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Wednesday, 11 December 2019 15:01

Special issue of Punctum - International Journal of Semiotics: Translation and translatability in intersemiotic space

Editors: Evangelos Kourdis and Susan Petrilli

It is our belief that the broadening of the notion of text has largely come about thanks to contributions from semiotic studies, according to a movement that has brought translation studies closer to semiotics. The relevancy of general sign studies to translation theory and practice has helped translation studies to move away from the verbo-centric dogmatism of the sixties and seventies when only systems ruled by double articulation were recognized the dignity of language (Eco, 1976). As Torop (2014) argues, “text is what we understand in culture and it is through the text that we understand something of culture”.

Thanks to our primary modelling system or language (“language as modelling” which conditions communication and translation through the great multiplicity of different verbal and nonverbal “languages” with which human beings enter into contact with each other, signify, interpret, and respond to each other), understanding in culture occurs through texts of the semiotic order, verbal and nonverbal texts, multimodal texts, in the unending chain of responses among texts, engendered in the relation among speakers and listeners, readers and writers. Texts are created, interpreted and re-created in dialogic relations among participants in communication. Their sense and meaning is modeled, developed and amplified through the processes of transmutation ensuing from and at once promoting the cultural spaces of encounter.

Torop (2014) argues that the text is located in a wide intersemiotic space, and that the analysis of a text demands investigation of its creation, construction, and reception: the text is a process in intersemiotic space. If we accept Marais’ (2018) argument that all socio-cultural phenomena have a translation dimension, it is difficult to disagree with Gentzler’s (2001) observation that translation theory can quickly enmesh the researcher in the entire intersemiotic network of language and culture, one touching on all disciplines and discourses. Nor could it be otherwise if we consider that the material of language and culture is sign material and that the sign as such is in translation. This means to say that to be this sign here the sign must be other, to be this text here the text must be other. The signifying specificity of a text develops in translational processes among signs and interpretants, utterers and listeners, writers and readers, across semiosic spheres and disciplines, across intersemiotic, or transemiotic spaces in the signifying universe, verbal and nonverbal.

The notion of text has evolved significantly thanks to contributions not only from the Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics but also from the French School, with important implications for the question of translatability, a fundamental property and specific characteristic of all semiotic systems – as stated, the “sign is in translation”. It ensues that translatability subtends the semantic process (Greimas & Courtés 1993), and with Charles Morris (1938) interpreted by Ferruccio Rossi-Landi (1954, 1975, 1992), we know that meaning not only concerns the semantic dimension of semiosis, but also the syntactical and the pragmatic dimensions. With reference to interlingual translation, as Petrilli (2003) claims, translatability indicates an open relation between a text in the original and its translation. In this volume of Punctum, we will investigate this open relation.

Deadline for abstracts: 15 December 2019

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