Chock Full Of Innuendo

Chicken, rooster,
male, or COCK?
While traveling to visit some dear friends we visited a restaurant (KFC) and encountered this sign.  Realizing its great value I immediately snapped a photo for future use.

On more than one occasion I have flipped through the pages of a book in Barnes & Noble that talks about Semiotics, which Dictionary.com defines as:

the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.
a general theory of signs and symbolism, usually divided into the branches of pragmatics, semantics, and syntactics.

  In short, it talks about signs, such as these, and their meanings.  Signs, or words even, can be broken down into two parts, according to Ferdinand de Saussure, that is the signifier and the signified.  This means that we have the sign (signifier) and the idea in our mind (signified).  In a case such as that above we find that the image could possibly produce more than one idea in our minds, however silly the second may be.

The Wikipedia article on Connotation sums it up marvelously:
If a signifier has only a single denotational meaning, the use of the sign will always be unambiguously decoded by the audience. But connotative meanings are context-dependent, i.e. the addressee must learn how to match the meaning intended by the addresser to one of the various possible meanings held in memory.
 So, we walk into the store and see the sign and the first word that comes to mind is "COCK", which could mean more than one thing (no pun intended).  Was the original intent of the designer to cause us to associate the gender of the animal with the word "Gentlemen" or the word "COCK" with "Gentlemen"?  I suppose the answer is simple, really, and we should simply consult the adjacent sign, which is a picture of a hen.  But where would we be if the first thing that came to your mind was "EGGS"?  Then we would be in a real mess, wouldn't we?

Considering the way things are going and the ease in which one can change his natural gender it could be more accurate to associate "COCK" and "GENTLEMEN" as opposed to being born a man and therefore being a gentleman.  But then again, according to the definition of gentleman I do not believe half the men should be allowed to enter the restrooms, let alone sit on the toilet.  I'm at a loss for words...

Image from the Flickr KFC page.

Now that I think about it, a good title for this post would have been: "Cock, full of innuendo."  It would have been so much more ironic.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. It's not meant to be rude, or crude, it's just Linguistics.

  2. if they sold those, i would buy them for my home. :D

  3. I bet you could find it on ebay or amazon.com!