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261. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2/4
Kati Lindström, Kalevi Kull, Hannes Palang Semiotic study of landscapes: An overview from semiology to ecosemiotics
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The article provides an overview of different approaches to the semiotic study of landscapes both in the field of semiotics proper and in landscape studiesin general. The article describes different approaches to the semiotic processes in landscapes from the semiological tradition where landscape has been seen as analogous to a text with its language, to more naturalized and phenomenological approaches, as well as ecosemiotic view of landscapes that goes beyond anthropocentric definitions. Special attention is paid to the potential of cultural semiotics of Tartu–Moscow school for the analysis of landscapes and the possibilities held by a dynamic, dialogic and holistic landscape definition for the development of ecosemiotics.
262. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2/4
Tiit Remm Understanding the city through its semiotic spatialities
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The city is a complex sociocultural phenomenon where space and time are simultaneously parts of itself and parts of its conceptualisation. In the paper I draw out three general perspectives where the city is characterised by different spatialities and temporalities. The urban space can thus be a space of rhythms and practices, an objectified dimension of the settlement, and a symbolic form in interpretations and creations of cities. The city can be understood as a semioticwhole by considering varying semiotic natures of the urban space.
263. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2/4
Juri Lotman The place of art among other modelling systems
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This article by Juri Lotman from the third volume of Trudy po znakovym sistemam (Sign Systems Studies) in 1967, deals with the problem of artistic modelling. The general working questions are whether art displays any characteristic traits that are common for all modelling systems and which could be the specific traits that can distinguish art from other modelling systems. Art is seen as a secondary modelling system, more precisely, as a play-type model, which is characterised simultaneously by practical and conventional behaviour and constant awareness of the possibility of alternate meanings to the one that is currently being perceived. At the same time art has play-like elements but is not the same as play, since play is inherently rule-bound, whereas art is a more flexible model thepurpose of which is truth. Art is a special type of modelling system, since it is on one hand suitable for storing very large amount of complex information, but onthe other hand it can increase the stored information and transform the consumer.
264. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2/4
Andreas Ventsel Hegemonic signification from cultural semiotics point of view
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This paper attempts to integrate discourse theories, mainly the theory of hegemony by Essex School, and Tartu–Moscow School’s cultural semiotics, andsets for itself the modest task to point to the applicability of semiotic approach in political analysis. The so-called post-foundationalist view, that is common for discourse theories, is primarily characterized by the rejection of essentialist notions of ground for the social, and the inauguration of cultural and discursive characteristics (such as asymmetry and entropy; explosion; antagonism; insurmountable tension between organization and disorganization, regularity and irregularity, etc.) into the wider social scientific paradigm. Customarily, those characteristics have been attributed to contingent or peripheral events and phenomena that by nature do not belong to the social structure proper. Grounds for such ‘groundless’ contingencies are found in philosophy (Marchart), or for instance from the psychoanalytic notion of affect (Laclau). Many discourse theorists proceed here from Derrida’s position that in the process of signification there is an overabundance of meaning which renders final closure impossible (Howarth; Glynos). However, it seems that despite placing communication at the heart of their conceptions of discourse, the communicative character of constructing power relations remains undertheorized in those conceptions. This article attempts to approach the above mentioned problem by way of the concepts of communication and autocommunication (Lotman). The outcomes stemming from the latter are unavoidable, since the result of any possible research (text) itself belongs to culture or a larger discourse and opera tes as the organizing function of the latter. Hence, research practice and its results always need to be looked at as mutually affecting each other.
265. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Ritva Hartama-Heinonen Semiotico-translation-theoretical reverberations revisited
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This article examines translating and translations primarily from a sem(e)iotic viewpoint. The focus is, on the one hand, on a semiotic re-reading of certain translation-theoretical suggestions (such as the idea of translation being an inherently semiotic category), and on the other hand, on a translation-theoretical re-reading of certain semiotic suggestions (such as what signs can be used for representing). Other proposals that receive a revisiting discussion include, for instance, Roman Jakobson’s translation typology and Umberto Eco’s notion of semiotics as a theory of the lie. The approach adopted in the present article advocates a serious re-reading and attitude, but even more, a literal reading and sometimes, a less serious attitude as well.
266. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Maria-Kristiina Lotman Equiprosodic translation method in Estonian poetry
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Equimetrical translation of verse, which conveys the metre of the source text, should be distinguished from equiprosodic translation of verse, which conveys theversification system of the source text. Equiprosodic translation of verse can rely on the possibilities of natural language (for instance, when presumably Publius Baebius Italicus created the Ilias Latina, he made use of the quantitative structure in Latin), but it can also employ an artificial system (cf., for example, the quantitative verse in Church Slavonic or English). The Estonian language makes it possible to convey the syllabic (based on the number of syllables), accentual (based on the number and configuration of accents) and quantitative (based on the configuration of durations) versification systems. In practice, combined types are most frequent, for instance, the ones in which both the syllable count and the configuration of accents is relevant; in Estonian, versification systems with theparticipation of all three principles are possible as well. Despite the contrast of quantity in Estonian, the transmission of the quantitative structure of ancient metrics still involves a number of difficulties which result from differences in the prosodic structures. The transmission of purely syllabic versification system has also been problematic: it is hard to perceive such structure as verse in Estonian and therefore it has often been conveyed with the help of different syllabic-accentual or accentual-syllabic verse metres. Although equiprosodic translation is not necessarily equimetrical, in actual translation practice it usually is so.
267. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Terje Loogus Culture-related decision conflicts in cross-cultural translation
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Translators as members of a certain culture, generally that of the target culture, base their translation-relevant decisions on their own culture, while the decisions are motivated by the (alien) source culture. In the translation process, cultural differences may lead to various decision-making conflicts and the translator has to find a compromise between the author of the source text, the target recipient and finally, of course, the translator him/herself. In this article, proceeding from functionalist approaches to translation, the discussion focuses on the decision conflicts related to translating culturespecific elements. Culture-related decision conflicts, as considered here, refer to the translator’s inner indecision with reference to his/her goals, interests, values, beliefs, methodological approach, or any consequences thereof, attributable to the different cultural embeddings of the source text and the target text. In general, decision conflicts are perceived as subjective translation problems. The translator has to be able to constantly act between separate perspectives, continuously see things from different viewpoints. The conflicts arise when the translator attempts to bring together two incongruent cultures without prejudice to any of the parties involved in the process. Acting within the interface of two different cultures, bearing in mind the interests of several participants, is what makes translation-relevant decisions a highly complex matter.
268. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Ileana Almeida, Julieta Haidar Mythopoetical model and logic of the concrete in Quechua culture: Cultural and transcultural translation problems
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This article deals mainly with problems of cultural/transcultural translation between the Quechua and Spanish cultures, analysing these on the basis of some ideas by Juri Lotman and Peeter Torop. The process of translation implies considering the Quechua semiosphere’s internal borders as well as the external borders related to the cultures that existed at the time of Tahuantin Suyo, and all changes that have come from the Spanish conquest of Latin America. In the case of the Quechua culture, the problems are numerous and conflicting in several dimensions. First of all, Quechua is an agglutinating language that creates problems for translation into a flexional language such as Spanish. Secondly, and more importantly, there exists a mythopoetical model of the world that has been built in this culture, which does not use concepts of rational logic, but poetic images integrated into mythical thinking: it represents a different cognitive pattern. Thirdly, the presence of the logic of the concrete in Quechua culture, articulated with the mythopoetical model, makes translation from Western abstract formal logic difficult. Reflections on these issues provide new analytical possibilities.
269. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Daniele Monticelli Challenging identity: Lotman’s “translation of the untranslatable” and Derrida’s différance
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The concept of “cultural identity” has gradually replaced such discredited concepts as “race”, “ethnicity”, even “nationality” in the conservative political discourse of recent decades which conceives, represents and performs culture as a closed system with clear-cut boundaries which must be defended from contamination.The article employs the theories of Derrida and Lotman as useful tools for deconstructing this understanding of cultural identity, which has recently become anideological justification for socio-political conflicts. In fact, their theories spring from a thorough critique of the kind of internalizing self-enclosure which allowed Saussure to delimit and describe langue as the object of linguistics. The article identifies and compares the elements of this critique, focusing on Derrida’s and Lotman’s concepts of “mirror structure”, “binarism”, “numerousness”, “textuality” and “semiosphere”.An understanding of mediation emerges which is not reducible to any kind of definitive acquisition, thereby frustrating the pretences of identity, constantly dislocating and deferring any attempt at semiotic self-enclosure. My comparison suggests that Lotman’s “translation of the untranslatable” (or “dialogue”) and Derrida’s differance can be considered analogous descriptions of this problematic kind of mediation. The (de)constructive nature of culture, as described by Lotman and Derrida, challenges any attempt to view cultural formations as sources of rigid and irreducible identities or differences.
270. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Ekaterina Velmezova The history of humanities as reflected in the evolution of K. Vaginov’s novels
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In the late 1920s – early 1930s, the Russian poet and novelist Konstantin Vaginov (1899–1934) wrote four novels which reproduce various discourses pertainingto the Russian humanities (philosophy, psychology, linguistics, study of literature) of that time. Trying to go back to the source of the corresponding theories and “hidden” quotations by identifying their authors allows us to include Vaginov’s prose in the general intellectual context of his epoch. Analysing Vaginov’s prose in the light of the history of ideas enables us to understand how a number of philological and philosophical trends were interpreted by particular groups of Soviet intellectuals (for instance, writers and poets who were Vaginov’s contemporaries). Besides, it allows us to propose a new interpretation of Vaginov’s novels and their evolution which corresponds to his perception of humanities around him: their many tendencies and peculiarities become unacceptable for the writer in the 1930s.
271. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Aare Pilv Theses about the poietic principle of metonymy
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The paper observes the relation of fictional/figural discourses to language-games that are active in reality. The starting point for the discussion is the “theory of two contexts” by Arne Merilai, the basic idea of which is distinguishing between fictional and factual speech acts on the basis of their different contexts of truth value. It seems to be justified to expand it to the whole sphere of figurality. After that the paper views John Gibson’s Wittgensteinian theory of fiction as an archive of standards/etalons of language-games and a laboratory of reshaping and creating these standards. The fictional/figural sphere can be described as the area of possibility that creates language-games of reality via poiesis. The article describes some cases where the logic of figural sphere is introduced directly into real political discourse, forcing the reality to act according to the rules of art, but thus excluding the ethical freedom of our real-life language-games. It means that there exists a certain principle of metonymy between the figural sphere as archive and laboratory of standards, on the one hand, and the language-games of reality, on the other hand, while violation of that principle involves a danger of losing the reconciliatory power of fictionality/figurality that, according to Jaak Tomberg, is a significant function of literature as a human practice. There are several possibilities for further analysis: the cases where the danger can be turned into something positive; the problems and gains of art forms (certain forms of the theatre, happenings) that use techniques of intrusion into reality; the questionif such violation of the “principle of metonymy” is specifically connected with modernist avant-gardism or not.
272. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Dinda Gorlée Goethe’s glosses to translation
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The logical and illogical unity of translation with a triadic approach was mediated by Peirce’s three-way semiotics of sign, object, and interpretant. Semio-translation creates a dynamic network of Peircean interpretants, which deal with artificial but alive signs progressively growing from undetermined (“bad”) versions to higher determined (“good”) translations. The three-way forms of translation were mentioned by Goethe. He imitated the old Persian poetry of Hafiz (14th Century) to compose his German paraphrase of West-östlicher Divan (1814–1819). To justify the liberties of his own translation/paraphrase, Goethe furnished notes in Noten und Abhandlungen and Paralipomena (1818–1819). Through his critical glosses, he explained information, adaptation, and reproduction of the foreign culture and literature (old Persian written in Arabic script) to become transplanted into the “equivalent” in German 19th Century verse. As critical patron of translation and cultural agent, Goethe’s Divan notes are a parody mixing Orient and Occident. He built a (lack of) likeness, pointing in the pseudo-semiosis of translation to first and second degenerate types of object and sign.
273. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Anneli Mihkelev The image of neighbours: Latvian and Lithuanian literature in Estonia
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The translated text has a specific value in the new culture: it can be a translation of a literary text, and it can be a translation of culture, i.e. a synchronic text of a cultural system. There are two principal concepts which are used in the present article: ‘translation’ and ‘reception’. Reception begins with the selection of the author, literary or historical epoch, literary style, or ideology. So, every translation and reception begins with reading, and every reading creates meanings. At the same time, reception is also translation: it is a moment when two distinct cultures mix, and this situation needs understanding of the other. The translated texts create the image of the translated culture and/or nation. The article examines texts from Latvian and Lithuanian literatures from the second half of the 18th century to the early 20th century which have been translated into Estonian: what kind of texts are translated in different periods and by different translators (the selection of the authors and the texts); what the purpose of the translations is; how these translations translate Latvian or Lithuanian culture into Estonian; and how Estonians understand and accept these translated texts. And, finally, how these translated texts create the image of the translated culture and/or nation.
274. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Elin Sütiste Preface. On the paths of translation semiotics with Peeter Torop
275. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Harri Veivo The city as a mediating device and as a symbol in Finnish poetry of the 1960s
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In Finnish poetry of the 1960s, the city, and above all the capital Helsinki, is the scene where the metamorphosis of Finland from an agrarian into an urban society is staged, analysed and commented. It is also a symbol that serves to situate the country in the global context, with all the contradictions that were characteristic of the position of Finland in the cold war system. Writing about the city was a means to reflect on the transformations of social and political reality and of the physical environment, a means to represent the confusion these transformations produced or to work towards understanding them. The article analyses the city in texts belonging to the “new poetry” of the 1960s, as well as in texts representing the modernist poetics of the 1950s, arguing that the very co-existence of two contrasting poetic discourses was crucial for the semiotic development of Finnish culture in the period of time in question.
276. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Katalin Kroó The cultural mediational dynamics of literary intertexts: An approach to the problem of generative and transformational dynamics
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The paper raises the theoretical question of the cultural mediational nature of literary intertexts from the point of view of generic and transformational dynamics. The intertextual complex as mediational operator is examined at two levels – (1) in the context of cultural diachrony by observing how the literary work establishes its place in the history of literature closely connected to the metapoiesis of the text; (2) at various kinds of intratextual interlevel movements regulating the evolution of a whole intertextual system within the work. Differentiating the ontological, generative and transformational conceptualization of intertextual poetics, an attempt is made to define the basic textual modes of the pretext, the intext and the intertext by describing their functionality in the building of an intersemiotic literary system. The relevant functions are grasped by shedding light upon the types of the sign of which the given signifying structures consist (here a terminological clarification and re-evaluation are added) and their textual semantics in terms of referential and relational quality (cf. the different versions of referential and relational semantics). In the first place, however, the paper aims at outlining the structure and content of the generic-transformational semiotic processes in which the dynamic aspects of intertextual semiosis are revealed. Within this framework, the processuality of the development of the intertextual signifying structure iselucidated, shown as a chain of reciprocal sign activities resulting in constantly evolving semantic shifts within the intra- and intertextual semiosis processes, all relying on mediational operations. Text examples are taken from and references made to works by A. S. Pushkin, I. S. Turgenev, F. M. Dostoevsky and J. M. Coetzee.
277. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Winfried Nöth Translation and semiotic mediation
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Translation, according to Charles S. Peirce, is semiotic mediation. In sign processes in general, the sign mediates between the object, which it represents, and its interpretant, the idea it evokes, the interpretation it creates, or the action it causes. To what extent does the way a translator mediates correspond to what a sign does in semiosis? The paper inquires into the parallels between the agency of the sign in semiosis and the agency of the interpreter (and translator) in translation. It argues that some of the limits and limitations of translatability are also the limits of the sign in semiosis. Since genuine icons and genuine indices do not convey meaning they are strictly speaking also untranslatable. Nevertheless, icons and indices also serve as mediators in learning how to translate.
278. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Peeter Torop Semiotics of mediation
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Semiotics of mediation is based on comparative analysis of mediation processes, on typology of forms of mediation and on the subsequent complementary analysis of culture. Not only does cultural analysis that is based on semiotics of mediation proceed from communication processes, it also searches for possibilities of correlation between concepts of describability, analysability, translatability. Depending on the strategy of mediation semiotics it is possible to create an overview of the main parameters of cultural analysis and to specify the boundaries of semiotic analysis of culture. The main types of mediation are simultaneously parameters of cultural analysis. The main types include autocommunicative mediation, metalingual mediation, intertextual mediation, interdiscursive mediation, and inter- or transmedial mediation. Typology of mediation types facilitates the understanding of the autocommunicative aspect of culture and creates the basis for analysing communication processes not on the level of the immediate sender and receiver but as part of the culture’s communication with itself. Semiotics of mediation starts from semiotic mediation and ends with a culture of mediation in which one and the same cultural language or text operates as a means of dialogue with itself, as a means of communication with others, as part of some textual system or discourse, or as a transmedial phenomenon. Semiotics of mediation is a means of studying the correlation between implicit semiotic mediation and forms of explicit semiotic mediation, thus complementing cultural semiotic study of culture.
279. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 40 > Issue: 3/4
Tomi Huttunen On the semiotic description of autogenesis in culture
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The article is devoted to the notion of autogenesis and mechanism of unpredictable emergence in culture. The notion is treated in the context of the semiotics ofculture and the theory of semiosphere. The examples are drawn mainly from Russian avant-garde culture.
280. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 41 > Issue: 1
Jean-Claude Gens Uexküll’s Kompositionslehre and Leopold’s “land ethic” in dialogue. On the concept of meaning
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Uexkull’s famous umwelt theory, which is simultaneously a theory of meaning, remains almost unknown in American environmental thought. Thepurpose of this article is to create a dialogue between the umwelt theory – a source of inspiration for biosemiotics – and one of the major figures of the environmental thought, namely Aldo Leopold. The interest of this dialogue lies in the fact that the environmental thought has much to gain by relying on Uexkull’s theory of meaning and, conversely, that Leopold’s land ethic is likely to extend Uexkull’s thought in terms of ethics.