Animal Communication

Science  26 Feb 1965:
Vol. 147, Issue 3661, pp. 1006-1014
DOI: 10.1126/science.147.3661.1006


Semiotics and ethology have converged in a new behavioral science, zoosemiotics. Those who are interested in the theoretical analysis of the complex problems of non-verbal behavior that arise where these two disciplines interact aim to treat comprehensively animal communication systems by the aid of representations that have proved illuminating in the study of sentences of human language. Students of zoosemiotics are concerned with codes and messages much as linguists are concerned with competence, or language, and performance, or speech. They thus face the twin tasks of constructing a model for the addresser to specify how a message is encoded and transformed into a signal carried by a variety of channels to the addressee; and of constructing a model for the addressee to specify the ways in which animals utilize their knowledge of their code to recognize the messages they receive. Finally, they assess the context of the communicative event in the hope of dissecting that which is relevant to the selection process from the rest of the background, a program for which there is as yet neither a procedural eliciting technique nor a satisfactory theoretical solution in sight.