Translation and semiotic mediation


  • Winfried Nöth University of Kassel and PUC São Paulo



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.


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How to Cite

Nöth, W. (2012). Translation and semiotic mediation. Sign Systems Studies, 40(3/4), 279–298.