Tartu University Library, Struve 1
[Animals] never enter into relationships with neutral objects. Through every relationship the neutral object is transformed into a meaning-carrier, the meaning of which is imprinted upon it by a subject.
Zoosemiotics is an interdisciplinary research program introduced by an American semiotician Thomas A. Sebeok in the 1960s with the aim to merge semiotics and ethology and to launch semiotic studies of animal communication. The foundational idea in zoosemiotics is that relations between animals and their environment as well as between different individuals are not purely physical, but are to a large extent sign-mediated. This gives a significant role to the animal subjects, and recognizes more as well as higher forms of complexity in animals than previously assumed. A lot has happened since the concept of zoosemiotics was proposed: the rise of biosemiotics and cognitive ethology are two among the many important developments in the field of animal communication studies. Continue reading