Translation and other acts of meaning: In between cognitive semiotics and semiotics of culture

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If translation is an act of meaning transaction, semiotics should be able to define its specificity in relation to other semiotic acts. Instead, following upon suggestions by Roman Jakobson, the Tartu school, and, more implicitly, Charles Sanders Peirce, the notion of translation has been generalized to cover more or less everything that can be done within and between semiotic resources. In this paper, we start out from a definition of communication elaborated by the author in an earlier text, characterizing translation as a double act of meaning. This characterization takes into account the instances of sending and receiving of both acts involved: the first one at the level of cognition and the second one at the level of communication. Given this definition, we show that Jakobson's "intralinguistic translation"is, in a sense, the opposite of translation and that his "intersemiotic translation"has important differences and well as similarities to real translation. We also suggest that "cultural translation"has very little to do with translation proper except, in some cases, at the end of its operation. Peirce's idea of exchanging signs for other signs is better understood as a characterization of tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-280
Number of pages32
JournalCognitive Semiotics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • translation
  • communication
  • cognition
  • cultural semiotics
  • semiotic resources


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