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1. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Kristian Tylen, Luis Emilio Bruni Sign evolution on multiple time scales. Introductory comments
2. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Winfried Noth The growth of signs
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The paper discusses the theory of semiosis in the context of Peirce’s philosophy of evolution. Focussing on the thesis that symbols grow by incorporating indices and icons, it proposes answers to the following questions: What does Peirce mean by the “self-development of signs” in nature and culture and by symbols as livingthings? How do signs grow? Do all signs grow, or do only symbols grow? Does the growth of signs presuppose semiotic agency, and if so, who are the agents in semiosis when signs and sign systems grow? The paper discusses objections raised by culturalists and historical linguists against the assumption that signs can still grow and are still growing in complex cultures, and it draws parallels and points out differences between Peirce’s theory of semiotic growth and the theories of memetics and teleosemiotics.
3. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Joel Parthemore Conceptual change and development on multiple time scales: From incremental evolution to origins
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In the context of the relationship between signs and concepts, this paper tackles some of the ongoing controversies over conceptual development andchange – including the claim by some that concepts are not open to revision at all – taking the position that concepts pull apart from language and that concepts can be discussed on at least four levels: that of individual agent, community, society, and language. More controversially, it claims that concepts are not just inherently open to revision but that they, and the frameworks of which they form part, are in a state of continuous, if generally incremental, change: a position that derives directly from the enactive tradition in philosophy. Concepts, to be effective as concepts, must strike a careful balance between being stable enough to apply across suitably many contexts and flexible enough to adapt to each new context. The paper’s contribution is a comparison and contrast of conceptual development and change on four time scales: that of the day-to-day life of an individual conceptual agent, the day-to-day life of society, the lifetime of an individual agent, and the lifetime of society and the human species itself. It concludes that the relationship between concepts and experience (individual or collective) is one of circular and not linear causality.
4. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Vytautas Tumėnas The textuality of diagonal ornamentation: Historical transformations of signifi cation from the Baltic perspective
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This paper deals with textual aspects of the geometric diagonal linear ornamentation that appears on traditional woven Lithuanian bands. Taking into consideration diachronic, local as well as universal perspectives, it aims to determine and classify the basic elements of the ornament that relate to the development of textuality. Previous investigations of Baltic and Lithuanian textile ornaments have been based on a purely geometric analysis of ornamental form, or on creating linguistic inventories of folk pattern denominations. This paper describes a unique, elaborated, interdisciplinary method for studying such ornaments based on historical-typological comparative analyses, the classification of patterns with regard to their form and meaning, and the semiotic interpretation of mythopoetic images of patterns names. Further, the paper discusses whether an authentic folk classification and a tradition of typology based on the forms of patterns and names can be detected. From the traditional point of view the main meaning-carrying element of this ornamentation is the type of pattern. Therefore, reconstructions and interpretations of the semantic field of patterns’ signification may be based on the mythopoetic context of folk culture.
5. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Joel Parthemore Mõistete muutumine ja areng mitmetel ajaskaaladel: järk-järgulisest evolutsioonist päritoluni
6. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Marilyn Mitchell Fitting issues: The visual representation of time in family tree diagrams
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Family tree diagrams are a specific type of visual representation of time that serve a range of purposes. This research considers their semiosic developmentacross western cultures using cases from the earliest extant copies of the eighth century to current online versions. Cases are taken from the fields of religion, genealogy, history, anthropology, genetics, and popular culture. The paper begins with a general model of tree design based upon the linguistic representation of time, or tense, and then discusses in case study fashion, how each design was composed to support its use. Composition is discussed using the visual variables of the direction of time on the page, the key reference point, scale, alphanumeric and pictorial symbols, symbol positions, and the size, colour, tone, and texture of symbols and graphic elements. The paper argues that choices for the direction of time flow in a tree (e.g. left-to-right, right-to-left, top-down, etc.) depend upon many factors, which are the use of the diagram, the amount of information that needs to fit onto the page, patterns of reading and writing, aesthetic needs, the linguistic metaphor of descent, cultural values, and the “ideal-real” continuum that exists along the vertical axis for some types of graphics.
7. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Morten Tønnessen The ontogeny of the embryonic, foetal and infant human umwelt
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This article, which envelops a case study and development of umwelt theory, addresses four research questions: At what point does the human umweltemerge? What umwelt transitions can be identified in the ontogenesis of the early human umwelt? What is characteristic of the umwelt trajectory of human embryos/foetuses/infants? How are umwelt objects established/crystallized/fixated in the human umwelt?The early human umwelt is characterized by rapid change, radical transformations, and gradual establishment of the first and most basic umwelt objects by wayof exploration and learning. While the human umwelt arguably emerges already at the embryonic stage, the sense-saturated umwelt emerges at the foetal stage. Unlike an adult human’s umwelt, but like other altricial umwelten, the umwelt of the human foetus and infant is not fully functional from the perspective of the organism itself. In other words, their basic functioning directly depends on others. Our human sociality is further stimulated by shared undertakings early on in our terrestrial lives which effectively make us part of some specific social system.
8. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
María del Rosario Restrepo Boada Graphic design production as a sign
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The article attempts to show that graphic design production works through a particular semiotic process. The performance of a new sign category, the GraphicSign, makes possible the articulation of the iconic, the plastic, and the linguistic signs in case of a specific dialogue that exists between the letters and the images in some graphic design productions. Overhauling theories of Eco, Groupe μ and Klinkenberg, we will be able to understand that Graphic Design generates meaning in a formal dimension, yet it also generates particular cognitive structures. Therefore, understanding this new kind of sign, we can recognize its communicational dimension and the powerful cultural creation platform this Design is, beyond its ability to make things visible and in the best cases clear and beautiful.
9. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Gisela Bruche-Schulz Where semiosis begins when reading a text: On event perception
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In this paper, I report on a set of data which, so I believe, give evidence of current experience as being conceptualized on the basis of conceptual structuresthat originate from different time scales. The data are obtained by a procedure that shows features of think-aloud protocols and eye-tracking research. The text which is read is a narrative, an excerpt from Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince. Five groups of readers, at different times and locations, were presented with the text in five different languages. They underlined the words for which something came to mind and jotted down responses in the margin of the one-page long text ad lib, in a time frame of ten minutes. Their responses, expressed by pictorial and written signs, testify to ways of perceiving elements in scenes and scenarios, in short, elements of the environment with which the readers interact at the moment of reading. When the jotted responses are correlated with the segmental positions in which they occur, regular patterns emerge, revealed by significant differences in response frequencies. The semantic properties of the linguistic material in these segmental positions signal the perceptual presence of (image-)schematic figure-ground relations that inhere in basic event structures. Different layers of semiosis, originating from different time scales, thus appear to simultaneously contribute to current experience, the latter being possible because of the expanded consciousness of the organism that discovered how to turn in on itself.
10. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Luis Emilio Bruni, Sarune Baceviciute On the embedded cognition of non-verbal narratives
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Acknowledging that narratives are an important resource in human communication and cognition, the focus of this article is on the cognitive aspects ofinvolvement with visual and auditory non-verbal narratives, particularly in relation to the newest immersive media and digital interactive representational technologies. We consider three relevant trends in narrative studies that have emerged in the 60 years of cognitive and digital revolution. The issue at hand could have implications for developmental psychology, pedagogics, cognitive science, cognitive psychology, ethology and evolutionary studies of language. In particular, it is of great importance for narratology in relation to interactive media and new representational technologies. Therefore we outline a research agenda for a bio-cognitive semiotic interdisciplinary investigation into how people understand, react to, and interact with narratives that are communicated through non-verbal modalities.
11. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Riin Magnus The role of trust in binding the perspectives of guide dogs and their visually impaired handlers
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Building on anthropological discussions of perspectivism and (zoo)semiotic accounts of sign use by humans and other animals, the article explores the cooperation of a guide dog and its visually impaired handler as contingent on the mutual adjustment of two individual perspectives. A perspective is defined as a point of view which comprises the meanings as well as the forms of objects that the subject perceives and acts upon. On certain occasions, individual perspectives can be alligated to one another, resulting in a transformation of the meaningful worlds of the subjects. Three types of connections between individual perspectives are delineated in the paper, resulting in the formation of mimetic, collaborative and comparative double perspectives. Although all of them bear relevance for the guide dog team’s interactions, the collaborative double perspective is put under further scrutiny. The maintenance of the collaborative double perspective depends on the formation of trust between the two individuals. While investigating the conditions for the establishment of trust, a question is raised as to whether a shared communication system can serve as an ultimate ground for it.
12. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen Applying Peirce in Tallinn and Helsinki
13. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 2/3
Wendy Wheeler The carrying: Material frames and immaterial meanings
14. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
The Editors 50 years of Sign Systems Studies
15. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Alexandros Ph. Lagopoulos, Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou Semiotics, culture and space
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Space, in the environmental sense, holds a rather marginal position in semiotics. We shall try, however, to show in this paper that its importance is greaterthan thought previously, not only because it may establish one of the main sub-fields of semiotic research, but also because it has repercussions on other semiotic systems and even semiotic theory as such. We start by reviewing the main positions of the Theses of the Tartu-Moscow School and compare them to Lotman’s concept of the semiosphere. We conclude that a sociologically sound framework for culture is missing and try to demonstrate that culture is not the only factor composing a society, but there also exists a concept of a material, extra-semiotic society. This framework is systematically developed in relation to geographical space in our second section.We examine the place of space in semiotics according to two different axes of analysis. The first axis, discussed in our third section, corresponds to the semioticsof (geographical) space. We approach this field from two different perspectives. The first perspective is the direct study of urban space as a text, that is, it is focused on space-as-text. Three case studies are discussed, all drawn from pre-capitalist societies: the semiotic urban model in ancient Greece, the Ethiopian military camp and the spatial organization of the traditional Libyan oases. To the second perspective corresponds the semiotic study of the geographical spaces constructed by literary texts, that is, space-in-text. Here, we discuss two case studies: the ideal Platonic city and the medieval Arthurian courtly romances. These analyses are followed by an overview of the semiotics of space in pre-capitalist societies, to which we compare Lotman’s views.The second axis, discussed in our fourth section, concerns the importance of space for semiotic theory. We show that space can serve as a tool for the analysis oftexts from other semiotic systems and focus on the use of space by diff erent spatial metalanguages.
16. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Anton Markoš Biosphere as semiosphere: Variations on Lotman
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The analogy between semiosphere (world of cultures) and biosphere (world of life), coined by J. Lotman, is a courageous attempt to interconnect two seemingly incompatible worlds. In congruence with his view, I would like to convince the reader that the only possible general definition of life is “a system born, endowed with semiosis, with history”. Such a view requires considering biosphere and semiosphere as coextensive, which requires merging the cultural, scientific, historical, and linguistic approaches into a coherent whole.
17. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Charikleia Yoka, Evangelos Kourdis Cultural semiotics, translatability, and informational loss in visual texts of the biotech industry
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The paper examines a specific advertising campaign of a biotech company characteristic of the whole biotech industry and discusses how the evocation ofuniversal values, such as the protection and correct management of the planet’s resources, the struggle against poverty and against the shortage of raw materials, the support of farmers and their families, distorts information about nature, global agriculture and the biotech industry’s products. This distortion is a necessary and vital part of this industry’s existence. The rhetorical techniques of conscious informational repression and distortion, which are often discussed only in terms of informational loss, are expressly evident and even taken to their extremes in the case of biotechnology. Yet on the other hand they are characteristic of a translation process that takes place in the rhetoric of advertisement in general, as is evident in the use of Goran Sonesson’s translation model which we suggest is appropriate for the definition and study of advertising codes.
18. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Kalevi Kull, Ekaterina Velmezova What is the main challenge for contemporary semiotics?
19. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Lei Han Juri Lotman’s autocommunication model and Roland Barthes’s representations of Self and Other
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This paper discusses Juri Lotman’s concept of autocommunication and explores its applicability by referring to Roland Barthes’s representations of Self andOther. The texts to be discussed include Barthes’s writings on Japan and China, an excerpt from his rewriting of Balzac’s “Sarrasine” in S/Z, and his autobiography and Rousseau’s Confessions. The paper contrasts two cultural communication cases in terms of analysing two kinds of a-semantic codes: (1) the positive a-semantic code of Japan, and (2) the negative a-semantic code of China. With reference to “Sarrasine” and S/Z, the paper discusses two specific codes, cultural memory and imagination, which lead to the addressee’s reformulations. Finally, the paper examines how different modes of autocommunication are put into practice in Barthes’s autobiographical and Rousseau’s confessional writings.
20. Sign Systems Studies: Volume > 42 > Issue: 4
Kalevi Kull, Remo Gramigna Juri Lotman in English: Updates to bibliography