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Emergence of living language: ontogeny–phylogeny framework and other parallels of linguistics and biology

Abstract

Although language is something deeply embedded in our nature, the question of its origin is of the same order as the misty question of the origin of life. I point out that the core of the problem can be rooted in the dichotomy between language and speech, similar to the dichotomy of genotype and phenotype in biology. Following the ontogeny–phylogeny framework, I propose that studies of language ontogeny, especially its early stages, can bring a new understanding to language, same as the study of communication in non-human primates.

Open access
Overcoming Dyadic Boundaries: Reading Poetic Experience after the Semiotics and Pragmatism of Charles S. Peirce

Abstract

The aim of this article is to offer a reading of the poetic experience through the scope of the semiotics and pragmatism of Chares S. Peirce. Such a reading through semiotics and pragmatism unveils deeper levels of the process of interpretation involving abduction, an inference through which new meanings implied in the semantic tensions arise. Methodologically, the article begins with Roman Jakobson’s realisation that only a broader semiotical context, which breaches the boundaries of the dyadic components of significant and signified scope of structuralism, enables the access to deeper levels of poetic events. The article’s author then discusses the limitations of the dyadic relations of structuralism and, as a broader processual framework to assess poeticity, sets out to discuss the poetic experience from the perspective of pragmatism and its all-encompassing logic of abduction.

Open access
Representational Systems in Zoosemiotics and Anthroposemiotics Part I: What Have the So-Called “Talking Animals” Taught Us about Human Language?

Abstract

This paper offers a brief critical review of some of the so-called “Talking Animals” projects. The findings from the projects are compared with linguistic data from Homo sapiens and with newer evidence gleaned from experiments on animal syntactic skills. The question concerning what had the so-called “Talking Animals” really done is broken down into two categories – words and (recursive) syntax. The (relative) failure of the animal projects in both categories points mainly to the fact that the core feature of language – hierarchical recursive syntax – is missing in the pseudo-linguistic feats of the animals.

Open access
Representational Systems in Zoosemiotics and Anthroposemiotics Part II: On Meta-Representation and Human Language

Abstract

Following the conclusions of the previous paper (Uhlir, this issue), this paper adopts a theory that is based on the notion that the essence of language is uniquely human, with no homologue elsewhere in nature, and advances the possibility that human language is discontinuous not only within communication systems but also within representational systems. Linguistic data from disparate sources in Homo sapiens are contrasted with evidence from animals. After briefly discussing the dialectics between the mosaic approach to language and the holistic approach to an integrated left hemisphere, the paper culminates in a proposal of a general zoosemiotic theory of “Representational Systems” and a special anthroposemiotic theory of “Meta-representational Systems”.

Open access
Rhetorical meaning

Abstract

This paper introduces rhetorical meaning to semantic theory; we use the term by analogy to tropes like metonymy in classical rhetoric, which yields ‘the American president’ from the White House—that is, it substitutes one referential meaning for another. Here we focus on two rhetorical meanings: intensification and attenuation. Intensification is expressed in English and many other languages by total reduplication (an old old man); attenuation is exemplified by Spanish ‘synthetic’ diminutive forms (hombrecito ‘little man’; cf. hombre ‘man’) and English and French ‘analytic’ formations (My Little Chickadee (film); petit caporal ‘Little Corporal’ (Napoléon Bonaparte)). Formally, a rhetorical meaning is a relation with one referential meaning as its domain and, as its codomain, a set of related referential meanings, the particular set specified by the rhetorical meaning at hand. The selection from among elements of the codomain, which can even seem contradictory out of context, is in fact highly context-dependent and indicates a critical role for pragmatics in an overall account of this meaning type.

Open access
Towards an Encyclopaedia of Sequence Biology

Abstract

In this review, I have presented several topics relevant to the present state and to the future state of the scientific field that I propose to call sequence biology (SB). In some pertinent publications, this field was called DNA linguistics. At the heart of SB lies a concept of a sequence code. In this review, I discussed three concepts: a concept of SB, a concept of encyclopaedia of genetic codes, and a concept of a corpus DNA linguistics.

Open access