC Code, it is “any material capable of causing sexual excitement or offending cultural sensibility.” (121)


Sign for the purpose of this study is defined as a pattern of data which, when perceived, brings to mind something other than itself (Chandler). The term can refer to the relationship among the elements of the semiotic model. All the individuals are meaning-makers. Distinctively, we make meanings through our creation and interpretation of “sign”. Signs make sense only when they are invested with meanings. Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as ‘signifying’ something – referring to or standing for something other than itself. The concept of sign is central to the semiotic approach to the study of communication. Branston and Stafford sees signs from three main characteristics explained briefly as: (i) signifier. – the physical forms are sometimes marks on paper, and sometimes sound in the air (ii) the signified- that which is fered to (iii) the referent- that which the signifier and the signified refer to

A sign can be iconic, indexical or symbolic (or a simultaneous mixture of all). Indexical signs work by association to what they signify. The iconic resembles that which it describes while the symbolic may have no resemblance to what they signify.

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