intersemiotic translation

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Visual Essay
Fatema Bahrami


Sign Categories Used in Islamic-Theosophical-Oriented Persian Carpets and the Order of Their Inter-semiotic Translation into Persian
DOI 10.1515/mc-2015-0006

Abstract:  Inter-semiotic translation is a main type of translation which is offered by Jakobson (1959) as “an interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of non-verbal sign systems” (p. 233).

As an attempt to indicate the practical process of inter-semiotic translation,  the present case study has purposively selected the designs of two Persian carpets (Arab Jinni and Shiraz) as the sample of inter-semiotic translation.

Such designs are believed to be composed of various meaningful motifs and signs, and besides their highly aesthetic aspects, the design of Persian carpets are regarded as a powerful medium of transferring Iranian culture and ideology
(Gurangi and Sajjadi, 2008; Parham, 1996).

The selected designs that belong to the recent century of Fars (province) artifacts and carry some Islamic-theosophical concept in common were admitted to three snowbally chosen carpet experts in order to be translated. The process of such intersemiotic translations were then investigated based on Peirce’s (1956) semiotics, a framework that defines a sign as “something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity” (p. 99).

Peirce (as cited in chandler, 1994) introduced three components for a sign:

the Representamen or “the form which the sign takes,” an Interpretant or “the sense made of the sign” and an Object or something “to which the sign refers” (p. 24). Moreover, Peirce (1956) categorized signs into three types: an icon which “may represent its object mainly by its similarity” (e.g. all pictures and drawings) (p. 105), an index which “is in dynamical… connection with the individual object” (e.g. a clock that shows time) (p. 107)
and a symbol which is “a Representamen whose Representative character consists precisely in its being a rule that will determine its Interpretant”
(e.g. all conventional signs) (p. 112).

The current study intends to determine whether a type of sign with more frequency is necessarily considered prior in the process of inter-semiotic translation. In other words,
the study is to find out whether there is any direct relationship between the frequency of sign categories used in the designs and the order of their inter-semiotic translation.

In this regard, processes of the translation were separately studied and the types of signs were determined with assistance of the carpet expert translators. Then the ordered processes of such translation along with the sign types were separately tabulated for each translator.

As a result, the most frequent sign types in a design were primarily considered in the process of four inter-semiotic translations while this case was not observed in two other translations.

In other words, out of six translations done on two designs by three translators,

the considered relationship was shown to be direct in four and indirect in two translations.

Keywords: inter-semiotic translation, representamen, object, interpretant


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