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Enchantment of the past and semiocide. Remembering Ivar Puura

146 Timo Maran
Enchantment of the past and semiocide.
Remembering Ivar Puura
Timo Maran1
When someone close to you passes away, a world ceases to exist. A semiotician
would say it is an umwelt, a subjective world with all the richness of sign pa erns,
personal memories and stories, nuances of expressions and habits that disappears.
A countless number of semiotic connections are severed.
Ivar Puura (b. 1961) died unexpectedly on July 20, 2012. Ivar Puura was a sup-
porter and a good dialogue partner of the Tartu semiotic community for more
than twenty years (for a more detailed biographical overview, see Kull 2012).
A geologist by training and an active proponent of environmental education and
protection, Ivar Puura o en brought fresh perspectives into semiotic debates.
He also acted as a long-time chair of the  eoretical Biology Division of the
Estonian Naturalists’ Society, was the main organizer of the annual Spring Schools
in  eoretical Biology, and an editor of many thematic volumes of the Society.
Especially remarkable were his views on temporal processes, development, and
evolution, as well as his interest in semiotics of time (including the new  eld of
paleo semiotics envisioned by him). Although Ivar Puura published li le in the  eld
of semiotics, he gave a number of presentations on various topics related to semiot-
ics, among others “Memory and subjective time: how the story of time is created”,
“Domesticating the unknown, “Time, chronesthesia and memory”, “From mirror-
ing nature to distorting nature: models, myths and manipulations”.2
Author’s address: Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu; Jakobi 2, Tartu 51014;
Estonia; e-mail:
e original titles and occasions of Ivar Puura’s semiotics-related presentations are the
following: “Mälu ja subjektiivne aeg: kuidas luuakse aja lugu?” [Memory and subjective time:
how the story of time is created] presented at the seminar “Isiklikud loodused” [Personal
Natures], November 25, 2002; “Tundmatu kodustamine” [Domesticating the unknown] at the
conference “Semiootika piirid” [Boundaries of Semiotics], November 24–25, 2006, see also
Puura 2006; “Aeg, kronesteesia ja mälu” [Time, chronesthesia and memory] at “VIII semiootika
sügiskool: Semiootika metodoloogia” [VIII Autumn School of Semiotics: Methodology of
Semiotics], November 3–5, 2006; “Looduse peegeldusest looduse väänamiseni: mudelid,
müüdid ja manipulatsioon” [From mirroring nature to distorting nature: models, myths and
Sign Systems Studies 41(1), 2013, 146–149
Enchantment of the past and semiocide. Remembering Ivar Puura 147
In this volume of Sign Systems Studies we publish a translation of Ivar Puura’s es-
say “Nature in our memory, which originally appeared in Estonian in Eesti Loodus
[Estonian nature], a popular journal of biological sciences (Puura 2002).  e es-
say revolves around two intrinsically semiotic principles:  rst, every living being is
connected to its environment by semiotic relations that accumulate in time; and
second, to be human is to be aware of our continuity in time which in turn entails
a capacity to predict future, to manipulate temporal phenomena and to provide
narratives about time.  e  rst principle unites us with other animals since all bi-
ological organisms rely on natural sign relations and semiotic a ordances3 of the
environment.  e second property is rather a peculiarity of the human species that
opens up a rich world of imagination, but also places upon us an ethical responsi-
bility not to misuse our abilities. By introducing an important concept of semiocide,
Ivar Puura directs our a ention to the possibility of misusing our semiotic skills:
according to him, semiocide is “a situation in which signs and stories that are sig-
ni cant for someone are destroyed because of someone else’s malevolence or care-
lessness, thereby stealing a part of the former’s identity”.
Semiocide has the potential to become a useful theoretical concept for describ-
ing relationships between cultures as well as between culture and nature, and for
distinguishing speci c practices applied in these relationships. In its essence, we
can describe any such relationship as an encounter between ones own semiotic
sphere and another semiotic sphere (to follow the terminology of Juri Lotman
2005), and we can categorize these relationships on the basis of a itude (wheth-
er one’s own semiotic sphere is aggressive or neutral towards or supportive of the
other), level of activity (whether it is passive or active towards the other), and
intentionality (whether the relationship is cognized and intentional or not).
Semiocide can take place in a situation in which one’s own semiotic sphere is ac-
tively aggressive towards the other semiotic sphere and brings along the destruc-
tion of the la er’s “signs and stories”.  e question of intentionality is more ambiva-
lent and by focusing predominantly on the victims of semiocide, Puura’s de nition
is broad enough to include both destruction because of someone’s “malevolence”
that is intentional and directed, and destruction because of someones “negligence
that is unintentional, undirected and o en accidental. I believe, however, that the
manipulations] at the seminar “Ökosemiootika suveseminar” [Summer Seminar in Eco-
semiotics], July 31 – August 2, 2009.
 Semiotic a ordances could be understood as “those environmental elements that have a
tendency to act as objects of signs. Such elements could be physical areas, for instance, hybrid
zones between biological communities, animal trails in the landscape, water currents, but also
temporal events, such as seasonal rains, forest res, and the melting of the snow” (Maran,
forthcoming). See also Gibson 1986: 127.
148 Timo Maran
distinction between intentional and unintentional semiocide may be relevant for
the future discussion of the concept:  rst, because intentional semiocide requires
planning and awareness of the other’s semioticity, being thus foremost a capacity
of the human species4; and second, because it is in regard to intentional semiocide
that we can speak of speci c practices used in semiocide. Unintentional semiocide
is o en part of our relations with other species: for instance, semiocide can appear
as the damaging e ects of human tra c noise on the vocal communication of wild
birds (Forman, Alexander 1998). Unintentional semiocide can be avoided by in-
creasing our knowledge.
In analysing actual occurrences of semiocide, we can distinguish between cases
in which the destruction of semiotic processes is a by-product of the destruction of
the material environment and objects, and cases in which the semiotic and com-
municative processes themselves are the primary target. Material destruction can
be part of semiocide against biological species and indigenous cultures, in which
case the other semiotic sphere relies mostly on natural (i.e. iconic, indexical) sign
relations that use semiotic a ordances of landscapes and material objects. Also
symbolic manifestations of culture such as statues, religious buildings, heraldic
symbols, natural monuments etc. are vulnerable to material destruction. In cases
when semiocide is targeted directly at semiotic or communicative processes, it can
be more speci cally aimed at any one component of the process. Here we can fol-
low classic descriptions of communication, such as Roman Jakobson’s or  omas
A. Sebeok’s communication models, and ask what components of communication
semiocide can a ect: thus, senders and receivers can be persecuted or executed,
the channel of communication can be prohibited, and the communication code
damaged. Ivar Puura’s essay provides examples of all of these cases. We can further
describe speci c strategies of semiocide, for instance masking (replacing informa-
tion and messages with those of dominant culture) and ideological overcoding
(Eco 1984: 22–23).
Puura most correctly stresses that nowadays the phenomenon of semiocide is
very widespread both in human culture and society as well as in relations between
culture and nature. Unfortunately, semiotics appears to have overlooked this dark
side of semiotic relations, as is evident from the lack of a conceptual framework
and studies dedicated to this topic. As we now have a word to denote this phenom-
enon, there is hope that Ivar Puura’s legacy in semiotics will be be er perceived
and also elaborated.  is is a question of the ethical responsibility of semiotics.
While chronesthesia and other unique semiotic capabilities have enabled humans
to reach the position from which we are able to intentionally carry out semiocide,
Apparently there are destructive strategies that target the means of communications also in
other species, for instance in parasites of ants and slave-making ants (Lenoir et al. 2001).
Enchantment of the past and semiocide. Remembering Ivar Puura 149
the same capabilities also make us aware that every human being as well as every
animal gravitates towards the “reliable world of dearly loved landscapes and smells,
familiar signs and relationships”. Since the ability to remember our past and to proj-
ect our being into the future makes us so eager to preserve our existence over time,
semiotics can teach us that we can thrive only in our relations with what is other
and di erent. It is indeed a profound semiotic insight that to have a future, any se-
miotic sphere needs a realm (objects, partners of dialogue, context) that remains
(partially) outside it and that it does not fully perceive, understand or control. We
are our memories, but what we predominantly remember, are others – other hu-
man beings, animals, places, books. One of these others is you, Ivar. Fostering the
richness of the world appears to be an essential principle of semiotic ethics.
Eco, Umberto 1984. e Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press.
Forman, Richard T. T.; Alexander, Laurene E. 1998. Roads and their major ecological e ects.
Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 207–231.
Gibson, James J. 1986. e Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Hillsdale: Lawrence
Kull, Kalevi 2012. Ivar Puura jäljed semiootikas [Traces of Ivar Puura in semiotics]. Acta
Semiotica Estica 9: 258–259.
Lenoir, Alain; D’E orre, P.; Errard, Christine; Hefetz, Abraham 2001. Chemical ecology and
social parasitism in ants. Annual Review of Entomology 46: 573–599.
Lotman, Juri 2005. On the semiosphere. Sign Systems Studies 33(1): 205–229.
Maran, Timo forthcoming. Semiotization of ma er. A hybrid zone between biosemiotics and
material ecocriticism. In: Iovino, Serenella; Oppermann, Serpil (eds.). Material Ecocriticism.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Puura, Ivar 2002. Loodus meie mälus. Eesti Loodus 11: 24–25.
Puura, Ivar 2006. Domesticating the unknown. In: Maran, Timo; Salupere, Silvi; Väli, Katre
(eds.) Conference Abstracts. Boundaries of Semiotics. Tartu, Estonia, 24–25.11. 2006. Tartu:
Eesti Semiootika Selts, 39.
150 Ivar Puura
Nature in our memory1
Ivar Puura
Humans seem to have been set apart from other animals by their ability for mental
time travel, into the past as well as into the future. In case this is so – have we tried
to appreciate the true wealth that this ability gives us? Are we able to perceive these
opportunities and the full responsibility that it brings along?
“If we kept all our wonderful abilities except for the sense of time, we would
still remain uniquely di erent from all other animals, but we would hardly be hu-
mans in the sense we understand it now,2 believes Endel Tulving (2002). Tulving
writes that the unique human sense of time – chronesthesia – is related to the
development of speci c brain regions (prefrontal cortex and frontal lobes). By
chronesthesia Tulving understands “a form of cognition that allows human be-
ings to think about subjective time and enables travel through subjective time.
Furthermore, he concludes that “for the development and continuance of civilisa-
tion and culture it is indispensable for a human being to be aware of her own and
her o spring’s continued existence in time that includes not only the past and the
present but also future” (Tulving 2002).
Each moment of communication with our surroundings involves recognition
of signs, establishment of their interrelations, a ribution of meaning – in other
words, there occurs semiosis. Chronesthesia can be seen as a type of semiosis in
which personal memories are arranged on a subjective timeline. It is only on the
basis of remembering the personal that trust can appear or disappear. Wisdom as
well as stupidity, sincerity as well as deceit are all recorded in the mind. On the ba-
sis of experience all of us shape our own landscape of memory, space of values, at-
titudes and (pre)conceptions.
Personal time travels intertwine memories and acquired knowledge. Among
these there are general signs of culture that “[...] actualize behavioural, ideological,
temporal and spatial codes in the mind of the receiver” (Torop 1999). Kalevi Kull
and Mihhail Lotman (1995) have suggested: “A sign requires to be recognized.
What an interpreter does not recognize is not a sign for her.  is, seemingly a rath-
er self-evident and primitive statement brings along rather important implications,
such as semiosis being inseparably connected to memory.
Originally published as “Puura, Ivar 2002. Loodus meie mälus. Eesti Loodus 11: 24–25”
All quotations from Estonian are translated by Elin Sütiste and Timo Maran.
Sign Systems Studies 41(1), 2013, 150–153
Nature in our memory 151
Jaan Kaplinski (1996) has wri en: “In a simple case, the free part of mind is
lled with a simple re ection of the surroundings. But our mind is hardly ever a
mere mirror:  laments of memory connect each of our perceptions to something
past.  ere is no such thing as a pure present. Memories bring into it the past,
wishes and expectations the future; imagination and thinking combine all this into
new pictures and thoughts.
A notion of temporal relations accompanies us everywhere.  e pillars of our
world picture – ideas about the emergence and development of phenomena,
about causality and repeatability of experiments – all entail temporal relation-
ships. Wri en and unwri en rules of communal life, morality, ethics, (behavioural)
norms, laws and responsibility for our past – all these are based on our own and
others’ personal (life)stories unfolding in time.
Claude Lévi-Strauss (2001), who studied the “savage mind” of indigenous peo-
ple, described tribes who responded to the researchers’ wish to learn their language
with spreading out a pile of plants.  e names of the hundreds of plants make up
a considerable part of a tribe’s common vocabulary and signscape. Some under-
standing of the depth of such “savage thinking” can develop in a person whose
knowledge of nature approaches that of indigenous peoples.
homas A. Sebeok (from le ), Kalevi Kull and Ivar Puura at the seminar “Uexküll and the Liv-
ing Environment” at the Estonian Naturalists' Society, Tartu, June 8, 1999 (Photo: T. Maran
152 Ivar Puura
As a contrast to the world in which there still exist shreds of the “savage mind”,
Jean Baudrillard describes a world of simulacra, in which groves and meadows are
replaced by arti cial environments, such as Disneyland or McDonald’s. While in
earlier times natural landscapes were transferred onto maps, at the present time
programmes to change nature are devised in the paper reality of landscape plan-
ning. A modelled arti cial environment as a simulacrum starts to prevail over the
primeval and the natural, both in the physical world as well as in the human mind.
e diversity of nature is overwhelming. Every living creature, being part of a
greater whole, carries in itself memories of billions of years of evolution and em-
bodies its own long and largely still unknown story of origin. By wholesale replace-
ment of primeval nature with arti cial environments, it is not only nature in the
biological sense that is lost. At the hands of humans, millions of stories with bil-
lions of relations and variations perish.  e rich signscape of nature is replaced by
something much poorer. It is not an exaggeration to call this process semiocide.
I understand semiocide to be a situation in which signs and stories that are signif-
icant for someone are destroyed because of someone elses malevolence or careless-
ness, thereby stealing a part of the former’s identity. In everyday life this o en takes
place in the form of material or mental violence among children as well as grownups:
things that are signi cant and have become dear to somebody are threatened to be
or are actually destroyed. In the cultural sphere, semiocide can be looting of tombs
or destruction of heritage objects. Classic nature protection looks out for individual
natural objects also in the sense of their physical as well as semiotic existence.
When semiocide is targeted at some nation or group of people, it can manifest
itself as ideological pressure or as sacrilege that o en goes together with physical
violence or occupation. A form of semiocide – linguacide, i.e. suppression of na-
tional languages – is something we remember from our own recent past and can
see everywhere in the world today. Semiocide has also been the destruction of
totems of indigenous people and the banishing of people from their home sign-
scape– from the native land of their forefathers, taking away from them everything
which all together means home.
What is homesickness if not a wish to return to our reliable world of dearly
loved landscapes and smells, familiar signs and relationships? What keeps families
in their homes until the last moment when burning lava or rising water is already
threateningly near? Why do families refuse to accept  nancially tempting o ers to
move away when their homes get in the way of new mines or roads?
If we took time to get to know ourselves be er, we would discover nature
in ourselves. Deep in our memory our sensations are related to the signs of na-
ture that we see, smell and hear even when we have not yet become aware of
this. Nature that is intimately familiar to us embodies the signscape that carries
Nature in our memory 153
traditions going back through centuries, helps culture to persist and helps human
beings to stay human.
How can we  nd this nature in ourselves? We can always listen to nature’s music
that lightens our mind. Some people experience an elevated mood, others perceive
the nuances of the melody, yet others are able to write the music down as a score,
and  nally there are some who are able to create music.  e richness of melodies
and signs hidden in nature is not elitist, it cannot be fenced in or marketed. Nature
just is. When need be, it comforts the traveller of the (memory) landscape. And
sometimes nature gives us a jolly wink and is willing to tell its stories, unfolding
multilayered meanings and o ering joy of discovery to last one’s entire lifetime.
Baudrillard, Jean 1999. Simulaakrumid ja simulatsioon [Simulacra and simulation]. Tallinn:
Kaplinski, Jaan 1996. See ja teine [ is and that]. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.
Kull, Kalevi; Lotman, Mihhail 1995. Semiotica Tartuensis: Jakob von Uexküll ja Juri Lotman
[Semiotica Tartuensis: Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman]. Akadeemia 7(12): 2467–2483.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude 2001. Metsik mõtlemine [ e savage mind]. Tallinn: Vagabund.
Torop, Peeter 1999. Kultuurimärgid [Signs of culture]. Tartu: Ilmamaa.
Tulving, Endel 2002. Mälu [Memory]. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.
Translated by Elin Sütiste and Timo Maran
... Cf. Puura (2013) and Maran (2013). 2 ...
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In this interview, Wendy Wheeler, London Metropolitan University Emerita Professor of English Literature and Cultural Inquiry, discusses her thoughts on biosemiotics and its relevance for ethics. In Wheeler’s perspective, biosemiotics can ground ethics because it offers an alternative and fitting ontology of relations. She shares her thoughts on Peirce as a foundational figure for biosemiotics, and explains why she doubts that an ecological ethics can be framed in terms of laws. Further, she discusses her views on moral agency in nonhumans, and warns against ideas based on human exceptionalism, sentimentalism and puritanism. Wheeler thinks that a biosemiotic ethics can posit a more located, or systemically nested, sense of semiotic value. Her moral question, she explains, would always be something like: Is this growing? Is this lively?
... "By wholesale replacement of primeval nature with artificial environments", writes Puura (2013: 152), "[a]t the hands of humans, millions of stories with billions of relations and variations perish". As Timo Maran (2013) remarks, according to Puura the phenomenon of semiocide is very widespread both in human culture and society as well as in relations between culture and nature. Unfortunately, semiotics appears to have overlooked this dark side of semiotic relations, as is evident from the lack of a conceptual framework and studies dedicated to this topic. ...
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In this introduction to the special issue on Biosemiotic Ethics, we introduce major concepts and themes corresponding to the topic. With reference to Ivar Puura’s notion of “semiocide”, we ask: what are the ethical responsibilities that attention to semiotics carries? We argue that if life is fundamentally semiotic, then biosemiotics and moral theory should be explored in conjunction, rather than separately. Biosemiotic ethics becomes relevant whenever one complex of signs impinges on another; particularly whenever human sign usage impinges on the wellbeing or sustainable functioning of human or non-human semiotic agents. Stable coexistence of sign systems is far from inevitable, but it is a meaningful goal that can be pursued. In complex ecosystems, for example, certain types of coexistent relationships have evolved to share space despite competitive needs and expressions. We describe the ways in which authors in this volume articulate various justifications for the view that what is morally relevant is semiosis. Given these perspectives in a growing approach to understanding moral relationships, biosemiotic ethics has the decisive advantage of drawing on contemporary biosemiotics’ empirically-informed biological acuity within a rich semiotic framework.
... Both territorial markings in various animals and environments altered to reflect the identity of humans groups are examples of this process. Detached signs are also related to an ecosemiotic understanding of semiocide (Puura 2013;Maran 2013)where damaging the physical environment destroys semiosic and communicative processes that have their detached objects in the environment. Analysing manifold representamens in the environment makes it possible to notice that the environment may include complex signs with internal structure and syntax. ...
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Environmental signs as physically manifested signs that we and other animals perceive and interpret in the natural environment are seldom focused on in contemporary semiotics. The aim of the present paper is to highlight the diversity of environmental signs and to propose a typology for analysing them. Combining ecosemiotics and the pragmatist semiotics of C. Peirce and C. Morris, the proposed typology draws its criteria from the properties of the object and the representamen of the sign, and of their relationships. The analysis distinguishes eight basic types of environmental signs and provides examples of these from the natural environment. The typology also integrates existing concepts of environmental affordances, ecofields, phonetic syntax, sign fields, ecological codes, meta-signs and others. In addition to basic types of environmental signs, compound environmental signs are discussed with three types of these distinguished: (1) environmental meta-signs; (2) ecological codes; and (3) environmental-cultural hybrid signs. Further study of compound environmental signs could lead to reconceptualising relations between linguistic and pre-linguistic semiosis.
L’eau a creusé son chemin jusqu’au cœur des discussions sur le développement durable. Les discours autour de la gestion des eaux soulignent à la fois son abondance dévastatrice et son absence critique : la montée des eaux se juxtapose à la désertification ; les tornades et les inondations répondent à des périodes de sécheresse prolongées. Alors que nous polluons, canalisons et dessalinisons à un rythme toujours croissant, la nature ambiguë de notre relation avec l’eau devient visible. Pendant que nous continuons d’endommager ce qui, par-dessus tout, rend la vie possible, la précarité augmente pour l’ensemble de la population. Il n’est donc pas étonnant qu’un changement de paradigme dans notre compréhension des eaux, devant engendrer une modification dans leur utilisation, soit présenté comme l’un des plus grands et plus pressants défis de notre époque. Ma recherche répond à ce défi. Elle porte sur la poétique de l’espace, c’est-à-dire sur l’étude de la manière dont les êtres humains vivent et interagissent avec leur environnement à travers les arts. Plus précisément, j’explore les relations entre les humains, les eaux et les sons (à la fois propres et générés par les humains) dans la Lower Murray Country (Australie Méridionale). Mon but est de révéler et théoriser ces relations qui évoluent en parallèle afin d’élaborer une cartographie mettant à jour toute une gamme de manières de percevoir et de comprendre ces eaux, et d’être ensuite à même d’utiliser cette pluralité pour remettre en question—et potentiellement imaginer à nouveau—leur construction et représentation culturelles. Afin d’atteindre ce but, j’érige “les eaux” en leitmotiv qui me permet d’unifier ma recherche et me déplacer entre des espaces physiques et théoriques pour mettre en dialogue les individus et leur environnement, tant au niveau local que général. En particulier, je me sers du mouvement des eaux que forment le courant et la résonance pour opérer cette synthèse, mouvement que j’associe à la rythmanalyse et la réverbération (d’après les philosophes Henri Lefebvre et Fran Dyson, respectivement). Je me suis également inspirée du travail du philosophe et poète Édouard Glissant. En particulier, son concept de Relation est une clef pour me permettre de traduire textuellement ces mouvements des eaux. J’applique cette méthodologie aqueuse à presque deux siècles de production musicale—allant des pratiques ngarrindjeri et des ballades coloniales à la musique classique contemporaine et l’art sonore ; et presque deux siècles de modifications touchant au “caractère sonore” des eaux de la Lower Murray Country—matérialisée à travers la déforestation défigurante, la retenue des eaux, l’irrigation mais aussi la salinité croissante des eaux comme des sols. Ainsi, cette thèse se construit selon le principe d’accumulation d’exemples prôné par Glissant (Poetics of Relation 172-4). Elle est structurée autour de quatre sections—quatre visions punctiformes des eaux écrites comme un prélude à une potentielle infinité d’autres. Furtives, partielles, orientées et fragmentées, ces visions procèdent de périodes particulièrement significatives : de périodes pouvant subir des changements, de périodes charnières où des altérations radicales peuvent poindre ou apparaître effectivement.
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Mimicry is common among animals, plants, and other kingdoms of life. Humans in late capitalism, however, have devised an unique method of mimicking the signs that trigger evolutionarily-programmed instincts of their own species in order to manipulate them. Marketing and advertising are the most pervasive and sophisticated forms of known human mimicry, deliberately hijacking our instincts in order to select on the basis of one dimension only: profit. But marketing and advertising also strangely undermine their form of mimicry, deceiving both the intended targets and the signaler simultaneously. Human forms of mimicry have the regular consequence of deceiving the imitator, reducing meta-cognitive awareness of the act and intentions surrounding such deception. Therefore, the deceiver in the end deceives himself as well as intended targets. Drawing on scholarship applying Niko Tinbergen’s ethological discovery of supernormal stimuli in animals to humans, this article analyzes sophisticated mass mimicry in contemporary culture, in both intended and unintended forms.
It is often asserted that the existence of human language sets us apart from non-humans, and makes us incomparably special. And indeed human language does make our Umwelt (Jakob von Uexküll), our lifeworld, uniquely open-ended. However, by committing what I term the anthropocentric mistake, i.e. falsely assuming that all true reality is linguistic, we close in on ourselves and our language-derived practices, and as a result we lose sight of much that truly matters (including a proper understanding of our human nature). Like Sebeok and Hoffmeyer I hold that language is a modeling system, but unlike them I argue that language is not external to the Umwelt, but internal to it. Language changes the human Umwelt not by escaping or sidelining it, but by fundamentally transforming it. In consequence supra-linguistic phenomena as well are modeled as internal to the human Umwelt. The Umwelt model presented is termed the tripartite Umwelt model, and includes three aspects of Umwelt: the core Umwelt, the mediated Umwelt and the conceptual Umwelt. Linguistic practices are placed within the latter, but it is furthermore claimed that a number of animals too have conceptual Umwelten, which are said to be characterized by predicative reasoning, the habitual, mental attribution of specific features to someone or something. The activity of languaging is presented as more-than-linguistic, with reference to the distributed language perspective. Given all the dark matter underpinning and surrounding verbal practices, a foray into the hinterland of language is called for. A section on the genesis and modalities of language addresses the origin and evolution of language, acquisition of language in childhood and a simple typology of the various linguistic modalities of the human Umwelt. The concluding section treats Ivar Puura’s notion semiocide, and the question: how can we language as if nature mattered?
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The chemical strategies by which parasites manage to break into the social fortresses of ants offer a fascinating theme in chemical ecology. Semiochemicals used for interindividual nestmate recognition are also involved in the mechanisms of tolerance and association between the species, and social parasites exploit these mechanisms. The obligate parasites are odorless ("chemical insignificance") at the time of usurpation, like all other callow ants, and this "invisibility" enables their entry into the host colony. By chemical mimicry (sensu lato), they later integrate the gestalt odor of this colony ("chemical integration"). We hypothesize that host and parasite are likely to be related chemically, thereby facilitating the necessary mimicry to permit bypassing the colony odor barrier. We also review the plethora of chemical weapons used by social parasites (propaganda, appeasement, and/or repellent substances), particularly during the usurpation period, when the young mated parasite queen synthesizes these chemicals before usurpation and ceases such biosynthesis afterwards. We discuss evolutionary trends that may have led to social parasitism, focusing on the question of whether slave-making ants and their host species are expected to engage in a coevolutionary arms race.
Abstract A huge road network with vehicles ramifies across the land, representing a surprising frontier of ecology. Species-rich roadsides are conduits for few species. Roadkills are a premier mortality source, yet except for local spots, rates rarely limit population size. Road avoidance, especially due to traffic noise, has a greater ecological impact. The still-more-important barrier effect subdivides populations, with demographic and probably genetic consequences. Road networks crossing landscapes cause local hydrologic and erosion effects, whereas stream networks and distant valleys receive major peak-flow and sediment impacts. Chemical effects mainly occur near roads. Road networks interrupt horizontal ecological flows, alter landscape spatial pattern, and therefore inhibit important interior species. Thus, road density and network structure are informative landscape ecology assays. Australia has huge road-reserve networks of native vegetation, whereas the Dutch have tunnels and overpasses perforating road barriers to enhance ecological flows. Based on road-effect zones, an estimated 15–20% of the United States is ecologically impacted by roads.
The problem of dialogue has quite understandably been the focus of investigations in recent decades. Since publication of the study by L. P. Yakubinskii entitled On dialogic speech, interest in this question has risen steadily, and in 1929 reached a level that was in many respects far ahead of that of general scientific thought at the time. The problem of dialogue is more and more moving into the center of attention of linguistic interest. This is quite understandable: indeed, the real unit of speech (Sprache als Rede), as we know, is not an isolated monologue statement, but the interaction of at least two statements, i.e., dialogue. The entire range of questions from the mechanism of consciousness and the construction of models of languages to communication with computers leads us, in one way or another, to the problem of dialogue. Moreover, recognition that a dialogue situation is a prerequisite of the communicative process and, in this respect, precedes not only the monologue form of a statement but also the phenomenon of language as such, and the discovery that there is a latent dialogue in monologue texts of various forms increases still further the scope of the problem.
The essay provides a brief analysis of correspondence between two scholars whose heritage forms the basis of contemporary Tartu semiotics-Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) and Juri Lotman (1922-1993). A comparison between Uexküll's and Lotman's work demonstrates a series of features in which their approaches are in concord. We find some aspects of local culture as supportive of their way of thinking. We also claim that the theoretical integration of Jakob Uexküll's and Juri Lotman's approaches is at the heart of the contemporary semiotics, which has a task to develop a theoretical and methodological apparatus that would delimit and specify the scope of general semiotics and that could be used as a basis for all branches of semiotics.