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Thomas Sebeok

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Language: Linguistics · Semiotics · Speech


Thomas Albert Sebeok (born in Budapest, Hungary, on November 9, 1920, died December 21, 2001 in Bloomington, Indiana) was one of the most prolific and wide-ranging of US semioticians. He expanded the purview of semiotics to include non-human signaling and communication systems thus raising some of the issues addressed by philosophy of mind and coining the term "zoosemiotics". He is also the creator of biosemiotics.

Based on his field of competence Sebeok tended to reject the experiments on the putative linguistic abilities of apes, such as those described by David Premack, assuming the existence of a deeper, more universal and more meaningful underlying substrate: the “semiotic function”.

In 1944, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

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