Sign Systems Studies <p>An international journal of semiotics and sign processes in culture and living nature.</p> University of Tartu Press en-US Sign Systems Studies 1406-4243 Front Matter Editors Copyright (c) 2024 Editors 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 439 440 The institutional fate of Uexküll’s umwelt theory at the University of Hamburg <p>Due to Jakob von Uexküll’s umwelt theory, the Institute for Umwelt Research at the University of Hamburg, that was founded in 1928, was a unique institution worldwide for holistic research into animal behaviour and perception. However, Uexküll’s vitalistic-teleological approach and his uncompromising anti- Darwinian stance increasingly isolated him. When the closure of his institute was imminent as part of his statutory retirement in 1935, Uexküll ingratiated himself with the National Socialists in a letter to the Reich Minister for Science, Education, and Culture, which serves as a starting point for the article’s detailed discussion of his relationship to National Socialism.</p> <p>Since umwelt theory could be used for the training of guide dogs and other animals useful for military purposes, the institute survived. Still, finding a suitable successor to Uexküll proved difficult because hardly anyone among the German zoologists believed Friedrich Brock, Uexküll’s preferred candidate, would live up to Uexküll’s originality. The most important opponent to Brock’s appointment was Berthold Klatt, professor of zoology at the University of Hamburg, who did not expect any significant progress in zoology from Uexküll’s umwelt theory. After Brock’s death in 1958, the sworn circle of supporters of Uexküll’s umwelt theory tried in vain to push through a successor from their ranks. At the instigation of Curt Kosswig, Klatt’s successor in the Chair of Zoology, Franz Sauer succeeded Brock in 1959. However, a polemical article written by Gösta von Uexküll provoked a scandal, in the wake of which Sauer resigned. In 1960 the Institute for Umwelt Research became a department of the Zoological Institute, existing in the lecture timetables until 1966.</p> <p>Thus, the fate of Uexküll’s research institution depended mainly on external and personal factors or, to speak in Uexküllian terms, on the umwelten of the protagonists and antagonists.</p> Stefan Kirschner Copyright (c) 2024 Stefan Kirschner 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 441 512 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.01 Uncovering the two conceptions of the linguistic sign in Saussure’s lectures: An epistemological inquiry with comments on translational equivalence <p>The principal object of this study is constituted by two epistemologically distinct models of Ferdinand de Saussure’s depictions of the linguistic sign. The first model pertains to a bilateral conception of the sign as an inseparable unity of two sides that evoke each other in the mind of individuals during their speaking and understanding activities. The second model, termed here as ‘unilateral conception’, has been deduced from Saussure’s understanding of <em>parole</em>, where an idea establishes itself in a sound and a sound becomes the sign for an idea. A survey of related terminological distinctions derived from logic and philosophy as well as linguistic semiotics seems indispensable for presenting the positions of these bilateral and unilateral sign concepts in a typological matrix which could embrace all sign models originating in the sciences of language. The additional purpose of this study is to put forward the idea of epistemological equivalence to be achieved in translational practice. This supplementary focus of interest in particular concentrates around the question of how the translations of sign-related terms, selected from <em>Cours de linguistique générale</em>, reflect the epistemological awareness of their English-speaking translators.</p> Zdzisław Wąsik Copyright (c) 2024 Zdzisław Wąsik 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 513 537 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.02 Squaring “The rhetoric of temporality”: Greimassian semiotics and de Manian deconstruction <p>A careful study of the writings of Algirdas Julien Greimas refutes many of Paul de Man’s influential criticisms of semiotics. Greimassian narratology neither reduces rhetoric to grammar nor simply conflates grammar with logic. Instead of forming “a closed totality”, the Greimas square is an open-ended analytical device; it is not the semiotic equivalent of the Schillerian chiasmus. Despite de Man’s claims for the disruptive agency of rhetoric, the elementary structure of signification organizes the possibilities of de Man’s own rhetoric. His essay “The rhetoric of temporality” is a narrative whose four major actants are symbol, allegory, irony, and mimesis. Though the discoursive level of de Man’s essay represses mimesis, it is active in what Greimas would call the argument’s surface grammar, which constrains, without completely determining, the narrative transformations the argument undergoes. While de Man’s analysis regards symbol as epistemologically inferior to allegory and irony, the persistence of symbol helps make “The rhetoric of temporality” a fascinating literary text in its own right.</p> Shawn Normandin Copyright (c) 2024 Shawn Normandin 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 538 564 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.03 Artistic communication as an object of semiotics and linguistic aesthetics <p>The paper addresses the concept of artistic communication as a type of semiotic interaction in the discourses of art. Semiotic methodologies for modelling the sign and the communicative act, developed in the works of Gottlob Frege, Gustav Shpet, Jan Mukařovský, Roman Jakobson, Juri Lotman, Umberto Eco, Suren Zolyan, and some other semioticians, are discussed with a focus on the models of aesthetic sign and the corresponding models of semiosis in relation to artistic systems. The study focuses on the discourses of verbal art in its various manifestations (poetry, prose, drama, performance, spoken word, etc.) as material for a linguistic analysis of artistic communication. The paper specifically discusses the linguistic representations of artistic discourse within a model of aesthetic semiosis. The resulting model of artistic communication in verbal art is presented as a synthesis of Jakobson’s scheme of communicative act and its important specification in Lotman’s model of “literary communication”. Based on the existing models of sign, semiosis, and communication (taking Jakobson’s scheme as the main framework), a synthetic, linguo-aesthetic model of artistic communication is outlined, considering together the linguistic, semiotic, and aesthetic parameters of the artistic act.</p> Vladimir Feshchenko Copyright (c) 2024 Vladimir Feshchenko 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 565 603 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.04 Semiotic mode and sensory modality in multimodal semiotics: Recognizing difference and building complementarity between the terms <p>This article addresses an issue in multimodal cultural studies – the inconsistent use of the notions ‘mode’ and ‘modality’. As these notions are frequently employed interchangeably, making a clear distinction between them and positioning them in a coherent system will be helpful. To outline such a system, I envisage a two-layer framework where modes and modalities support each other. The central branch of multimodal semiotics (developing from Gunther Kress’ sociosemiotics towards John Bateman’s comprehensive approach) recognizes ‘mode’ as a pivotal research concept. While ‘mode’ as a semiotic resource is dependent on its materiality, culturally shaped practices and discourse semantics, the neurocognitive characteristics of sensory modalities are often seen as secondary to meaning-making. This article suggests that discussion of the semiotic potential of sensory modalities is complementary to the semiotic theory of multimodality. In order to illustrate this, I will construct an experimental typology of modality relations, which also takes modes into account. This typology distinguishes between supporting, modifying, conflicting, substituting and cross-activating relations.</p> Martin Oja Copyright (c) 2024 Martin Oja 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 604 637 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.05 Weighing the anchor: Lotmanian perspectives on the Fighting Poland symbol <p>Simple symbols occupy a unique position within the semiosphere, constituting the symbolic core of culture with their ability to condense cultural memory into nimble, economic forms. This simplicity facilitates persistence, allowing these elementary symbols to recur diachronically, penetrating multiple layers of cultural strata to emerge and flourish in new contexts and variations. A novel example of a symbol which illustrates these attributes is <em>Znak Polski Walczącej</em> – the Fighting Poland symbol. Created in 1942 by the Polish Underground State as a propaganda tool, this straightforward monogram, consisting of interconnected letters P and W, became the official hallmark of Polish resistance and is now a controversial <em>de facto</em> national symbol. This article employs the symbol as a case study to explore two Lotmanian symbolic concepts: the vast semantic capacity of simple symbols, and their dual nature as invariable/variable entities. Born out of a utilitarian need for simplicity in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, the efficient form of the Fighting Poland symbol was a pragmatic matter of life or death. However, further examination of its simple design also reveals an underlying archaic depth. This article argues that the Fighting Poland symbol, metonymically known as the kotwica (‘anchor’) owing to its distinct shape, can also be viewed as an “emissary” from earlier cultural epochs, namely ante-Nicene Christianity, which made use of anchor symbology during an era of persecution and upheaval. Ultimately, this article provides a new semiotic perspective on a historically active yet understudied symbol with past and present relevance.</p> Randall Lewis Johnson Copyright (c) 2024 Randall Lewis Johnson 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 638 667 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.06 A biosemiotic approach to landscapes: Alois Riegl’s theories of Kunstwollen and Stimmung revisited in the contexts of cognitive and evolutionary aesthetics <p>This study explores the art historian Alois Riegl’s heuristic terms ‘<em>Kunstwollen</em>’ and ‘<em>Stimmung</em>’ in the contexts of cognitive and evolutionary aesthetics. To begin with, the author draws on notions of instinct theorized by George Romanes, Charles Darwin and Charles Peirce. They are shown to have embraced instinct and associated it with states of mindfulness, good reasoning and intelligence of survival. Another art historian, August Schmarsow, is also shown to have favoured instinctive attitudes and mental trials and errors as the sophisticated approach to art. These rigorous theorizations of instinct serve to expand Riegl’s idea that <em>Kunstwollen</em> suggests a relatively strong human will and desire for art. Further, to verify how viewers may attain states of <em>Kunstwollen</em> and <em>Stimmung</em>, the author draws on two landscapes (<em>Landscape with Roman Ruins</em>, 1536; <em>The Heart of the Andes</em>, 1859) to broaden viewers’ horizons. Viewers are advised to take full advantage of the medium made up by light, air and space so as to work out perspectives that favour their mental wellbeing and the reception of artworks. Finally, the author integrates Riegl’s theories into current research and emphasizes the necessity of unifying biological and cultural factors for the attainment of knowledge or original thinking in inquiries. In brief, Riegl’s theories appear fairly biosemiotic when we consider the rich evolutionary, psychological and semiological contexts surrounding the birth of his insights.</p> Jui-Pi Chien Copyright (c) 2024 Jui-Pi Chien 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 668 689 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.07 Journals of semiotics in the world revisited – and proposing a new list anno 2023 <p>We provide a list of semiotic journals in the world <em>anno</em> 2023. Our article is an expanded follow-up on Kalevi Kull and Timo Maran’s list of semiotic journals from 2013. The article finds that in 2023 there are 66 active semiotic journals in the world; hence, 11 new journals have been launched since 2013. Furthermore, there are 19 semiotic journals currently registered in the SCImago Journal Ranking database (2021 data). The article traces the development of the registration during 1999–2021 and finds that there has been a positive development in the period concerning the total number of citable documents and documents cited at least once, when we look at the semiotic journals as a whole. This is seen as an indication not only of the growth in the scientific output of the semiotic journals but also of an increase in their quality. Finally, in the period from 1964 to 2023 only nine semiotic journals (or 12 percent out of 75 journals) ceased publication. The article optimistically concludes that the development of the journals of semiotics in the world that has taken place during the last ten years points toward how the journals continue to be a stable platform for the future development of the semiotic field.</p> Bent Sørensen Torkild Thellefsen Amalia Nurma Dewi Copyright (c) 2024 Bent Sørensen, Torkild Thellefsen, Amalia Nurma Dewi 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 690 708 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.08 Unravelling semiotics in 2022: A year in review <p>Unravelling semiotics in 2022: A year in review</p> Remo Gramigna Mari-Liis Madisson Copyright (c) 2024 Remo Gramigna, Mari-Liis Madisson 2023-12-31 2023-12-31 51 3-4 709 733 10.12697/SSS.2023.51.3-4.09