Call for papers

Special Issue: “Can quantitative approaches develop bio/semiotic theory?”

Guest Editors: Ludmila Lackova and Dan Faltynek

Neuer InhaltIt is natural to perceive semiotics as a discipline with a qualitative approach. Essential semiotic works by e.g. Ch. S. Peirce, F. de Saussure or U. Eco are completely free from the use of quantitative methodology. From the pages of any semiotic outline, it is evident that on the basic level of semiotic description – as in the case of sign properties or sign typology – quantity seems to be unusable. When considering the combination of semiotic theory and quantitative methods, one may first recall semiotic applications in neuroscience (Compagno 2018). For such approaches, semiotics plays the role of a provider of concepts and terminology, but without any reciprocal relation to semiotic theory. These types of quantitative semiotic analysis are also often used for commercial purposes (advertising, brand analysis).

The area of biosemiotics extends the interest of semiotics further from culturally shared codes to the entire environment in which there are living beings and systems beyond humans. The scope of biosemiotics encompasses a wide range of phenomena which we relate to by way of our semiotic experience with human language, cultural customs, or visual signs. In this transition from human to environmental we are often uncertain about our judgment, as our natural semiotic intuition might begin to fail. At this point the quantitative aspect of semiotics proves to be completely self-evident: apt examples of quantitative investigations of semiotic qualities are e.g. the disclosure of junk DNA function (Mantegna et al. 1995), language properties of DNA overlapping codes (Popov et al. 1996, Trifonov – Berezovsky 2002), and language laws in animal communication (Ferrer‐i‐Cancho et al. 2013). This way of verifying theoretical assumptions in areas with an uncertain semiotic description seems to be a unique and optimal way to combine quality and quantity in semiotics (see also Eroglu 2014, Torre et al. 2019). We are confronted with a number of problems regarding the interplay of quality and quantity as we often have no clear explanation of the quantitative characteristics of the phenomena, like in the case of language laws (Piantadosi 2014) – or we use nonspecific explanations like economization (Zipf 1949). Can we even so consider quantification as a principle of quality assurance?

The key question is this: Are there any ways of combining both qualitative and quantitative aspects of phenomena in semiotic and biosemiotic research, other than commercial application of semiotic theory and experimental testing of the validity of theories?

We are now calling for papers, and will be glad to read your contribution on connected topics.

Relevant article types include Original research (max. 9000 words) and Short communication (max. 3000 words).

Due date for manuscript submission is 16 April 2021.

Please submit directly to the journal, stating in your cover letter that it is for the “Can quantitative approaches develop bio/semiotic theory?” Special Issue. Upon submission, you will be asked if your manuscript is for a special issue. Please answered "Yes" and select the name of the Special Issue in the drop down menu. 

You can email your pre-submission queries to Sarah Shokouhbeen ( Please get in touch with us in case you need more time to prepare your paper for submission and we will discuss a possible extension.