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Semiosphere is the sphere of semiosis in which the sign processes operate in the set of all interconnected Umwelts. The concept was developed by Juri Lotman and is now considered a part of biosemiotics.


Juri Lotman, a semiotician at Tartu University, Estonia, was inspired by Vernadsky's terms biosphere and noosphere to propose that a semiosphere comes into being when any two Umwelts are communicating. Later, Jesper Hoffmeyer suggested a variation that the community of organisms occupying the semiosphere will inhabit a "semiotic niche". This implies that the semiosphere may be partially independent of the Umwelts. Kull argues that this suggestion is not consistent with the nature of semiosis which can only be a product of the behaviour of the organisms in the Umwelts. It is the organisms that create the signs which become the constituent parts of the semiosphere. This is not an adaptation to the existing environment, but the continuous creation of a new environment. Kull believes that it is only possible to accept Hoffmeyer's view as an analogy to the concept of an ecological niche as it is traditionally used in biology, so that the community develops according to the semiotic understanding of the processes which are responsible for the building of Umwelt.


  • Hoffmeyer, Jesper. Signs of Meaning in the Universe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (1996)
  • Kull, Kalevi. "On Semiosis, Umwelt, and Semiosphere". Semiotica vol. 120(3/4), pp. 299-310. (1998)
  • Lotman, Yuri M. "O semiosfere". Sign Systems Studies (Trudy po znakovym sistemam) vol. 17, pp. 5-23. (1984)