Translation: A biosemiotic/more-than-human perspective

Alison Sealey


This article contributes to the developing recognition that the challenges raised by the enterprise of translating between languages extend beyond human language. It suggests that there are parallels between the political issues recognised by translation scholars – of exclusion, misrepresentation and speaking for ‘the other’ – and those raised by biosemiotics, the study of signs in all living systems. Following a discussion of convergence in current developments in translation studies, semiotics and human-animal studies, the article presents an analysis of empirical data, with specific reference to the different meanings of the verb hear. The findings demonstrate the anthropocentric assumptions that are embedded in the way hearing is routinely represented, and an argument is presented for the recognition of these in communications about the semiotic resources relevant to non-human life forms. The paper concludes with some reflections on the implications of these issues for the enterprise of translation.

Publication history
Table of contents

There’s a lot going on in a bird’s song that human ears can’t appreciate.

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