Obituary: Roland Posner (1939-2020)

By Veronika Opletalová & Martin Siefkes

Roland Posner (1939-2020) was a German semiotician who has been a major influence in both linguistics (pragmatics, text linguistics) and semiotics in Germany since the 1970s. He is recognized for his scientific work as much as for his editorial and organizational activities. From 1975 to 2010, Posner was professor of linguistics and semiotics at the University of Technology Berlin, where he established the Research Center for Semiotics. He co-founded the German Association for Semiotic Studies (DGS) and established and edited the academic journal Zeitschrift für Semiotik. From 1994 to 2004 he served as president of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS). In 1998, Posner organized one of the first international conferences on gesture studies, where he made the proposal to establish the ISGS (International Society of Gesture Studies) and the journal Gesture. Posner therefore played a seminal role in the institutionalization of gesture studies.

Posner has developed a number of new approaches and theories, which he usually published in the form of articles which are sometimes quite technical and densely argued. His work is therefore not easily accessible, but it covers a surprising range of topics and is always highly original. He draws on a number of traditions, most importantly the Logical Empiricism of Rudolf Carnap and the Vienna Circle, the semiotics of Charles W. Morris (whose works he translated into German), the various schools of European structuralism (especially Hjelmslev, Jakobson and Riffaterre), as well as the semiotics of culture of Juri Lotman. He is also well-versed in formalization, as witnessed by his doctoral dissertation with its analytical approach, a method which he continued to employ flexibly in later theories, some of which are partly formalized.


His early work applied semiotic categories and structuralist methods to literary analysis, contributing to the burgeoning field of text linguistics in the 1970s. Posner soon developed a general approach to semiotics as an interdisciplinary field, including a pluralistic understanding of its many schools (most of which come with their own sign model), its methods, and its relationship to individual disciplines such as linguistics, literary and design studies, musicology, and many others. He outlined this systematic approach to semiotics in a proposal for a handbook (Posner 1980g) which was later to become the 4-volume Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture (1997-2004), edited in cooperation with Klaus Robering und Thomas A. Sebeok. Posner also published a groundbreaking reconstruction of communication which starts from basic semiotic terminology, and connects it with Grice’s intention-based theory of communication as well as Searle’s speech act theory. Apart from these contributions to theoretical semiotics, Posner has researched a number of specific sign systems, for example in a comparative analysis of numeral systems, papers in culinary semiotics, a general theory of images, and an approach to gestures combining anthropological with semiotic considerations, which in some respects anticipates Michael Tomasello’s thoughts on gesture and intentionality. In the late 1980s, he began to develop a general semiotic theory of culture which links the ideas of Juri Lotman with Posner’s own extensive research on the role of signs in many cultural areas, and published it in a series of articles which have been widely translated by his contemporaries.

An extended version with bibliography will appear shortly in the Semiotics Encyclopedia Online.


As SEO is being redesigned, we are pleased to feature in SemiotiX the forthcoming long entry on Roland Posner by Veronika Opletalová & Martin Siefkes.


Long entry



Roland Posner was born in Prague in 1942. After the Second World War his family moved to the Bavarian city of Landshut. In 1954, he became student at the Leibniz Gymnasium in Düsseldorf, receiving his Abitur (a degree that is comparable to the British A-levels) in 1962 (cf. Posner 2009b: 125). During this period, he spent several months in Great Britain, which gave him a good working knowledge of English which enabled him to translate most of his own works into English, as well as to do scientific translations from English into German (for example of essays by Charles Morris, cf. Morris 1972).


His university studies included courses in philosophy, comparative literature, linguistics, and communication theory at the universities of Bonn, Berlin and Munich. Among his teachers in Bonn were Leo Weisgerber and Gerold Ungeheuer. During a visiting semester at the University of Munich, he took classes on a philosophy of science given by Wolfgang Stegmüller and Franz von Kutschera with special emphasis on the Vienna Circle. He became part of the discussion circle “Arbeitskreis für einzelwissenschaftliche Methodenfragen” (‘Circle for the Study of Methodological Questions in the Individual Disciplines’), formed by Stegmüller’s students, where he met Eike von Sauvigny, among others (cf. Posner 2009b: 126; Posner and Krampen 1981: 176). He also established contacts with Rudolf Carnap. He finished his studies in Bonn in 1967. His master’s thesis investigated how linguistic tools used in literary interpretations have changed over the last 200 years (see below).

In 1968 Posner moved to Berlin. In 1972, he received a doctoral degree in linguistics from the University of Technology Berlin. In his doctoral dissertation, he developed a formal theory that investigated syntactical and morphological aspects of comments (e.g. that-constructions or negations). It was published under the title Theorie des Kommentierens (‘A Theory of Commenting’, Posner 21980d). In 1973, he received his habilitation in linguistics, general literature, and philosophy of language. In 1973 he was guest professor at Hamburg University. In 1975, he was appointed to a chair as professor of linguistics and semiotics at the University of Technology Berlin.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Posner was a central influence for the German semiotics community; he played a leading role in the institutionalization of semiotics in Germany and participated in a number of important conferences and publication projects. In 1975, he organized the first international conference of semiotics ever held in Germany (the proceedings were published as Posner and Reinecke 1977). During this conference, it was decided to create the German Association for Semiotic Studies (DGS). At the same time, Posner started the archive of semiotics at the University of Technology Berlin which was later transferred to the University of the Arts (Universität der Künste Berlin). In 1979 he established the academic quarterly Zeitschrift für Semiotik which was soon adopted as official organ by the newly founded DGS. The journal primarily publishes thematic issues, some of which led to book projects (e.g. the first issue on semiotic classics of the 20th century as well as the issue 5 (1984) on communication with the future, see below). All materials serving in the preparation of the journal have been stored in the archive of semiotics.

In the middle of the 1970s Posner and Martin Krampen joined in,  developing an organizational basis for regular meetings called  Berliner Arbeitskreis für Semiotik (‘Berlin Circle of Semiotics’, cf. Posner and Krampen 1981: 179), later called “Berliner Arbeitskreis für Kultursemiotik” (BAKS). This circle was frequented by Günter Bentele, Peter Reinecke, Marlene Landsch, and later by Jürgen Trabant and others. The circle first concentrated on the study of semiotic classics such as Charles S. Peirce, Jakob von Uexküll and Charles W. Morris, which led to the first issue of Zeitschrift für Semiotik (cf. Posner 1979a, b) and to the influential book Die Welt als Zeichen: Klassiker der modernen Semiotik (cf. Krampen, Oehler, Posner and von Uexküll 1981, English translation Classics of Semiotics, 1987). Umberto Eco and Thomas A. Sebeok were among the contributers to this important volume. Posner wrote his contribution on Charles Morris, whom he had met in Florida in 1975.

Since the late 1970s Posner also conducted various international research activities. He was guest professor at the Université de Montréal (1977), taught at Linguistic and Semiotic Summer Institutes in Salzburg, Tunis, Toronto, Lisbon, Mysore, São Paulo and Lund. From 1986 to 1987 he spent an academic year as a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Wassenaar, where he developed his semiotic theory of culture (Posner 1989a, 2003d, 2004a).

Posner was also active in the Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS-AIS). In September 1979 he organized an International Meeting on Systematics, History and Terminology of Semiotics at the University of Technology Berlin, which was attended by leading members of the IASS-AIS (e.g. Thomas A. Sebeok, Umberto Eco and Paul Bouissac). The participants of the Berlin meeting discussed the lack of lexica, handbooks, and other general publications that would give an overview and provide “working tools” for semioticians of all schools (cf. Veranstaltungen 1980: 159f.). In order to improve the situation, it was decided to tackle three publication projects: a lexicon of semiotic terminology; an encyclopedic dictionary documenting all information necessary for semiotic research and a comprehensive handbook of semiotics. All three proposals have since been realized in some form. The lexicon was published, albeit under the title “handbook”, by Winfried Nöth (Handbuch der Semiotik 1985, several German and English editions). The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics was edited by Thomas Sebeok (1986, three volumes); Posner served as a member of the editorial board of this dictionary. Posner took it upon himself to edit the comprehensive handbook Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture which appeared in four volumes (Posner, Robering and Sebeok 1997–2004, see below).

Between 1984 and 1994 Roland Posner served as Vice-president and later on (1994-2004) as President of the International Association for Semiotic Studies.

In the 1990s Posner became interested in urban photography and organized several exhibitions of his works. He also developed approaches for showing how photographs can function as means of interpretations in the arts and science. One decade later, he built on these experiences when he set out to sketch a general semiotic approach to images of all kinds (Posner 2010c).

In the late 1990s, Posner played an important role in the institutionalization of the new field of gesture studies. Cornelia Müller tells the story on the website of the International Society of Gesture Studies (ISGS):

[I]n the Spring of 1998, […] many of those who had devoted a large part of their academic careers to gesture research gathered at the Technical University of Berlin for an ‘International Symposium on The Semantics and Pragmatics of Everyday Gestures’. On this occasion Roland Posner of Berlin put forward proposals for the institutionalization of the field of gesture studies. These were greeted with unanimous and spontaneous enthusiasm. Everyone agreed that the time seemed ripe for such an effort. The four ideas Posner proposed were taken up and the group decided to join forces in creating an international network of gesture researchers through an address list, to found an international society for gesture studies which would organize regular international conferences on gesture studies, and to launch an international journal for the field. The participants present then officially asked certain individuals to explore these ideas in more detail and elected a statutes committee which declared its willingness to discuss and formulate the statutes of the future society, asked Monica Rector (Chapel Hill) to organize the next meeting of the society in 2000 in Porto, and asked Cornelia Müller (Berlin) to compile an address list of gesture researchers, and to develop a plan for an international journal for gesture studies. (Müller undated)

Since   2010 Posner is a professor emeritus and is continuing his research at the University of Technology in Berlin. His impact on more than two generations of scholars has been documented in two “festschrift” volumes. The first one was presented to him on the occasion of his retirement in 2010 (and later published as Fricke and Voss 2012), the second one celebrated his 70th birthday in 2012 (Hess-Lüttich 2012). Since 2015 Posner has been engaged in the planning of a semiotics museum in Ulm (called Haus der Zeichen – ‘House of Signs’) that will document past research and current trends, focusing on the role which signs play in the cultural practices of everyday life.


Overview of Posner’s Works


Early Approaches to Poetics, Text Linguistics and Pragmatics


Posner’s early approaches to linguistics have been published in a series of German and English articles and partially collected in English in the book Rational Discourse and Poetic Communication (Posner 1982).

The article “Sprachliche Mittel literarischer Interpretation. Zweihundert Jahre Goethe-Philologie” (“Linguistic Tools of Literary Interpretation – As Exemplified in the Two Centuries of Goethe Criticism”, Posner 1980a, 1982: 161-185) builds on results from Posner’s master’s thesis from 1967. It proposes a systematic linguistic description of the relationship between a literary text (Goethe’s famous poem “An den Mond”) and the dozens of interpretations of it that have been produced by philologists. Posner’s conclusion is that literary interpretations are produced by applying a limited number of linguistic transformations (such as generalization or demetaphorization) to the original poetic text. This daring article, albeit certainly original in its content, can be regarded as typical for the irreverent attitude towards philology, and its far-reaching claims of depth and intuitive understanding, that prevailed in the 1960s at German universities.

In 1969, the article “Strukturalismus in der Gedichtinterpretation – Textdeskription und Rezeptionsanalyse am Beispiel von Baudelaires Les chats” (“Structuralism in the Interpretation of Poetry – Text Description and Reader Response: Baudelaire’s Les chats, Engl. Version Posner 1982: 128-159)  was published. It builds on Roman Jakobson’s und Lévi-Strauss’ famous take on the sonnet Les chats from the Fleurs du mal, one of the most influential structuralist interpretations of poetry. Posner investigates paradigmatic relations such as phonemic regularities as well as syntagmatic relations between, for example, the phonological and the semantic level. He shows that these correspondences are not arbitrary, but are used as a structuring device: different parts of the poem are characterized by different types of equivalence relations. Poetry, therefore, can be understood as producing systematic relations between different levels of language – such as phonology or graphology, morphology, and semantics –, providing a holistic experience that everyday language doesn’t. The article goes on to propose a new approach to textual analysis that allows for the description of supra-sentential structures not covered by contemporary text linguistics.

Posner’s doctoral dissertation, first published as Theorie des Kommentierens (‘A Theory of Commenting’) in 1972, also focuses on text linguistics, which was at the time a new and highly productive research area. Based on a formal description of direct and indirect comments, the book investigates comments – assertions that directly or indirectly refer to aspects of previous assertions by another speaker – in their syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic properties, elucidating the principle of “communicative relevance” on the basis on what parts of sentences can, and what cannot, be directly commented (Posner 21980d: 156-8). Interestingly, this theory predates Dan Sperber’s and Deirdre Wilsons’s relevance theory (1986) by more than a decade. The precise relations between both theories remain to be investigated.

It is also noteworthy that Posner (21980d) may have been the first theory to propose a formalised description of pragmatic principles; formal systems had previously been developed for syntactic (Chomsky 1957) and semantic (Montague 1973) structures.

In a further strand of early work in text and discourse linguistics, Posner investigates semiotic principles in syntactic relations. In the article “Ikonismus in der Syntax. Zur natürlichen Stellung der Attribute” (“Iconicity in Syntax: The Natural Order of Attributes”), Posner (1980f, Engl. Version 1982: 49-85) demonstrates that the order of attributes in a noun phrase follows iconic principles. For example, the substance principle implies that greater permanence of a property is displayed by a position closer to the noun, as in the newly-bought beautiful Chinese vase: the vase cannot by definition lose its property of being Chinese, but it may become less beautiful, and will necessarily lose its status of being newly bought. An attribute belongs nearer to the noun if the property to which it refers is more substance-like (and therefore noun-like; think of the Latin term nomen substantivum and the German Substantiv). This principle obviously incorporates an iconic relation between syntagmatic distance, and similarity in regard to certain aspects of meaning.

Furthermore, attributes that can be nominalised – which makes them more “noun-like” in a syntactic sense – are nearer to the noun, as in the small red table vs. *the red small table (cf. such a nice red! vs. *such a nice small!). The properties displayed in these two principles are semantic and syntactic, respectively, and Posner shows that pragmatic properties play a role as well. Generally, the article argues that iconicity fundamentally influences the word order in a noun phrase.

A further paper that explores the interface between semantics and pragmatics is “Bedeutung und Gebrauch der Satzverknüpfer in den natürlichen Sprachen” (“Meaning and Use of Sentence Connectives in Natural Language”, Posner 1980c, 1982: 15-48). This impressive article shows how all the various meanings of the logical sentence connectives and and or can be explained on the basis of Grice’s relevance principle and pragmatic inferences. Posner argues for a principle of meaning minimalism (“Bedeutungsminimalismus”): since meanings stored in a lexicon increase cognitive demands for a language learner, we may assume that they will be minimized during the evolution of a language, and contextual inference will do the rest.


Communication with the Distant Future


Posner is also known as one of the early proponents of the field of nuclear semiotics. In 1981, the US government formed the Human Interference Task Force. Thomas A. Sebeok was asked to participate in it, and wrote one of the chapters of the commission’s final report (Sebeok 1984), in which he asked the question how information can be reliably communicated across a timespan of 10,000 years. Nuclear waste makes this an acute problem, on which the health and possibly the survival of humanity may depend in the distant future.

The problem is anything but trivial, given the rapidity of cultural change. Historiography only goes back a few thousand years, and the oldest human writing systems, such as cuneiform script, are just 5000 years old. Not only the languages, but other aspects of cultures change as well: if Sumerian writers had left us a warning about a very real, but invisible danger such as radiation, it could be surmised that the few experts who can read their cuneiform script might misunderstand them as eschatological texts or myths.

Posner took Sebeok’s idea seriously; he realized that these questions opened up a new field of semiotic research, which was later called “Atomsemiotik” (“nuclear semiotics”). He developed a thematic issue of the Zeitschrift für Semiotik. The Wikipedia describes Posner’s take on the problem, outlined in his introduction to this issue:

Three parts of any communication about nuclear waste must be conveyed to posterity: 1. that it is a message at all 2. that dangerous material is stored in a given location 3. information about the type of dangerous substances. […] To determine how to convey these three things, the Zeitschrift für Semiotik (Tübingen, Germany) issued a poll in 1982 and 1983 asking how a message might be communicated for a duration of 10,000 years. The poll asked the following question: “How would it be possible to inform our descendants for the next 10,000 years about the storage locations and dangers of radioactive waste?” leading to the following answers. […] (; 20.08.2017)

In five articles, different solutions were proposed by Thomas A. Sebeok, Stanisław Lem. Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri, Vilmos Voigt, and Emil Kowalski. It seems that Posner was not yet fully satisfied with the range of answers, because he sent out a call for an edited volume (Posner 1990d). In this volume, some authors such as Sebeok, Lem and Voigt republished their original ideas in a revised form, but a number of further solutions were also proposed, among them Posner’s own proposal (Posner 1990c), which builds on the assumption that democratic societies are fully able to preserve collective knowledge under certain circumstances.

Posner proposes a “three-chamber system” guaranteed by the constitution (and thus not dependent on political short-term interests). A third chamber would be added to all parliaments. Apart from the chambers with national and regional representatives, there would be a democratically elected future council (“Zukunftsrat”) which participates in the legislative process. The task of this chamber is to represent the interests of future generations. It would ensure the transmission of information about nuclear waste (its properties, radiation intensity and location) and other dangers, but it could also ensure that less waste is produced in the first place.

It is interesting that only Sebeok and Posner propose cultural solutions, while the other authors mainly discuss technological possibilities. Sebeok’s idea, which has garnered much more scientific and media attention, is to appoint an “atomic priesthood”, which would preserve the knowledge about locations and dangers of nuclear waste. The idea behind this concept is the ability of religions to conserve dogmatic knowledge over thousands of years. Sebeok’s “atomic priesthood”, however, would give highly dangerous exclusive knowledge to a small group of experts. Even if his “priesthood” would at first just be a panel of experts, it could quickly morph into an actual priesthood with immense power. Sebeok also doesn’t seem to consider the fact that dogma takes specific forms as many, if not all religions are prone to developing eschatological myths. A priesthood with the actual power to end, if not the world, then at least civilisation by spreading nuclear waste or building dirty bombs – and with the exclusive right over this knowledge – is not a very promising idea.

Notably, Posner’s is the only solution that trusts in the power of democracy, all the while proposing a significant change and update of current democratic practices and institutions. The practical potential of Posner’s idea, which has hardly gotten any attention, is stupendous: environmental, technological, and social issues, as well as problems connected with limited resources, are currently often sacrificed for the short-term goals and interests of the currently living, and voting, humans. The potential to destroy the world as a habitable planet may be the most frightening possibility connected with current political decisions. In this context, Posner’s proposal is relevant beyond the scope of the specific problems connected with atomic waste.


Semiotics of Culture


In 1989, the first of a number of papers on the semiotics of culture appeared (“What Is Culture”, cf. also Posner 2004; German papers on this topic are Posner 1992 and Posner 2003a). Posner draws on a number of anthropological works to argue for the distinction of three areas of culture. Social culture consists of the sign users, institutions, and rituals, material culture comprises the artefacts and texts of a culture, and mental culture contains the codes (sign systems) shared in a culture. On this basis, anthropological terms such as society, civilisation, artefact, instrument, and texts are defined.

Posner goes on to explain principles of cultural change on the basis of (de-)semiotization: a culture is only able to understand a “world segment” and interact with it if it possesses codes that structure it and give it meaning. The importance of a code in a culture can be determined by describing its distribution, frequency, and prestige. Some codes become central for a culture, and the artefacts produced on their basis are highly elaborated (think of the Bible and the antique mythology as the basis of much of Western painting, or of the architectural codes of Classicist architecture that even today exert their influence).

The article “Zur Systematik der Beschreibung verbaler und nonverbaler Kommunikation” (Posner 1986) proposes a semiotic clarification of the term “medium” and its many uses. It shows that “medium” is used to refer to different aspects of semiosis; a model of semiosis (drawing mainly on Jakobson) is therefore proposed that allows to integrate the various concepts into a differentiated theory of medium. In the 2003 article “Kultursemiotik” (Engl. “Basic Tasks of Cultural Semiotics”, Posner 2004a), Posner integrates both approaches, making this a foundational text for the semiotic approach in media studies.

A number of further studies that investigate specific codes and their history could be mentioned, such as the 1984 article “Die Zahlen und ihre Zeichen. Zur Geschichte und Ökonomie der Zahldarstellung“ (Engl. “The Numbers and Their Signs: History and Economy of Numeral Systems”, Posner 1997a).


In a more recent article, “Die Wahrnehmung von Bildern als Zeichenprozess” (‘The Perception of Pictures Analyzed as a Sign Process’, Posner 2010c), Posner looks at the different ways in which we use the term “image” in everyday language. On this basis, he develops a comprehensive approach to images that integrates eight different concepts of image. Posner goes on to give an account of the cognitive processes involved in the perception of images, explicating them as two different sign processes that build on each other. On this basis, a number of controversial questions are tackled, for example the status of abstract paintings, the much-disputed relationship between images and iconicity, and the question if certain natural phenomena such as cloud formations should count as images.


Theory of Communication


In 1993, Posner’s article “Believing, Causing, Intending. The Basis for a Hierarchy of Sign Concepts in the Reconstruction of Communication” appeared. This article constructs a matrix of sign processes, based on causal processes as well as basic sign types such as signal, indicator, and expression. Posner assumes that communication is always connected with beliefs and intentions, as well as with assumptions about the interlocutor’s beliefs and intentions. He goes on to reconstruct different types of communication, starting from the basic sign types (e.g. signal) and adding recursively embedded intentions and beliefs. In this way, he formally reconstructs at the five types of speech acts distinguished by Searle: declaration, directive, assertive, expressive, and commissive. In the process, he underscores Grice’s approach to communication with a detailed account of the beliefs and assumptions of the participants in a communicative process.

Posner’s classification therefore connects some well-established basic terms from semiotics with a formal reconstruction of Searle’s speech acts, based on a small number of formal predicates. He arrives at a definition of communication that is closely related to the work of Paul Grice, John Searle, Stephen Schiffer, and others who have investigated the intention-based theory of communication. This impressive approach has been applied in a number of articles and book-length studies on various types of sign processes (for example, Arielli 2005 on face-to-face communication, Siefkes 2012 on literature, Opletalová 2015 on humor and Schöps 2016 on body posture and gesture).

The approach developed in “Believing, Causing, Intending” is taken up again in “The Reagan Effect: Self-Presentation in Humans and Computers” (Posner 2000), where different aspects that are traditionally connected with the “self” of a person are investigated. Posner shows how the concepts a person has of herself, the concepts others have of her, the wishes she has in regard to herself, and those others have in regard to her, are related to each other. All of these come together in the “image” of a person (what she and others think of her).

On this basis, more complex aspects such as “image concept” (the understanding a person has of her image), “image wish” etc. can be derived. Posner argues that all these aspects together form the “self” of a person. On this basis, a formal description of “self-presentation” becomes possible. Posner argues that we only present certain aspects of ourselves (“our selves”) to others: for example, we can strive to present ourselves as we want to be, or as we assume others want us to be, or a complex mixture of both. This leads him to the captivating question under which circumstances we become something by illusion and simulation, when we start to behave as if we already were such-and-such, and finally we integrate these aspects in our self. In this way, we may become what others see in us, or what we think others see in us (even if we are mistaken). We develop our “self” on the basis of what we believe of ourselves, what others believe of us, and even what we believe others to believe of us, as well as what we want ourselves to be, what others want us to be, and what we believe others want us to be.


Editorial Activities


Posner founded and co-edited the following book series: Grundlagen der Kommunikation, later on Grundlagen der Kommunikation und Kognition / Foundations of Communication and Cognition (de Gruyter, since 1973; LIT, since 2003), Linguistische Forschungen (‘Linguistic Inquiries’, Athenaion, 1975–1983), Approaches to Semiotics (Mouton, since 1978), Probleme der Semiotik (‘Problems in Semiotics’, Stauffenburg, since 1983), and Körper, Zeichen, Kultur  /  Body, Sign, Culture (Berlin Verlag, since 1998; Weidler, since 2001).

Of specific significance is a large-scale publication project whose completion took more than two decades, namely the encyclopedic work Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture (4 vols, 1997–2004), which Roland Posner edited together with Klaus Robering und Thomas Sebeok. The handbook proposes an innovative systematization of semiotics as an interdisciplinary field, which is outlined in various overview articles and implemented in the systematic order of the articles. It covers, among other topics, the range of theories and models that have been developed in more than 2000 years of semiotic research, the different types of semiosis that can be distinguished, the methods of semiotics, and the history of semiotics in different cultures and traditions. In a number of articles, it gives an overview of current trends of semiotics, investigates semiotics as an interdisciplinary approach and its relations to other such approaches, and summarizes the semiotic research in many different individual disciplines. From its inception to its publication, it took more than two decades of dedicated work to complete this monumental work which comprises a total of 178 articles on 3800 pages.


Volume I illustrates basic claims about the tasks and borders of semiotics as discussed in Posner’s introductory contribution “Semiotics and its Presentation in this Handbook” (Posner 1997). Volume II gives a systematic account of historically prominent theoretical approaches to signs. Volume III contains a well-founded conception of the principles observed in the handbook. The epistemological foundations of the semiotics are presented in the articles “The Semiotic Reconstruction of Individual Disciplines” (Posner 2003b) und “The Relationship between Individual Disciplines and Interdisciplinary Approaches” (Posner 2003a) as far as their presentation in the handbook goes. Volume IV sketches exemplary fields of application for the semiotic analysis of the world.


Works by Roland Posner


The following bibliography of Posner’s works is based primarily on his , which has been cross-checked with other sources.


Publications in English


  1. “Poetic Communication vs. Literary Language, or: The Linguistic Fallacy in Poetics”. (Paper presented at the First Congress of the International Association of Semiotic Studies, Milan, June 2–6, 1974.) PTL: A Journal for Descriptive Poetics and Theory of Literature 1. (1-10)

1980a. “Linguistic Tools of Literary Interpretation – As Exemplified in the Two Centuries of Goethe Criticism”. In: Béla Köpeczi and György M. Vayda, eds., Actes du VIIIe Congrès de l’Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée, Budapest 1976. Stuttgart: Bieber. (805–826)

1980b. “Types of Dialogue: The Use of Microstructures in the Classification of Texts”. In Risto Hilppinen, ed., Rationality in Science. Dordrecht and Boston: Reidel. (111-135) (Also in: Discourse Processes 3, p. 381-399)


1980c. “Meaning and Use of Sentence Connectives in Natural Language”. In John R. Searle, Ferenc Kiefer, Manfred Bierwisch, eds., Speech Act Theory and Pragmatics. Dordrecht and Boston: Reidel. (169-203) (Also in: Irmengard Rauch and Gerald. F. Carr, eds., The Signifying Animal: The Grammar of Language and Experience. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 87-122.)


Posner, Roland and Martin Krampen (1981). “Semiotic Circles in Germany. From the Logic of Science to the Pragmatics of Institutions. American Journal of Semiotics, 1, 1-2. (169-212)

  1. Rational Discourse and Poetic Communication: Methods of Linguistic, Literary, and Philosophical Analysis. Berlin and New York: Mouton.


1985a. “Syntactics. Its Relation to Morphology and Syntax, to Semantics and Pragmatics, and to Syntagmatics and Paradigmatics”. In Thomas T. Ballmer and Roland Posner, eds., Nach-Chomskysche Linguistik. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (247-265) (Summarized in: Thomas A. Sebeok, ed., Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1986. Vol. II, p. 1042-1061.)


1986a. “Design for a Handbook of Semiotics”. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (1-12, flyer)

1986b. “Iconicity in Syntax: The Natural Order of Attributes. In Paul Bouissac, Michael Herzfeld, Roland Posner, eds., Iconicity: Essays on the Nature of Culture. Festschrift for Thomas A. Sebeok on His 65th Birthday. Tübingen: Stauffenburg. (305-337)

1986c. “Charles William Morris: A Summary of His Thought”. In Arbeitspapiere zur Linguistik 12. (124-139) (Also in: Thomas A. Sebeok, ed., Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. I, p. 565-571.)


1987a. “Charles W. Morris and the Behavioral Foundations of Semiotics”. In Martin Krampen et al., eds., Classics of Semiotics. New York and London: Plenum. (23-57)

1987b. “Interim Questions in Schema Research”. In Hans W. Dechert and Michael Raupach, eds., Psycholinguistic Models of Production. Norwood: Ablex. (245-248)

1987c. “Semiotics Today”. In Achim Eschbach and Walter A. Koch, eds., A Plea for Cultural Semiotics. Bochum: Brockmeyer. (132-145)


1988a. “What is an Academic Discipline?” In Regine Claussen and Roland Daube-Schackat, eds., Gedankenzeichen. Festschrift für Klaus Oehler zum 60. Geburtstag. Tübingen: Stauffenburg. (165-185)

1988b. “The Epistemological Status of Semiotics and the Task of a Semiotic Handbook: Eight Theses”. In Amy Mandelker et al., eds., Semiotics and the Arts. Festschrift in Honor of Thomas G. Winner. (125-130)

1988c. “Semiotics versus Anthropology: Alternatives in the Explication of ‘Culture’”. In Henri Broms and Rebecca Kaufmann, eds., Semiotics of Culture. Helsinki: Arator. (151-184)

1988d. “Balance of Complexity and Hierarchy of Precision: Two Principles of Economy in the Notation of Language and Music”. In: John Deely, ed., Semiotics 1984. Dubuque: University Press of America. (171-181) Also in: Michael Herzfeld and Lucio Melazzo, eds., Semiotic Theory and Practice. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (909-920)


1989a. “The Place of Iconicity in Communication”. In Livstegn 7. (92-98)

1989b. “Culture and Semiotics”. In Walter A.  Koch, ed., Culture and Semiotics. Bochum: Brockmeyer. (38-43)


1989c. “What is Culture? Toward a Semiotic Explication of Anthropological Concepts”. In Walter A. Koch, ed., The Nature of Culture. Bochum: Brockmeyer. (240-295)


1990a. “What is Pragmatics?” In Arbeiten zur deskriptiven und theoretischen Linguistik. Arbeitspapiere zur Linguistik 25. (1-50)

1990b. “From Natural Signal to Human Communication: A Typology of Sign Processes”. In  Jerold A. Edmonson, Crawford Feagin, Peter Mühlhäusler, eds., Development and Diversity: Language Variation across Time and Space. A Festschrift for C.-J. Bailey. Arlington: University of Texas Press. (639-646)


1991a. “Society, Civilization, Mentality: Prolegomena to a Language Policy for Europe”. In Florian Coulmas, ed., A Language Policy for the European Community. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. (121-138)

1991b. “Syntactics, Semantics, and Pragmatics Revisited Half a Century after Their Introduction by Charles W. Morris”. In Michel Balat, Janice Deledalle-Rhodes and Gérard Deledalle, eds., L’homme et ses signes. Berlin and New York: Mouton. (1349-1354)

1991c. “Research in Pragmatics after Morris”. In Michel Balat, Janice Deledalle-Rhodes, Gérard Deledalle, eds., L’homme et ses signes. Berlin and New York: Mouton. (1383-1420)


1992a. “Good-bye, Lingua Teutonica? Language, Culture and Science in Europe on the Threshold of the 21st Century. A Conversation”. In Target 4, 2. (145-192)


1992b. “Origins and Development of Contemporary Syntactics”. Languages of Design 1. (37-50) (Shortened version of 1985a.)

  1. “Believing, Causing, Intending: The Basis for a Hierarchy of Sign Concepts in the Reconstruction of Communication”. In René J. Jorna, Barend van Heusden and Roland Posner, eds., Signs, Search and Communication: Semiotic Aspects of Artificial Intelligence. Berlin – New York: Walter de Gruyter. (215–270)

1995a. “Humans as Signs: Iconic and Indexical”. In Christiane Pankow, ed., Indexicality: Papers from the Symposium “Indexikala Tecken”, Göteborg, November 1995: SSKKII Report 9604. (97–117)

1995b. “Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, Postsemiotics? Sign Theory at the fin de siècle”. In Cruzeiro Semiotico 22-25. (51-74)

1997a. “The Numbers and Their Signs: History and Economy of Numeral Systems”. In Key Yamanaka and Toshio Ohori, eds., The Locus of Meaning. Papers in Honor of Yoshihiko Ikegami. Tokio: Kurosio Publishers. (3-16)

1997b. “Semiotics and Its Presentation in This Handbook”. In Roland Posner, Klaus Robering, Thomas A. Sebeok, eds., Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. 1. (1-14)

1997c. “Pragmatics”. In Roland Posner, Klaus Robering, Thomas A. Sebeok, eds., Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. 1. (219-246)

1997d. “The Self and Its Presentation in Humans and Computers”. In Irmengard Rauch and Gerald F. Carr, eds., Semiotics around the World: Synthesis in Diversity. Berlin and New York, Mouton de Gruyter. (793-796)

Roland Posner and Klaus Robering, 1997. “Syntactics”. In Roland Posner, Klaus Robering, Thomas A. Sebeok, eds., Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. 1. (14–83)

1999a. “Number Representation” and “Pragmatics”. In Paul Bouissac, ed., Encyclopedia of Semiotics. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. (453-457 and 515-517)


1999b. “Fighting Semiotic Pollution in Europe: Dutch and German-Speaking Semiotic Communities in the 20th Century”. In Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich, Jürgen E. Müller, Art van Zoest, eds., Culture, Signs, Space/Raum, Zeichen, Kultur – An International Conference on the Semiotics of Space and Culture in Amsterdam. Tübingen: Narr. (381-395)


Posner, Roland and Dagmar Schmauks (1999). “Means of Orientation in a Chaotic World. The Intentionality of Objects and their Representation in Pictures”. In Lucia Santaella and Irene Machado, eds., Caos e Ordem na Mídia, Cultura e Sociedade. Sao Paulo: FAPESP (17-39).


2000a. “Semiotic Pollution: Deliberations towards an Ecology of Signs”. In Sign Systems Studies 28. (290-308)


2000b. “The Reagan Effect: Self-presentation in Humans and Computers”. In Semiotica 128, 3-4. (445-486)


2001a. “Everyday Gestures as a Result of Ritualization”. In Linguistic Agency, University of Essen LAUD. Series A, General and Theoretical, Paper No. 570. (1-21) Also in: Monica Rector, Isabella Poggi and Nadine Trigo, eds., Gestures: Meaning and Use. Porto: Edições Universidade Fernando Pessoa. (217-230)


2002a. “The Semiotic Mechanism of Culture”. In International Journal of Applied Semiotic Studies 3,1. (65-75)


2003a. “The Relationship between Individual Disciplines and Interdisciplinary Approaches”. In Roland Posner, Klaus Robering, Thomas A. Sebeok, eds., Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol.  III. (2341-2374)

2003b. “The Semiotic Reconstruction of Individual Disciplines”. In: Roland Posner, Klaus Robering, Thomas A. Sebeok, eds., Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. III. (2562-2569)

2003c. “Sign Economy in Language and Related Sign Systems”. Linguistic Agency, University of Essen LAUD. Series A: General and Theoretical, Nr. 574. (1-25)


Posner, Roland and Dagmar Schmauks (2003). “Synaesthesia: Physiological Diagnosis, Practice of Perception, Art Program. A Semiotic Re-analysis”. Linguistic LAUD Agency, Series A: General & Theoretical Papers, Nr. 578. Universität Duisburg-Essen.


2004a. “Basic Tasks of Cultural Semiotics”. In Gloria Withalm and Josef Wallmannsberger, eds., Signs of Power – Power of Signs. Essays in Honor of Jeff Bernard. Vienna: INST. (56-89)


2007a. “Micro-Installations in Focus”. In Haim Chanin, ed., Objects and Lenses – Reclaimed Focus. New York: Haim Chanin Fine Arts. (1-14)

2009a. “Eight Historical Paradigms of the Human Sciences”. In Kalevi Kull, Valter Lang and Tiina Peil, eds., The Space of Culture – the Place of Nature in Estonia and Beyond. Tartu: Tartu University Press.

2010a. “Literary Interpretation as a Sign Process: Applying Linguistic Tools to the Analysis of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Poem ‘An den Mond’”. In Zdisław Wąsik, ed., Consultant Assembly III Search of Innovatory Subjects for Language and Culture Courses. Wrocław: Philological School of Higher Education in Wrocław. (75–98)

2010b. “The Metropolis as a Giant Hall of Mirrors”. In Daina Teters, ed., Metamorphoses of the World: Traces, Shadows, Reflections, Echoes and Metaphors. Riga: Nr.1 Publishers.


Publications in German and other languages

  1. “Strukturalismus in der Gedichtinterpretation – Textdeskription und Rezeptionsanalyse am Beispiel von Baudelaires ‘Les chats’”. In Sprache im technischen Zeitalter 29. (27-58). Extended version in Jens Ihwe, ed., Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik – Ergebnisse und Perspektiven. Frankfurt a.M.: Athenäum 1971. Vol. II/1. (224-266)

1970a. “Strukturbeschreibung und Beschreibungsstruktur in einer Phrasenstrukturgrammatik”. In Dieter Wunderlich, ed., Fortschritte der Transformationsgrammatik. München: Hueber. (72-86)

1970b. “Die kommunikative Funktion oberflächensyntaktischer Erscheinungen – Vorschlag eines Forschungsprojekts”. In Papers in Linguistics. Technische Universität Berlin.

  1. “Redekommentierung”. Radio Transmission in the Section “Linguistic Pragmatics” of the Quadriga Radio College on Language, 4 plus 14 pages. Published in Funk-Kolleg Sprache. Eine Einführung in die moderne Linguistik. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. Vol. 2. (124-132)

1972a. “Dialogsorten – Die Verwendung von Mikrostrukturen zur Textklassifizierung”. In Elisabeth Gülich and Wolfgang Raible, eds., Textsorten – Differenzierungskriterien aus linguistischer Sicht. Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum. (183-197)

1972b. “Statt eines Vorworts”. Introduction to the translation of Charles W. Morris, Grundlagen der Zeichentheorie; Ästhetik und Zeichentheorie. München: Hanser. (7-13)

  1. “Linguistische Poetik”. In Hans P. Althaus, Helmut Henne and Herbert E. Wiegand, eds., Lexikon der Germanistischen Linguistik. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 2nd. edition 1980. (687-697)
  2. “Diskurs als Mittel der Aufklärung – Zur Theorie der rationalen Kommunikation bei Habermas und Albert”. In Marlis Gerhardt, ed., Linguistik und Sprachphilosophie. München: List. (280-303)

1977a. “Semiotische Paradoxien in der Sprachverwendung – Am Beispiel von Sternes Tristram Shandy”. In Roland Posner and Hans-Peter Reinecke, eds., Zeichenprozesse – Semiotische Forschung in den Einzelwissenschaften. Wiesbaden: Athenaion. (109-128)

1977b. “Semiotische Forschung in den Einzelwissenschaften. Einführung in das Programm des Semiotischen Kolloquiums”. In Roland Posner and Hans-Peter Reinecke, eds., Zeichenprozesse – Semiotische Forschung in den Einzelwissenschaften. Wiesbaden: Athenaion. (3-12)

  1. “Syntaktische Beobachtungen zur Kommunikation über Angst und Furcht im Deutschen”. In Papers in Linguistics. Technische Universität Berlin. (1-26)

1979a. “Zur Einleitung. Editorial für eine neue Zeitschrift”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 1, 1. (1-6)

1979b. “Charles W. Morris und die verhaltenstheoretische Grundlegung der Semiotik”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 1, 1. (49-79)

1979c. “Bedeutung und Gebrauch der Satzverknüpfer in den natürlichen Sprachen”. In Günter Grewendorf, ed., Sprechakttheorie und Semantik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. (345-384)

1979d. “Bedeutungsmaximalismus und Bedeutungsminimalismus in der Beschreibung von Satzverknüpfern”. In Harald Weydt, ed., Die Partikeln der deutschen Sprache. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (378-394)

1980d. Theorie des Kommentierens: Eine Grundlagenstudie zur Semantik and Pragmatik. Revised 2nd edition. Wiesbaden: Athenaion.

1980e. “Ikonismus in den natürlichen Sprachen”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 2, 1-2. (1-6)

1980f. “Ikonismus in der Syntax. Zur natürlichen Stellung der Attribute”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 2, 1-2. (57-82)

1980g. “Ein Vorschlag zur Konzeption eines Handbuchs für Semiotik”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 2, 1-2. (89-93)

  1. “Die verhaltenstheoretischen Grundlagen der Semiotik bei Morris und Mead”. In Annemarie Lange-Seidl, ed., Zeichenkonstitution – Akten des zweiten Semiotischen Kolloquiums Regensburg 1978. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (101-114)

1983a. “Sprache – Schriftsprache – Plansprache”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 5, 4. (311-329)

1983b. “Kodes als Zeichen”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 5, 4. (401-408)

1984a. “Die Zahlen und ihre Zeichen. Zur Geschichte und Ökonomie der Zahldarstellung”. In Klaus Oehler, ed., Zeichen und Realität. Tübingen:  Stauffenburg. Vol. 1. (235-247)

1984b. “Sprachliche Mittel literarischer Interpretation: Zweihundert Jahre Goethe-Philologie”. In Hans-W. Eroms and Hartmut Laufhütte, eds., Vielfalt der Perspektiven: Wissenschaft und Kunst in der Auseinandersetzung mit Goethes Werk. Passau: Passavia Unversitäts-Verlag. (179-206)

1984c. “Mitteilungen an die ferne Zukunft: Hintergrund, Anlass, Problemstellung und Resultate einer Umfrage”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 6, 3. (195-228)

1984d. “Vom Russischen Formalismus zur Glossematik. Europäische Semiotiker der Zwischenkriegszeit”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 6, 4. (383-395)

1985b. “Nonverbale Zeichen in öffentlicher Kommunikation (Einleitung)”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 7, 3. (153-154)

1985c. “Nonverbale Zeichen in öffentlicher Kommunikation. Zu Geschichte und Gebrauch der Begriffe ‚verbal‘ und ‚nonverbal‘, ‚Interaktion‘ und ‚Kommunikation‘, ‚Publikum‘ und ‚Öffentlichkeit‘, ‚Medium‘, ‚Massenmedium‘ und ‚multimedial‘”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 7, 3. (235-271)

1985d. “Nach-Chomskysche Linguistik”. In Thomas T. Ballmer and Roland Posner, eds., Nach-Chomskysche Linguistik: Neuere Arbeiten von Berliner Linguisten. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (3-35)

1986d. “Zur Systematik der Beschreibung verbaler und nonverbaler Kommunikation: Semiotik als Propädeutik der Medienanalyse”. In Hans-G. Bosshardt, ed., Perspektiven auf Sprache: Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zum  Gedenken an Hans Hörmann. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (267-313)

1986e: “Semiotik im Lande Saussures (Einleitung)”. Zeitschrift für Semiotik 8, 1-2. (3-5)

1987d. “Good-bye, lingua teutonica? Sprache, Kultur und Wissenschaft an der Schwelle zum 21. Jahrhundert (Ein Tischgespräch)”. In: Tilmann Buddensieg, Kurt Düwell and Klaus-Jürgen Sembach, eds., Wissenschaften in Berlin. Berlin:  Mann-Verlag. Vol. 3. (195-207)

  1. “Metamorphosen des semiotischen Dreiecks”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 10, 3. (185-187)

1990c. “Das Drei-Kammer-System: Ein Weg zur demokratischen Organisation von kollektivem Wissen und Gewissen über Jahrtausende”. In Roland Posner, ed., Warnungen an die ferne Zukunft: Atommüll als Kommunikationsproblem. München: Raben. (259–304)

  1. “Zeichenkultur in Asien”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 13, 1-2. (3-14)
  2. “Zitat und Zitieren von Äußerungen, Ausdrücken und Kodes”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 14, 1-2. (3-16)
  3. “Semiotik diesseits und jenseits des Strukturalismus: Zum Verhältnis von Moderne und Postmoderne, Strukturalismus und Poststrukturalismus”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 15, 3-4. (211-233)

1994a. “Der Mensch als Zeichen”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 16, 3-4. (195-216)

1994b. “Texte und Kultur”. In Andreas Boehm, Andreas Mengel and Thomas Muhr, eds., Texte verstehen: Konzepte, Methoden, Werkzeuge. Konstanz: UVK. (13-31)

1995a. “Der Ort und seine Zeichen”. In Klaus Frerichs and Alexander Deichsel, eds., Der beschilderte Ort. Die dritten Lessing-Gespräche in Jork am 15. Oktober 1994. Jork: Dammann. (10-23)

1995b. “Denkmittel als Kommunikationsmittel”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 17, 3-4. (247-256)

Kowal, Sabine, Daniel C. O’Connell and Roland Posner (1995).  “Der prototypische Fußgänger. Zum Menschenbild der amtlichen Verkehrszeichen”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 17, 1-2. (151-163)

1996a. “Sprachphilosophie und Semiotik”. In Marcelo Dascal, Dietfried Gerhardus, Kuno Lorenz and Georg Meggle, eds., Sprachphilosophie: Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. (1658-1685)

1996b. “Der Reagan-Effekt: Eine semiotische Analyse von Selbstdarstellung und  Selbstwerdung”. In: Dieter Krallmann and H.Walter Schmitz, eds., Perspektiven einer Kommunikationswissenschaft. Münster: Nodus. (461-483)

  1. “Semiotische Umweltverschmutzung: Vorüberlegungen zu einer Ökologie der Zeichen”. In Günter Lobin et al., eds., Europäische Kommunikationskybernetik heute und morgen. Festschrift für Helmar Frank. Munich: KoPäd. (141-158)

Roland Posner and Dieter Münch (1998). “Morris, seine Vorgänger und Nachfolger”. In Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Vol. 2. (2204-2230)

Roland Posner and Dagmar Schmauks (1998). “Die Reflektiertheit der Dinge und ihre Darstellung in Bildern”. In Klaus Rehkämper and Klaus Sachs-Hombach, eds., Bild, Bildwahrnehmung, Bildverarbeitung. Wiesbaden: Universitätsverlag. (15-32)

Roland Posner and Borries Blanke (1998). “La pragmatique implicite dans l‘œuvre de Luis J. Prieto”. In Semiotica 122, 3-4. (257-278)

2001b. “Im Zeichen der Zeichen: Sprache als semiotisches System”. In Oswald Panagl, Hans Goebl and Emil Brix, eds., Der Mensch und seine Sprache(n). Vienna: Böhlau. (77-107)

Roland Posner and Massimo Serenari (2001). “Il grado zero della gestualità: Dalla funzione pratica a quella simbolica – Alcuni esempi dal Dizionario Berlinese dei Gesti Quotidiani”. In Multimodalità nella Comunicazione – Atti delle XI Giornate di Studio del Gruppo di Fonetica Sperimentale. Padova: Unipress. (81-88)

2002b. “Alltagsgesten als Ergebnis von Ritualisierung”. In Matthias Rothe and Hartmut Schröder, eds., Ritualisierte Tabuverletzung, Lachkultur und das Karnevaleske. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang. (295-421)

Posner, Roland and Dagmar Schmauks (2002). “Synästhesie: Physiologischer Befund, Praxis der Wahrnehmung, künstlerisches Programm”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 24, 1. (3-14)

Johansen, Jørgen Dines and Roland Posner (2003a). “Metaphern in Bild, Filmu, Gestik, Theater und Musik”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 25, 1-2. (3-24)

Johansen, Jørgen Dines and Roland Posner (2003b). “Einführung”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 25, 3-4. (227-239)

2003d. “Kultursemiotik”. In Ansgar and Vera Nünning, eds., Konzepte der Kulturwissenschaften: Theoretische Grundlagen – Ansätze – Perspektiven. Stuttgart and Weimar: Metzler. (39-71)

2007b. “Ebenen der Bildkompetenz”. In Katrin Greiser and Gerhard Schweppenhäuser, eds., Zeit der Bilder – Bilder der Zeit. Weimar: Max Stein. (43-52)

Park, Yo-song and Roland Posner (2007). “Das Spektrum zeitgenössischer koreanischer Semiotik”. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 29, 1. (7-9)

Posner, Roland and Nicole M. Wilk (2008). “Kulinaristik als Kultursemiotik”. In Alois Wierlacher and Regina Bendix, eds., Kulinaristik: Forschung, Lehre, Praxis. Berlin: LIT. (19-34). Also in: Kai-Michael Hingst and Maria Liatsi, eds., Pragmata – Festschrift für Klaus Oehler zum 80. Geburtstag. Tübingen: Narr. (154-169)

2010c. “Die Wahrnehmung von Bildern als Zeichenprozess”. In Dieter Maurer and Claudia Riboni, eds., Bild und Bildgenese. Frankfurt am Main: Lang. (139-183)

  1. “Предисловие автора к русскому изданию”. In Roland Posner, Rational Discourse and Poetic Communication. Рациональный дискурс и поэтическая коммуникация. Tomsk: Izdatelskij Dom Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. (15-16)

Interviews with Roland Posner – (selected)

Posner, Roland (2009b). “Signs and Meaning – Five Questions”. In Peer F. Bundgaard and Frederik Stjernfelt, eds., Signs and Meaning. New York: Automatic Press. (123-135)

Posner, Roland and Klaus Sachs-Hombach (2004). “Das Bild in der Semiotik. Interview mit Roland Posner”. In Klaus Sachs-Hombach, ed., Wege zur Bildwissenschaft. Interviews. Köln: Herbert von Halem. (22-52)

Works edited and coedited by Roland Posner – (selected)

Ballmer, Thomas T. and Roland Posner, eds. (1985). Nach-Chomskysche Linguistik. Neuere Arbeiten von Berliner Linguisten. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.

Bouissac, Paul, Michael Herzfeld and Roland Posner, eds., Iconicity: Essays on the Nature of Culture. Festschrift for Thomas A. Sebeok on His 65th Birthday. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.

Debus, Stephan and Roland Posner, eds. (2007). Atmosphären im Alltag – Über ihre Erzeugung und Wirkung. Bonn: Psychiatrie-Verlag.

Krampen, Martin, Klaus Oehler, Roland Posner and Thure von Uexküll, eds. (1981). Die Welt als Zeichen – Klassiker der modernen Semiotik. Berlin: Severin and Siedler. English translation: Martin Krampen, Klaus Oehler, Roland Posner, Thomas A. Sebeok and Thure von Uexküll, eds. (1987). Classics of Semiotics. New York and London: Plenum.

Müller, Cornelia and Roland Posner, eds. (2002). The semantics and pragmatics of everyday gestures. The Berlin conference. Berlin: Weidler Verlag.

Posner, Roland, ed. (1990d). Warnungen an die ferne Zukunft: Atommüll als Kommunikationsproblem. München: Raben.

Posner, Roland and Hans P. Reinecke, eds. (1977). Zeichenprozesse. Semiotische Forschung in den Einzelwissenschaften. Wiesbaden: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion.

Posner, Roland, Klaus Robering and Thomas A. Sebeok, eds. (1997–2004). Semiotik: Ein Handbuch zu den zeichentheoretischen Grundlagen von Natur und Kultur. Semiotics: A Handbook on the Sign-Theoretic Foundations of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter: Vol. 1-4.


About Roland Posner


Fricke, Ellen and Maarten Voss, eds. (2012). 68 Zeichen für Roland Posner. Ein semiotisches Mosaik. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.


Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W. B., ed. (2012). Sign Culture – Zeichen Kultur. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.


Kuzheleva-Sagan, Irina (2015). “Oб авторе книги”. In Roland Posner, Rational Discourse and Poetic Communication. Рациональный дискурс и поэтическая коммуникация. Tomsk: Izdatelskij Dom Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. (7-13)


Siefkes, Martin (2012). “Entwicklungslinien der Semiotik Roland Posners”.


Other Works Cited

Arielli, Emanuele (2005). Unkooperative Kommunikation. Eine handlungstheoretische Untersuchung. Münster: LIT.


Chomsky, Noam (1957). Syntactic Structures. The Hague and Paris: Mouton.


Hewitt et al. (1981). Reducing the Risk from Future Human Activities that Could Affect the Performance of High-Level Waste Isolation Systems. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of energy.


Montague, Richard (1973). “The Proper Treatment of Quantification in Ordinary English”. In: Jaakko Hintikka, Julius Moravcsik, Patrick Suppes, eds., Approaches to Natural Language. Dordrecht: Reidel, 221–242.


Morris, Charles W. (1972). Grundlagen der Zeichentheorie; Ästhetik und Zeichentheorie. München: Hanser.


Müller, Cornelia (undated). “A brief history of the origins of the ISGS”.


Nöth, Winfried (1985). Handbuch der Semiotik. Stuttgart: Metzler.


Opletalová, Veronika (2015). Komik und Intentionalität im Bild. Eine zeichentheoretische Untersuchung. Olomouc: Vydavatelství Filozofické fakulty Univerzity Palackého v Olomouci.


Schöps, Doris (2016), Körperhaltungen und Rollenstereotype im DEFA-Film. Eine korpusanalytische Untersuchung. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.


Sebeok, Thomas A. (1984). “Communication Measures to Bridge Ten Millennia”. Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation, April 1984.


Sebeok, Thomas A., ed. (1986). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics. Berlin – New York: Mouton de Gruyter, Vol. 1–3.


Siefkes, Martin (2012), Grenzfälle der Kommunikation. In Hess-Lüttich, E. W. B., ed., Sign Culture Zeichen Kultur. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.


Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson (1986). Relevance. Communication and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


  1. “Veranstaltungen”. [Conference Reports]. In Zeitschrift für Semiotik 2. (159-160)





Veronika Opletalová is Research Associate at the Department of German Studies of Palacký-University Olomouc where she received her PhD in 2014. Her doctoral thesis on semiotic aspects of humor was supervised by Roland Posner. She is presently putting together the Czech translation of Posner’s semiotic work (Sémiotické studie, to appear in 2018).


Martin Siefkes is Research Associate at the University of Technology Chemnitz. His research focuses on semiotics, multimodality, discourse analysis, and digital humanities. In 2010, he received his PhD from the University of Technology Berlin; his doctoral thesis on the semiotics of style was supervised by Roland Posner. From 2011 to 2014, he was Humboldt Research Fellow at the University IUAV in Venice and the University of Bremen. He co-edits the Zeitschrift für Semiotik and co-founded the Digital Humanities section of the DGS. Since Aug. 2015, he participates in the BMBF-funded research project MANUACT. Further information on his personal website.




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