Book Reviews: On a Peircean Semiotic Turn of Semiotranslation

João Queiroz and Pedro Atã

Punctum, 4(1): 210-217, 2018
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2018.0014


The influence exerted by Peirce’s semeiotic on Translation Studies ‘has been close to nil’. Nothing has yet happened that looks like a ‘semiotic turn in translation studies’. This is surprising. Peirce’s pragmatic model of meaning as the ‘action of signs’ (semiosis) has had a deep impact on philosophy, psychology, theoretical biology, linguistics, and cognitive sciences, besides all branches of semiotics. Why is such an influence not observed in a field of studies so strongly impregnated by semiotic notions, like translation studies? How could such an influence be exerted? Douglas Robinson’s book is about these questions. His book is not a review or analysis of the reasons why a ‘semiotic turn in translation studies’ has never happened. In fact, it is mainly about Dinda Gorlée’s works. Gorlée has forged the most systematic inter-theoretical relationship between Peirce’s semeiotic and Translation Studies. Her papers and books tentatively build an initial step of a Peircean transformation in Translation Studies’ research agenda. In our opinion, if this project has not succeeded yet, Robinson’s book will not accomplish it either. Why? Because it does not explore the implications resulting from a rigorous mapping between fundamental premises, problems, methods and models delineating the research domains. Even so, Douglas Robinson’s book is an important and necessary work to understand the difficulties involved in this project. His main ideas regarding the possibility of an inter-theoretical relationship are found in chapters 1 and 4 (other chapters are presented as case studies and empirical descriptions.) In these chapters, we find (non-systematically) many of Peirce’s ideas on semiosis, phenomenological categories, abductive inference, etc. It is a good supposition that the exploration of these ideas should produce a remarkable set of unprecedented consequences (otherwise it is a useless academic cost).

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