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Unfolding the Semiotic Web in Urban Discourse

In Scientific Cooperation with Daina Teters


Edited By Zdzislaw Wasik

The main focus of this volume is on urbanity as a discursive way of human life in the city. Discourse is specified here in terms of semiotic codes and processes that link city dwellers as communicating selves into interpersonal and intersubjective collectivities when they create and interpret similar meanings embodied in material bearers. Accordingly, the unfolding of the semiotic web is understood, firstly, as detecting and evaluating the growth and manifestation of the sphere of meaning-bearers or a sequence of meaning-bearing events, and secondly, as identifying and explaining the constituents and aspects of discourse in the light of signs and/or sign-processes that aggregate individual participants of communication into discursive linkages on a lower level and discursive communities – on a higher level of social grouping. Some contributions deal with the discursive properties of human individuals in urban environments, and some others are devoted either to the meta-discourses on the city or discourses in the city.


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Daina Teters: Imaginary architecture and the verbal description of emptiness: Paths, roads, and streets – a research communiqué 181


Daina Teters LATVIAN ACADEMY OF CULTURE IN RIGA Imaginary architecture and the verbal description of emptiness: Paths, roads, and streets – a research communiqué1 The following presentation aims at providing some inspiration sources for students and young researchers who might be interested in answering the questions of how the human perception of emptiness and the delimitation of space in urban environments have influenced the dif- ferentiation of world views that are encountered in various languages spoken in the European Union. To explain my position having been elaborated at one of the subsequent international congresses of semiotics2 as well as in my earlier studies on the verbalization of center and periph- ery concepts (cf. Teters 2009 and 2010), I would like to depart here from the statement that, in the beginning, human beings were not conscious of the nonexistence of emptiness: the World seemed to be full, loud and chaotic. The presence of human beings on earth was described fairly sim- ply: as a kind of similarity between the human being and the Earth. Start- ing with Xenophanes (a Greek philosopher, ca 570–ca 480 B.C.), how- ever, it gained a new meaning to refer to the inhabited world, as well as a new sound (oikouménē) or Ekumene (also spelled œcumene or oik- 1 The research results summarized here have been published by the author in an arti- cle (Teters 2010) and subsequently presented in a German paper: Daina Teters: Imaginative Architektur und Verbale Beschreibung der Leere: Wege und Strassen...

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