Semiotic alignment: Towards a dialogical model of interspecific communication

Semiotica 2019 (230):247-274 (2019)
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Abstract

Communicative interactions across different species have so far received relatively little attention from cognitive or behavioral scientists. Most research in this area views the process of communication as the adaptive interaction of manipulative signalers and information-assessing receivers. This paper discusses some shortcomings of the information/influence model of communication, particularly in the empirical study of interspecific communicative interactions. It then presents an alternative theoretical model, based on recent contributions in psycholinguistics and semiotics. The semiotic alignment model views communication as a dynamic process of joint semiosis resulting in the alignment of the interactants’ own-worlds (Umwelten). It is argued that this model can improve our understanding of communicative interactions between heterospecifics and provide the basis for future work in the empirical study of interspecific communication.

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