“Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades.”

Propaganda; Semiotic Analysis

What should be considered in a semiotic analysis:

  1. Detonation – physical object e.g. word ‘dog’.
  2. Connotation – understanding e.g. dog implies loyalty.
  3. Signified – what is signified in the image.
  4. Signifier -what Kind, icons, symbol or index?
  5. How does the text anchor the image? 

So lets look at this Propaganda Poster by Abram Games (Britain, 1942):

Poster by Abram Games (Britain, 1942).
Poster by Abram Games (Britain, 1942).


In the above poster the soldier is speaking and the speech is travelling and his comrades are dying.

The soldier has spoken about his knowledge regarding the military and as a result this information has travelled into enemy knowledge and they have gained an advantage therefore killing his fellow comrades.

The purpose of this poster is to scare soldiers into not speaking out about their military knowledge therefore keeping information censored.
The poster utilises a very selective colour palette.  The word ‘your’ is red and the sword is also red, implying that ‘YOU’ are killing your friends through blood & violence. ‘Your Comrades’ is yellow indicative of guilt & mustard gas. The smokey yellow texture separates the soldier from his friends.

The solider is an icon.
The speech is a symbol
The colour red is an icon.

How does the text anchor the image?
Without the text the audience would not understand what the image is depicting. I would not have recognised that the spiral was actually speech travelling out of the soldiers mouth, nor would I have interpreted the figures dying as comrades. I would have assumed they were the enemy.

I think this poster would have been very effective upon the British audience as it depicts the extent of devastation that leaked information can inflict. It successfully scares soldiers into keeping war related information censored by threatening the lives of their comrades.

Author: tjphoto

UON Design Student & Photographer Newcastle, AU

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