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81. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Peeter Torop Translation as translating as culture
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The most common difficulty in translation studies has traditionally been the dilemma between the historical and synchronic approaches in the analysis and description of the culture of translation. On the one hand the culture of translation might be presented as the sum of various kinds of translated texts (repertoire of culture), on the other hand it might be described as the hierarchy of the various types of translations themselves. The first approach assumes plenty of languages for such description, in the latter one suggests only one language for the same representation. A cultural critic faces the same problems. In these perspectives the translation reveals important mechanisms of the performance of culture. First of all it is the semiotic interpretation of the theory of translation, introduced by the number of scientists beginning with R. Jakobson and including U. Eco who put together interlinguistic, intra-linguistic, and inter-semiotic translations, so crucial for the further understanding of culture. As a result, the general notion of culture might be described as the process of total translation. And secondly, the othervaluable contribution to the theory of translation has been made by both M. Bakhtin and J. Lotman in terms of the synthesis of two traditions in semiotics of culture resulted in juxtaposing such notions as dialogism and autonomy — creolization, polyphony, counterword, and translation.
82. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Marina Grishakova Towards the semiotics of the observer
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The problem of the observer and point of view is examined within the broad semiological and cognitive perspective. Structuralist narratology made an attempt of a formal-linguistic classification of points of view to avoid anthropomorphic-visual connotations inherent in narratological terminology. The alternative opportunity would be the usage of terms-metaphors as theoretical models. From the point of view of the observer, the process of text generation evolves in the double space of perception/conception and interpretation. Instead of comparing different media in terms of the privileged metalanguage, it would be more fruitful to base the comparison upon their immanent cognitive characteristics.
83. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Julia Kristeva Thinking about literary thought
84. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Marcello Barbieri Organic codes: Metaphors or realities?
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Coding characteristics have been discovered not only in protein synthesis, but also in various other natural processes, thus showing that the genetic code is not an isolated case in the organic world. Other examples are the sequence codes, the adhesion code, the signal transduction codes, the splicing codes, the sugar code, the histone code, and probably more. These discoveries however have not had a significant impact because of the widespread belief that organic codes are not real but metaphorical entities. They are supposed to lack arbitrariness and codemakers, the two qualifying features of real codes. Here it is shown that the arbitrariness issue can be solved on an experimental basis, while the codemaker issue is dependent on our theoretical description of the cell and can only be solved by a new concept. In order to appreciate the reality of the organic codes, in short, it is necessary to have not only a more critical evaluation of the experimental data but also a new theory of the living system.
85. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Kestutis Nastopka Two approaches to the myth of city foundations: Syntagmatic and paradigmatic
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The paper discusses the myth of the founding of Vilnius as an example of a myth of city foundation. The myth has received two independent semiotic interpretations. Narrative grammar procedures are applied to the analysis of the mythical story and the semantic code generating the story in the paper “Gediminas’ Dream (Lithuanian myth of city foundation: an attempt at analysis)” by Algirdas Julien Greimas (1971). The sovereignty ideology expressed in the myth, which describes religious and spiritual culture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, is linked to the tri-functional model of the Indo-European social structure. The semantics of the Vilnius myth is seen as analogous with such Indo-European myths as king’s accession to the throne and creation of a city-state. The Lithuanian myth of Vilnius is linked paradigmatically to the Indo-European mythology in the study “Vilnius, Wilno, Vil’na: City and myth” by Vladimir Toporov (1980). At the level of the signifier, phonological equivalents of toponyms of Vilnius are traced. At the level of the signified, transformations of the “core” Indo-European myth are identified. The myth of the city foundation can be read both as a figurative form of cultural expression and as an ideology narrated as a plot of a story. In this view, the paradigmatic and syntagmatic approaches complement each other.
86. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Thomas G. Winner How did the ideas of Juri Lotman reach the West?
87. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Peet Lepik On universalism in connection with the interpretation of magic in the semiotics of Juri Lotman
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The article examines the first phase of the universalistic interpretations in Juri Lotman’s semiotics, which is characterized by holism and maximalism derived from the Saussurean cultural concept. There is an analysis of Juri Lotman’s 1967 lecture, previously unpublished, where universal status is accorded to text functions (including magic functions). Such an approach is a substantial revision of the Saussurean understandings of the relationship between language and speech. This interpretation of magic is compared with the examination of the same concept in Juri Lotman’s 1981 article “Contract and self-sacrifice as archetypical cultural models”, which substantially contradicts the concept developed in his 1967 lecture. Both these magic models produce a number of objections, and apparently seem to bear the deforming traces of their respective universalistic theoretical schema.
88. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Linnar Priimägi Pure visual metaphor: Juri Lotman’s concept of rhetoric in fine arts
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Salvador Dalí’s oilpainting Hallucination partielle. Six apparitions de Lénine sur un piano (1931) has been considered to be one of the most difficult works to interpret. O. Zaslavskii has analyzed it, using the sound of the words in title and the items depicted on the masterpiece, “the phonetic subtext”. Obviously, Zaslavskii’s interpretation is based on Osip Mandelstam’s poem “Grand piano” (1931), that in the context of Russian language associates the piano ( ) with the French Revolution. Nevertheless, Zaslavskii’s final conclusion of the connections between Dalí’s painting and the French Revolution turns to be accurate, because it is possible to find iconographic parallels between Dalí’s “Partial hallucination…” and Jacques-Louis David’s “The death of Marat” (1793). On at least four most significant oil paintings from the beginning of Dalí’s surreal period we can observe his “emblem of love and death” as the combination of fellatio and bleeding. Obviously, he understood in the same code also Marat’s murdering by the knife of a woman. This allows us to insist, that Dalí was inspired to paint“Partial hallucination…” by “The death of Marat”. The shadow of a grand piano on his painting “Diurnal illusion: the shadow of a grand piano approaching” (1931) directly bears the meaning of “terror” and “fear”. In such motif combination and graphic parallel, the complex cultural metaphoric relations of these two paintings can be viewed. This complex can be considered as rhetorical in the sense of Juri Lotman’s conception. But it is evidently a case of “pure visual metaphor”, not an illustration of verbal metaphors.
89. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Bruno Osimo On psychological aspects of translation
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Translation science is going through a preliminary stage of self-definition. Jakobson’s essay “On linguistic aspects of translation”, whose title is re-echoed in the title of this article, despite the linguistic approach suggested, opened, in 1959, the study of translation to disciplines other than linguistics, semiotics to start with. Many developments in the semiotics of translation — particularly Torop’s theory of total translation — take their cue from the celebrated category “intersemiotic translation or transmutation” outlined in that 1959 article. I intend to outline here the contributions that the science of translation — following a semiotic perspective opened by Peirce and continued by Torop — can gather from another discipline: psychology. The “totalistic” approach to translation provided by Torop can be more deeply enforced by applying to it the consequences deriving from the psychological insight offered by the concept of “interpretant” as mental sign; the perceptual interpretation of the prototext; reading and writing as intersemiotic translation processes; unlimited semiosis as interminable analysis; primary and secondary process in dreams and in other kinds of translation; metaphor and disambiguation as mental processes; the defenses activated when translation criticism (review) and self-criticism (revision) are made.
90. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Maija Könönen ‘Infernal’ subtexts in Brodsky’s poem The fifth anniversary
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This essay explores the intertextual relationships of Joseph Brodsky’s poem — an occasional verse dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the poet’s enforced emigration from the Soviet Union. As is common in Brodsky’s poetics, the text is imbued with allusions to other texts, not only from Russian, but from Western belles lettres, as well. Through reminiscences of La Divina Commedia the lost homeland together with the beloved native city of Leningrad is paralleled with Dante’s “lost and accursed” Florence as well as with the lost St.Petersburg of Mandelshtam and Akhmatova, among others. The Dantean undertones are exposed not only on the semantical level of the examined text but in the metrical and structural aspects of the poem, as well.
91. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Mihhail Lotman Atomistic versus holistic semiotics
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The paper is devoted on the foundations of semiotics. It examines the specific features of Peircean and Saussurean traditions and demonstrates that the basis of all the differences is the different conception of the nature of sign: Peirce proceeds from the substitutive concept, Saussure from the bilateral one. The substitutive construction is atomistic by its nature: it is based on a (single) sign which replaces a (single) object, while bilateral is holistic: it is based on the sign system which is divided into (single) signs. The differences of semiosis in atomistic and holistic approach will be pointed out.
92. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Irene Portis-Winner Eric Wolf: the crosser of boundaries
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The subject of this paper is an introduction to my assessment of the work of the late American anthropologist, Eric Wolf (1923–1999), whom I consider to be one of the greatest American anthropologist. I plan a monograph on his total work from a point of view, largely overlooked, emphasizing his sensitive, path-breaking, and poetic insights. I see Wolf’s work as having three interpenetrating periods, which I call (1) Eric Wolf, the poet, focusing primarily on his work on Mexico, (2) the study of peasantry world-wide, emphasizing history, context, power, etc. (from the very beginning Wolf demolished the idea of static isolated cultures that anthropologists so loved to study; and in this respect, Eric Wolf changed anthropology forever), and (3) the third period, reaching to his death and never really finished, was Wolf the philosopher and crosser of boundaries.
93. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Leonid Tchertov Spatial semiosis in culture
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Lotman’s conception of semiosphere opens the way to development of spatial semiotics as a special branch of sign theory. There are a lot of peculiarities in the spatial semiosis, which distinguish it from the temporal ones. These distinctions are connected with some special features of semiotized space, and they touch both upon the spatial texts and upon the spatial codes. The spatial syntax has its own specific structures, which can be reversed, non-linear and continual, created without discrete signs. The differentiation relates also to semantics of spatial signs and texts, which are mainly motivated by their denotates due to similarity or contiguity. There are some pragmatic peculiarities of the spatial semiosis: the greater connection with the praxis, on the one hand, and the greater ability for the preservation of the cultural memory, on the other hand. The mainly visual character of spatial texts in plane of expression can be also considered as its specific pragmatic property. These peculiarities give some special possibilities for the spatial semiosis and make necessary its participation in the various spheres of the culture, where diverse spatial codes interact in different ways between each other and with temporal codes as well.
94. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Andreas Schönle Lotman and cultural studies: The case for cross-fertilization
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This paper seeks to evaluate the extent to which Lotman’s theoretical works could provide a conceptual articulation to the project of British and American cultural studies (CS). Just as CS, Lotman operates with an extensive concept of culture, albeit one mostly limited to nobility culture and focused on the past. His late works can be seen to articulate a semiotic theory of power: his emphasis on the relationship between center and periphery recalls the infatuation with marginality that underpins CS. Lotman shares the (post) structuralist premise about the primary role of discourse in founding reality. Yet his emphasis on the natural striving of culture toward diversity mitigates the subject’s dependence upon discourse. Thus, subjects act on their striving toward autonomy by playing discourses against one another, recoding them in an act of autocommunication that generates novelty in the process. Even though it denies the grand narrative, Cultural Studies emphasizes class, gender, and race differences. Lotman’s concept of the semiosphere emphasizes the ad hoc foundation of group identities, their emergence out of an intrinsic recoding of extrinsic codes, and the circulation of texts and values among groups. Lotman doesn’t privilege any sort of group identity and therefore offers a flexible framework applicable to a broader range of groups. In that sense he offers an alternative to Gramsci’s notion of the rootedness of groups in class realities (which underlies early CS).
95. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Elize Bisanz The abstract structure of the aesthetic sign
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Walter Benjamin foreshadowed many of the aesthetic theories, currently playing a fundamental role in the production and interpretation of art. By emphasising the role of the expressive character of art, or rather the category of expressivity itself, Benjamin defined art as a language. His aesthetics was characterised by the continuous interaction of two almost reciprocal projects: the theoretical critique of art which is based on an understanding of historical processes, and the understanding of historical processes which is formed by the critical experience of art. We find a fundamental similarity between Benjamin’s dialectical character of the aesthetic sign and Lotman’s double-sidedness of the artwork. In classifying the system of art as a language, both theoreticians space out the structure ofart and determine it as the intersection of the synchronic and the diachronic aesthetic discourse. The paper follows the traces of the transition of modern painting from its representational status to an autonomous signification, that is, from being a symbolic expression to a discourse in the grammatological meaning of écriture. Parallel to this transition which resulted into the process of abstraction in painting, there can be observed a shift in the cultural values of art which had its critical bearing upon the world secured not by connections of likeness, but by virtue of the very independence of its values. The abstract form of the modern painting has been the declaration of the language of art as an exemplary realm. What must be expressed and experienced within this realm was (1) the critical reflection on the human condition, and (2) representing the society in so far as art maintained a moral independence from those conditions. This dialectic between the autonomous and social character of art has left deep impacts on the language of painting, a complexity, which has been made transparent through the various semiotic analytic approaches of the aesthetic sign. The paper discusses the processual character of the modern painting and demonstrates briefly the deficiency in the structural analysis of the painting language, encouraging its synthesis with the dynamical character of cultural products as we find it in the Lotmanian culture theory.
96. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Kati Lindström Author, landscape and communication in Estonian haiku
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Present article tries to give insight into the ways in which Estonian haiku models its author and communicates with the reader. The author thinks that while Japanese haiku is a predominantly autocommunicative piece of literature, where even a fixed point of view is not recommended, Estonian literary conventions are oriented towards openly communicational texts, which convey a fixed axiology and rely on abundant use of pronouns and rhetorical questions, addresses and apostrophes. While there is a considerable amount of Estonian haiku that depend on Estonian literary conventions, most of the Estonian haiku texts, however, are oriented to the Japanese model. These texts have been labelled “the catalogues of landscape”, as they are constituted by naming different landscape objects without developing a line of narration. Thereby every landscape element in poetry is granted its own voice, and through this multitude of voices inside the text, the reader is forced to enter an autocommunicative process of remodelling him/herself.
97. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Ülle Pärli, Eleonora Rudakovskaja Juri Lotman on proper name
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The article treats the concept of proper name in Juri Lotman’s semiotics, taking into account also studies in the same field by other authors of the Tartu-Moscow school (V. Ivanov, B. Ogibenin, V. Toporov, B. Uspenski). Focus is laid at three sub-topics: name and myth, name and text, name and artistic creation. One of the sources of treating proper name for both the program article by J. Lotman and B. Uspenski (“Myth — Name — Culture”), and works by several other semioticians of the Tartu–Moscow school is confidence in the connection between proper name and mythical (a-semiotic) thought: semiosis equals here with nomination. Proper name plurality, different re-namings affirm the continuing importance of mythical thinking in later culture. Proper names (such as personal names, place names) belong, in addition to natural language, also into a certain individual system, forming thus an interlinguistic layer located on the boundary of language. J. Lotmanstresses that art has a specific power of uniting general and proper name (proper name characterized here by individuality, explosiveness). An artistic work is even doubly of proper name character: both the act of creation and its reception are by nature individual and unrepeated. In the opinion of the authors the treatment of proper name by the Tartu-Moscow school contains fruitful and promising standpoints for the analysis of contemporary culture that, however, have been applied unjustifiably little.
98. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Sadeq Rahimi Is cultural logic an appropriate concept? A semiotic perspective on the study of culture and logic
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It is argued that (a) the question of ‘cultural logic’ is a valid inquiry for disciplines seeking to comprehend and compare mental processes across cultures, and (b) semiotics, as the science of studying signs and signification, is an appropriate means of approaching the question of cultural logic. It is suggested that a shift needs to be made in studying reasoning across cultures from the traditional value-oriented methods of judgment to a meaning-oriented assessment. Traditional methods of cross-cultural comparison are suggested to be flawed in their attempt to develop a psychological account of why different cultural societies can draw different conclusions from ‘similar’ data, because they typically do not take into account the culturally-specific processes of ‘meaning’ and semiosis. These processes, it is argued, cause input data to develop differentially from one semiotic context to another. In other words, before reaching the cognitive processing level data is already shaped by the semiotic context, thus what is processed cognitively by two individuals in two cultural/semiotic contexts is no longer ‘the same.’ A semiotically conceived notion of cultural logic is therefore a crucial factor in any cross-cultural study of cognitive and psychological systems.
99. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Peeter Torop Introduction: Re-reading of cultural semiotics
100. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Stefano Garzonio Mechanisms of adaptation “to our (Russian) customs” of Italian opera librettos
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Stefano Garzonio. Mechanisms of adaptation “to our (Russian) customs” of Italian opera librettos. The paper deals with the history of poetical translation of Italian musical poetry in the 18th century Russia. In particular, it is focused on the question of pereloženie na russkie nravy, the adaptation to national Russian customs, of Italian opera librettos, cantatas, arias, songs and so on. The author points out three different phases of this process. The first phase, in the 1730s, coincides with the reign of Anna Ioannovna and it is linked to Trediakovsky’s translations of Italian intermezzos, comedies and to the first opera seria, La forza dell’amore e dell’odio (‘The force of love and hate’, 1736) by F. Araja and F. Prata; the second phase, in the period 1740–1770s, is characterized by a very varied production of translations and imitations, which undoubtedly influenced the general developing of Russian musical and dramatic poetry. It is during this periodthat pereloženie na russkie nravy is introduced into dramatic genres and sometimes it is findable in musical poetry as well. The third phase, in the 1780–1790s, is linked with the activity of such poets-translators as Ivan Dmitrevskij, Michail Popov, Vasilij Levšin and is characterized by the new practice of performing operas in Russian translations. In the paper the different forms of pereloženie na russkie nravy are pointed out, starting from the formal niveau of metrics and stylistics up to the adaptation of themes, places and realia.