signified (sigmyiÈ) According to Saussure, the signified is the concep-
tual element of the SIGN. It iS DOt the real object denoted by a sign (the
referent), but a psychological entity corresponding to such an object
(Saussure, 1916: 66-7).
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 supremacy 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.
Lacan's view is thus opposed to an expressionist view of language, accord-
ing 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.