Aspects of the Ongoing Debate on Animal Communication. (Zoo)semiotics and Cognitive Ethology

  • Stefano GensiniEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 23)


After a flashback on the history of zoosemiotics, the paper focuses on the way the “embodied” paradigm of post 1980s cognitivism helped renew the debate on animal communication. It is suggested that research on alarm-signals in vervet monkeys and other species encouraged closer relations between communication studies and the philosophy of mind, then giving rise to a “referential functionality” theory which attenuated the mentalistic assumptions of the beginning. Today the traditional dichotomy between symbolic and emotional features of animal communication is being gradually replaced by a pragmatic perspective that sees them as complementary and mutually integrated. The abandonment of the chomskyan view of language as disembodied and merely symbolic is increasingly emerging as the preliminary step towards a unitary reconsideration of human and non-human communication systems.


Animal communication Ethology Semiotics Embodiment Alarm-signals Functions of language 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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