According to Saussure, the signified is the conceptual element of the sign.
It is not the real object denoted by a sign -- the referent -- but a psychological entity corresponding to such an object.
Primacy of the Signifier=
For Saussure, the signified has the same status as the signifier; both form equal sides of the sign.
Lacan, on the other hand, asserts the primacy of the signifier, and argues that the signified is a mere effect of the play of signifiers, an effect of the process of signification produced by metaphor.
In other words, the signified is not given, but produced.
=Priority of Language
Lacan's view is thus opposed to an expressionist view of language, according to which concepts exist in some pre-verbal state before being expressed in the material medium of language.
In contrast to such a view, Lacan asserts the priority (logical rather than chronological) of the material element of language.
- ↑ Saussure, Ferdinand. (1916) Course in General Linguistics, ed. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, trans. Wade Baskin, Glasgow: Collins Fontana. p.66-7