Publication 6210

Wu S. C. (2011) Autopoiesis and interpretive semiosis. Biosemiotics 4(3): 309–330. Fulltext at
Translation has long been viewed as ‘code-switching’ either within or between languages. Hence, most translation discussions center on its linguistic and cultural aspects. However, the fundamental mechanism of ‘translation as interpretative semiosis’ has yet to be studied with appropriate rigor. Susan Petrilli (2008) has identified ‘iconicity’ as the key that enables translative semiosis. Nevertheless, as her model is restricted to a discussion of literary translation activity in verbal sign systems, a fundamental mechanism to explain translation as interpretative semiosis is still needed. By analyzing the interactions between the source sign (the translated) and the target sign (the translatant) in the translating process, it can be discerned that Humberto Maturana’s notion of autopoiesis may provide some crucial insights into translative semiosis. By identifying the autopoietic nature of translation, that is, the interlocked structural coupling between the Translated and Translatant, translation is no longer the ‘one-to-one-correspondence’ between sign systems, but rather a recursive process of interpretation – an interpretive semiosis. Moreover, it is by this autopoietic, self-productive mechanism of translation that I would suggest translation becomes a recursive generation of new inter-connections between semiotics systems.

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