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201. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Bruno Osimo Jakobson: Translation as imputed similarity
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Jakobson, in his essays, has tried to insert Peirce’s typology of signs (icon, index, symbol) in his own binary logic, in which every feature of a text may be considered or dismissed either with a 0 or with a 1 (absent, present). In so doing, he used the features “similarity versus contiguity” and “imputed versus factual”, and discovered that the notion of “imputed similarity” was not covered by Peirce’s triad. Hence the search for it. In this article, whose ideological basis and quotations are mostly from Jakobson’s essays, the author tries to show that the notion of “translation” may be the missing link. Starting from Peirce’s main triad, and its initial incomprehension among Western scholars influenced by Saussure, the interpretant is then viewed as the subjective, affective component of sign and its interpretation. Syntax, considered in Peircean and Jakobsonian terms, is iconic. The evolution of meaning, characterizing all communication, is possible thanks to construction and thanks to metaphoric and metonymic connections. In the last part of the article, cultural implications of communication — and translation — are considered.
202. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Peeter Torop Translation and semiotics
203. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
John Deely From semiosis to semioethics: The full vista of the action of signs
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How anything acts depends upon what it is, both as a kind of thing and as a distinct individual of that kind: “agere sequitur esse” — action follows being. This is as true of signs as it is of lions or centipedes: therefore, in order to determine the range or extent of semiosis we need above all to determine the kind of being at stake under the name “sign”. Since Poinsot, in a thesis that the work of Peirce centuries later confirmed, the proper being of signs as signs lies in a relation, a relationship irreducibly unifying three distinct terms: a foreground term representing another than itself — the representamen or sign vehicle; the other represented — the significate or object signified; and the third term to or for whom the other-representation is made — the interpretant, which need not be a person and, indeed, need not even be mental. The action of signs then is the way signs influence the world, including the world of experience and knowledge, but extending even to the physical world of nature beyond the living. It is a question of what is the causality proper to signs in consequence of the being proper to them as signs, an indirect causality, just as relations are indirectly dependent upon the interactions of individuals making up the plurality of the universe; and a causality that models what could or might be in contrast to what is here and now. To associate this causality with final causality is correct insofar as signs are employed in shaping the interactions of individual things; but to equate this causality with “teleology” is a fundamental error into which the contemporary development of semiotics has been inclined to fall, largely through some published passages of Peirce from an essay within which he corrects this error but in passages so far left unpublished. By bringing these passages to light, in which Peirce points exactly in the direction earlier indicated by Poinsot, this essay attempts a kind of survey of the contemporary semiotic development in which the full vista of semiosis is laid out, and shown to be co-extensive with the boundaries of the universe itself, wherever they might fall. Precisely the indirect extrinsically specificative formal causality that signs exercise is what enables the “influence of the future” according to which semiosis changes the relevance of past to present in the interactions of Secondness. Understanding of this point (the causality proper to signs) also manifests the error of reducing the universe to signs, the error sometimes called “pansemiosis”.
204. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Dinda L. Gorlée Jakobson and Peirce: Translational intersemiosis and symbiosis in opera
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Metalinguistic operations signify understanding and translation, specified in Jakobson’s varieties of six language functions and his three types of translation. Both models were first presented in the 1950s. This article is rooted in Jakobson’s models in connection with Peirce’s three categories. Bühler’s three functions with qualitative difference anticipated, perhaps not accidentally, Jakobson’s distinctions indicating qualitative difference within literary forms and structures as well as other fine arts. The semiotic discovery, criticism and perspective of elements and code-units settle the numerical differences as well as the differences in realistic messages and conceptual codes. Jakobson’s intersemiotic translation is updated in vocal translation, which deals with the virtual reality of opera on stage, reaching a catharsis of the operatic mystique. The word-tone synthesis of opera (or semiosic symbiosis) will demonstrate the typological unification of verbal and nonverbal languages.
205. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 36 > Issue: 2
Elin Sütiste Roman Jakobson and the topic of translation: Reception in academic reference works
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The article describes and analyses connections established between Roman Jakobson’s scholarly legacy and the topic of translation in a selection of academic reference works. The aim in doing so is twofold: first, to look beyond the conventionalised image of Jakobson as an influential scholar for several disciplines, such as translation studies, linguistics and semiotics, and to provide an overview of the actual reception of his ideas on the level of general academic knowledge as presented by scholarly reference works in these fields. Another aim is to find out whether and how Jakobson’s ideas on translation are seen to relate to his other ideas concerning language and communication. It appears that — while there also exist some differences fieldwise as well as among individual reference works — the general reception of Jakobson is based predominantly on just two of his articles (out of his overall legacy of several hundred works) and to a large extent ignores the inner logic of Jakobson’s thought as it manifests in his different works (i.e. there are few connections made between his ideas expressed in his different works).
206. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Umberto Eco On the ontology of fictional characters: A semiotic approach
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Why are we deeply moved by the misfortune of Anna Karenina if we are fully aware that she is simply a fictional character who does not exist in our world?But what does it mean that fictional characters do not exist? The present article is concerned with the ontology of fictional characters. The author concludes thatsuccessful fictional characters become paramount examples of the ‘real’ human condition because they live in an incomplete world what we have cognitive access to but cannot influence in any way and where no deeds can be undone. Unlike all the other semiotic objects, which are culturally subject to revisions, and perhaps only similar to mathematical entities, the fictual characters will never change and will remain the actors of what they did once and forever
207. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Sergey V. Chebanov, Anton Markoš A text on biosemiotic themes
208. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Prisca Augustyn Translating Jakob von Uexküll — Reframing Umweltlehre as biosemiotics
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Thomas Sebeok attributed it to what he called the ‘wretched’ translation of Uexküll’s Theoretische Biologie (1920) that the notion of Umwelt did not reachthe Anglo-American intellectual community much earlier. There is no doubt that making more of Uexküll’s Umweltlehre available in English will not only furtherthe biosemiotic movement, but also fill a gap in the foundational theoretical canon of semiotics in general. The purpose of this paper is to address issues of terminology and theory translation between Uexküll’s Umweltlehre and current biosemiotics.
209. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Patrizia Calefato Language in social reproduction: Sociolinguistics and sociosemiotics
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This paper focuses on the semiotic foundations of sociolinguistics. Starting from the definition of “sociolinguistics” given by the philosopher Adam Schaff, the paper examines in particular the notion of “critical sociolinguistics” as theorized by the Italian semiotician Ferruccio Rossi-Landi. The basis of the social dimension of language are to be found in what Rossi-Landi calls “social reproduction” which regards both verbal and non-verbal signs. Saussure’s notionof langue can be considered in this way, with reference not only to his Course of General Linguistics, but also to his Harvard Manuscripts.The paper goes on trying also to understand Roland Barthes’s provocative definition of semiology as a part of linguistics (and not vice-versa) as well asdeveloping the notion of communication-production in this perspective. Some articles of Roman Jakobson of the sixties allow us to reflect in a manner which wenow call “socio-semiotic” on the processes of transformation of the “organic” signs into signs of a new type, which articulate the relationship between organicand instrumental. In this sense, socio-linguistics is intended as being sociosemiotics, without prejudice to the fact that the reference area must be human,since semiotics also has the prerogative of referring to the world of non-human vital signs.Socio-linguistics as socio-semiotics assumes the role of a “frontier” science, in the dual sense that it is not only on the border between science of language andthe anthropological and social sciences, but also that it can be constructed in a movement of continual “crossing frontiers” and of “contamination” betweenlanguages and disciplinary environments.
210. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Jaan Valsiner Between fiction and reality: Transforming the semiotic object
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The contrast between real and fictional characters in our thinking needs further elaboration. In this commentary on Eco’s look at the ontology of the semiotic object, I suggest that human semiotic construction entails constant modulation of the relationship between the states of the real and fictional characters in irreversible time. Literary characters are examples of crystallized fictions which function as semiotic anchors in the fluid construction — by the readers — of their understandings of the world. Literary characters are thus fictions that are real in their functions — while the actual reality of meaningmaking consists of ever new fictions of fluid (transitory) nature. Eco’s ontological look at the contrast of the semiotic object with perceptual objects (Gegenstände) in Alexius Meinong’s theorizing needs to be complemented by the semiotic subject. Cultural mythologies of human societies set the stage for such invention and maintenance of such dynamic unity of fictionally real and realistically fictional characters.
211. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Howard H. Pattee, Kalevi Kull A biosemiotic conversation: Between physics and semiotics
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In this dialogue, we discuss the contrast between inexorable physical laws and the semiotic freedom of life. We agree that material and symbolic structures require complementary descriptions, as do the many hierarchical levels of their organizations. We try to clarify our concepts of laws, constraints, rules, symbols, memory, interpreters, and semiotic control. We briefly describe our different personal backgrounds that led us to a biosemiotic approach, and we speculate on the future directions of biosemiotics.
212. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Dinda L. Gorlée A sketch of Peirce’s Firstness and its significance to art
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This essay treats the growth and development of Charles S. Peirce’s three categories, particularly studying the qualities of Peirce’s Firstness, a basic formula of “airy-nothingness” (CP: 6.455) serving as fragment to Secondness and Thirdness. The categories of feeling, willing, and knowing are not separate entities but work in interaction within the three interpretants. Interpretants are triadomaniac elements through the adopted, revised, or changed habits of belief. In works of art, the first glance of Firstness arouses the spontaneous responses of musement, expressing emotions without the struggle and resistance of factual Secondness, and not yet involving logical Thirdness. The essential qualities of a loose or vague word, color, or sound give the fugitive meanings in Firstness. The flavor, brush, timbre, color, point, line, tone or touch of the First qualities of an aesthetic object is too small a base to build the logic of aesthetic judgment. The genesis art is explained by Peirce’s undegeneracy growing into group and individual interpretants and building into the passages and whole forms of double and single forms of degeneracy. The survey of the flash of Firstness is exemplified in a variety of artworks in language, music, sculpture, painting, and film. This analysis is a preliminary aid to further studies of primary Firstness in the arts.
213. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Marcel Danesi Opposition theory and the interconnectedness of language, culture, and cognition
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The theory of opposition has always been viewed as the founding principle of structuralism within contemporary linguistics and semiotics. As an analytical technique, it has remained a staple within these disciplines, where it continues to be used as a means for identifying meaningful cues in the physical form ofsigns. However, as a theory of conceptual structure it was largely abandoned under the weight of post-structuralism starting in the 1960s — the exception tothis counter trend being the work of the Tartu School of semiotics. This essay revisits opposition theory not only as a viable theory for understanding conceptual structure, but also as a powerful technique for establishing the interconnectedness of language, culture, and cognition.
214. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Barbara Sonnenhauser Parentheticals and the dialogicity of signs
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The term ‘parenthetical’ is applied to an almost unlimited range of linguistic phenomena, which share but one common feature, namely their being used parenthetically. Parenthetic use is mostly described in terms of embedding an expression into some host sentence. Actually, however, it is anything but clearwhat it means for an expression to be used parenthetically, from both a syntactic and a semantic point of view.Given that in most, if not all, cases the alleged host sentence can be considered syntactically and semantically complete in itself, it needs to be asked what kind ofinformation the parenthetical contributes to the overall structure. Another issue to be addressed concerns the nature of the relation between parenthetical and host (explanation, question, etc.) and the question what is it that holds them together.Trying to figure out the basic function of parentheticals, the present paper proposes a semiotic analysis of parenthetically used expressions. This semioticanalysis is not intended to replace linguistic approaches1, but is meant to elaborate on why parentheticals are so hard to capture linguistically. Taking a dynamicconception of signs and sign processes (in the sense of Peirce, Voloshinov and Bahtin) as starting point, parentheticals are argued to render explicit the inherentdialogicity of signs and utterances. This inherent dialogicity is hardly ever taken into consideration in linguistic analyses, which take the two-dimensional linearityof language as granted.
215. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Karel Kleisner, Anton Markoš Mutual understanding and misunderstanding in biological systems mediated by self-representational meaning of organisms
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Modern biology gives many casuistic descriptions of mutual informational interconnections between organisms. Semiotic and hermeneutic processes in biosphere require a set of “sentient” community of players who optimize their living strategies to be able to stay in game. Perceptible surfaces of the animals, semantic organs, represent a special communicative interface that serves as an organ of self-representation of organic inwardness. This means that theinnermost dimensions and potentialities of an organism may enter the senses of other living being when effectively expressed on the outermost surfaces of theformer and meaningfully interpreted by the later. Moreover, semantic organs do not exist as objectively describable entities. They are always born via interpretative act and their actual form depends on both the potentialities of body plan of a bearer and the species-specific interpretation of a receiver. As such the semantic organs represent an important part of biological reality and thus deserve to be contextualized within existing comparative vocabulary. Here we argue that the study of the organic self-representation has a key importance for deeper insight into the evolution of communicative coupling among living beings.
216. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Andres Luure Action in signs
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The present article discusses sign typology from the perspective of action which is conceived as having a sextet structure. The relation between means and purpose in action is analogous to the relation between sign and meaning. The greater the degree in which the action has purpose, the less tool-like the action is.Peirce’s trichotomies correspond to a fragment of the sextet structure.
217. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 1/2
Irene Portis-Winner Facing emergences: Past traces and new directions in American anthropology (Why American anthropology needs semiotics of culture)
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This article considers what happened to American anthropology, which was initiated by the scientist Franz Boas, who commanded all fields of anthropology,physical, biological, and cultural. Boas was a brave field worker who explored Eskimo land, and inspired two famous students, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, to cross borders in new kinds of studies. After this florescence, there was a general return to linear descriptive positivism, superficial comparisons of quantitative cultural traits, and false evolutionary schemes, which did not introduce us to the personalities and inner worlds of the tribal peoples studied. The 1953 study by the philosopher David Bidney was a revelation. Bidney enunciated and clarified all my doubts about the paths of anthropology and his work became to some extent a model for a narration of the story of American anthropology. In many ways he envisaged a semiotics of culture formulated by Lotman. I try to illustrate the fallacies listed by Bidney and how they have been partially overcome in some later anthropological studies which have focused on symbolism, artistry, and subjective qualities of the people studied. I then try to give an overview of the school started by Lotman that spans all human behavior, that demonstrates the complexity of meaning and communication, in vast areas of knowledge, from art, literature, science, and philosophy, that abjured strict relativism and closed systems and has become an inspiration for those who want anthropology to encompass the self and the other, and Bahtin’s double meaning. This paper was inspired by Bidney as a call to explore widely all possible worlds, not to abandon science and reality but to explore deeper inner interrelations and how the aesthetic may be indeed be paramount in the complexities of communication.
218. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Gisela Kaplan Animals and music: Between cultural definitions and sensory evidence
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It was once thought that solely humans were capable of complex cognition but research has produced substantial evidence to the contrary. Art and music, however, are largely seen as unique to humans and the evidence seems to be overwhelming, or is it? Art indicates the creation of something novel, not naturallyoccurring in the environment. To prove its presence or absence in animals is difficult. Moreover, connections between music and language at a neuroscientific as well as a behavioural level are not fully explored to date. Even more problematic is the notion of an aesthetic sense. Music, so it is said, can be mimetic, whereas birdsong is not commonly thought of as being mimetic but as either imitation or mimicry and, in the latter case, as a ‘mindless’ act (parrots parroting). This paper will present a number of examples in which animals show signs of responsiveness to music and even engage in musical activity and this will be discussed from an ethological perspective. A growing body of research now reports that auditory memory and auditory mechanisms in animals are not as simplistic as once thought and evidence suggests, in some cases, the presence of musical abilities in animals.
219. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Carlo Brentari Konrad Lorenz’s epistemological criticism towards Jakob von Uexküll
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In the work of Lorenz we find an initial phase of great concordance with Uexkülls theory of animals’ surrounding-world (Umweltlehre), followed by a progressive distance and by the occurrence of more and more critical statements. The moment of greater cohesion between Lorenz and Uexküll is represented by the work Der Kumpan, which is focused on the concept of companion, functional circles, social Umwelt. The great change in Lorenz’ evaluation of Uexküll is marked by the conference of 1948 Referat über Jakob von Uexküll, where Lorenz highlights the vitalist position of Uexküll. In the works of the years after World War II, the influence of the Estonian Biologist greatly diminishes, even though Lorenz continues to express his admiration for particular studies and concepts of Uexküll. References to Uexküll’s work are less and far in between, while the difference is highlighted between the uexküllian theoretical frame (vitalistic) and Lorenz’s one (Darwinian and evolutionist). The two main critical lines of argument developed by Lorenz in this process are the biological and the epistemological one: on the biological side Lorenz heavily criticizes Uexküll’s vitalism and his faith in harmonizing forces and supernatural factors (which leads to concepts such as the perfect fusion of all biological species in their environment and the absence of rudimentary organs). On the epistemological side, Lorenz, arguing from the point of view of the critical realism, accuses Uexküll of postulating the separateness of all living beings, a separateness which is due to the Kantian idea that every subject of knowledge and action is imprisoned in the transcendental circle of its representations and attitudes.
220. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 37 > Issue: 3/4
Otto Lehto Studying the cognitive states of animals: Epistemology, ethology and ethics
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The question of cognitive endowment in animals has been fiercely debated in the scientific community during the last couple of decades (for example, in cognitive ethology and behaviourism), and indeed, all throughout the long history of natural philosophy (from Plato and Aristotle, via Descartes, to Darwin). The scientific quest for an empirical, evolutionary account of the development and emergence of cognition has met with many philosophical objections, blind alleys and epistemological quandaries. I will argue that we are dealing with conflicting philosophical world views as well as conflicting empirical paradigms of research. After looking at some examples from the relevant literature of animal studies to elucidate the nature of the conflicts that arise, I propose, in strict Darwinian orthodoxy, that cognitive endowments in nature are subject to the sort of continuum and gradation that natural selection of fit variant forms tends to generate. Somewhere between the myth of “free” humans and the myth of “behaviourally conditioned” animals lies the reality of animal behaviour and cognition. In the end, I hope to have softened up some of those deep-seated philosophical problems (and many quasi-problems) that puzzle and dazzle laymen, scientists and philosophers alike in their quest for knowledge about the natural world.