Skip to content Skip to footer

Communication Diagrams

The study of communication as a field is vast and complex. Our goal here is to present you with three communication diagrams[1] by order as an exercise that allows you to test your comprehension. We invite you to limit your observation to elements that you learned until now.

1. Ferdinand de Saussure’s Communication Diagram

2. Roman Jakobson’s Communication Diagram

3. Catherine Kerbrat-Orecchioni’s Communication Diagram

4. Some Possible Answers

By observing the form of the first, the second, and the third diagram, we can learn that they are arranged by order of complexity; The first one is simpler than the second, and this latter is less complicated than the third: There is a clear evolution.

The first diagram shows the circuit that is formed during communication, starting from the formation of sign in the mind, then its transformation into physical waves thanks to phonatory organs, then its travel in the air to the ear of the listener, which will communicate it to the brain and the mind next.

The second diagram adds more elements including context, contact, and code. Context is anything that surrounds/and to what the communication event refers to. Contact represents the established and maintained contact between the sender and the receiver on the physical and psychological levels. And finally, the code that the two share.

By adding context, this second diagram adds the extralinguistic. However, is code alone enough for successful communication? Also, is it adequate to talk about codes or languages when these are in use?

The third diagram adds the ideas of linguistic, cultural, and ideological competencies, as well as psychological determinations and constraints of the universe of discourse on the production and the interpretation level to demonstrate that the code alone is insufficient and that the code in use is no more a code, but a discourse.

[1] It is important to note that a communication diagram does not represent communication solely, but also the system of the author in question. On top of communication, the diagram of Ferdinand de Saussure, for instance, expresses the structural ideas of communication.


Atkin, Albert. “Peirce’s Theory of Signs.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Summer 2013. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, 2013.

Boyer, Henri. Introduction à la sociolinguistique. Les topos : Psychologie. Paris: Dunod, 2001.

Calvet, Louis-Jean. La sociolinguistique. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2015.

Chabanne, Jean-Charles. “Verbal, Paraverbal et Non-Verbal Dans l’interaction Verbale Humoristique.” In Approches Du Discours Comique, edited by J. M. Defays et L. Rosier, 35–53. Philosophie et Langage. Mardaga, 1999.

Charaudeau, Patrick. Langage et discours: éléments de sémiolinguistique ; (théorie et pratique). Langue, linguistique, communication. Paris: Hachette, 1983.

“Charles Sanders Peirce : La Sémiotique / Signo – Théories Sémiotiques Appliquées.” Accessed February 4, 2021.’est,son%20action%20sur%20l’interpr%C3%A8te.

Courtés, Joseph. La semiotique du langage. Paris: Armand Colin, 2011.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Deconstruction | Definition, Philosophy, Theory, Examples, & Facts.” Accessed February 23, 2021.

Fisette, Jean. “Peirce et Saussure : Regards Croisés et Lectures En Boucles.” Recherches Sémiotiques 34, no. 1-2–3 (July 28, 2016): 229–55.

Gillet, Claude. “Des Dangers de l’abus Du Schéma Jakobsonien Sur La Communication.” Études de Communication, no. 2 (March 1, 1983): 4–7.

Hénault, Anne. “Image et texte au regard de la sémiotique.” Le francais aujourd’hui n° 161, no. 2 (2008): 11–20.

“Jacques Derrida : Déconstruction et Différance / Signo – Théories Sémiotiques Appliquées.” Accessed February 23, 2021.’ensemble,1.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Julia Kristeva | French Author.” Accessed February 23, 2021.

“Julia Kristeva : La Sémanalyse. L’engendrement de La Formule / Signo – Théories Sémiotiques Appliquées.” Accessed February 23, 2021.’expression%20%C2%AB%20engendrement%20de%20la,de%20suivre%20pas%20%C3%A0%20pas.

Khettab, Sid Ahmed. “How Has Teun Van Dijk Come to Discourse and Knowledge?,” 2019.

———. “The Evolution of Science: The Kuhn Cycle,” 2020.

Maingueneau, Dominique. Analyser les textes de communication. Nouv. éd. rev. et augm. ICOM Série Discours et communication. Paris: Colin, 2012.

———. Discours et analyse du discours: une introduction. ICOM Série “Discours et communication.” Paris: Armand Colin, 2014.

———. Les termes clés de l’analyse du discours. Mémo Lettres 20. Paris: Seuil, 1996.

Moeschler, Jacques, and Antoine Auchlin. Introduction à la linguistique contemporaine. 3. ed. Collection cursus Linguistique. Paris: Colin, 2009.

Morris, Charles W. “The History of Semiotics.” In Signs, Language, and Behavior. New York: G. Braziller, 1946.

Peter, Wunderli. “Ferdinand de Saussure: La Sémiologie et Les Sémiologies.” signosemio, n.d.

Posner, Roland. “Post-Modernism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Semiotics? Sign Theory at the Fin de Siècle.” Semiotica 2011, no. 183 (January 2011).

Rühl, Marco. “1. Sémiologie et Linguistique : Les Bases Jetées Par Ferdinand de Saussure.” In Linguistique Pour Germanistes : Une Tentative de Médiation Entre La Tradition Française et La Tradition Allemande de l’étude de La Langue Allemande, 19–33. Hors Collection. Lyon: ENS Éditions, 2014.

Sarfati, Georges Elia. Eléments d’analyse du discours. 128 Linguistique 156. Paris: Colin, 2005.

Saussure, Ferdinand de, Charles Bally, and Tullio De Mauro. Cours de linguistique générale. Éd. critique, [Nachdr. der Ausg. 1916]. Grande bibliothèque Payot. Paris: Payot, 2005.

Oxford Reference. “Semanalysis.” Accessed February 23, 2021.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Semiotics | Definition, Theory, Examples, & Facts.” Accessed February 23, 2021.

“Semiotics for Beginners: Signs.” Accessed February 1, 2021.

“SFU: Introduction to French Linguistics I.” Accessed February 6, 2021.

Siouffi, Gilles, and Dan Van Raemdonck. 100 fiches pour comprendre la linguistique: 1er cycle universitaire. Paris: Bréal, 2012.

Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain | Big Think. Accessed February 21, 2021.

“What Does Semiosis Mean?” Accessed February 4, 2021.

Yakin, Halina Sendera Mohd., and Andreas Totu. “The Semiotic Perspectives of Peirce and Saussure: A Brief Comparative Study.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 155 (November 2014): 4–8.

———. “The Semiotic Perspectives of Peirce and Saussure: A Brief Comparative Study.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 155 (November 2014): 4–8.

“Communication Diagram” is part of:

Khettab, Sid Ahmed. Semiotics and Semiology: From Sign to Semiosis and From Code to Discourse [Course]. 2021. (Datacite) [Online Article]

KHETTAB, Sid Ahmed. Semiotics and Semiology: From Sign to Semiosis and From Code to Discourse. Independently published, 2021, [Paperback]

Leave a comment