The book is an in-depth presentation of the European branch of semiotic theory, originating in the work of Ferdinand de Saussure. It has four parts: a historical introduction, the analysis of langue, narrative theory and communication theory.
Part I briefly presents all the semiotic schools and their main points of reference. Although this material is accessible in many other Anglophone publications, the presentation is marked by specific choices aiming to display similarities and differences.
The analysis of langue in Part II is also available in Anglophone bibliography, but the book presents Saussurean theory according to a new theoretical rationale and enriched with later developments. In addition, it is orientated so as to offer the foundation for the part that follows.
Part III is a presentation of Greimasian narrative theory, well documented in Francophone bibliography but poorly represented in Anglophone publications. The presentation extends the theory in both a qualitative and a new quantitative direction, and includes a great number of examples and two extended textual analyses to help the reader understand and apply it.
Part IV, communication theory, combines an extension of Greimasian sociosemiotics with other schools of thought. This original theoretical section discusses fourteen consecutive communication models, the synthesis of which results in a holistic, social semiotic theory of communication.