Zoosemiotics is the study of how animals communicate. For example, dogs tend to wag their tails when happy. Birds sing songs and chirrup to communicate with other birds. The word was developed by the semiotician Thomas Sebeok who first proposed the term in 1963. Sebeok, at the time of his development of the term wrote, “The term zoosemiotics – constructed in an exchange between Rulon Wells and me – is proposed for the discipline, within which the science of signs intersects with ethology, devoted to the scientific study of signalling behavior in and across animal species. The basic assumption of zoosemiotics is that, in the last analysis, all animals are social beings, each species with a characteristic set of communication problems to solve.”
The noun zoosemiotics is the concatenation of “zoo” (from the Greek zoion for animal) and “semiotics” (all from the Greek sēmeiotikos which means ‘of signs,’), the study of signs and their meaning.
The BBC video takes a look at how cats communicate with both humans and other cats in urban England. Cats communicate more through body language from rolling on the ground, how their tails are held, and the position of their ears. A team of researchers follows several cats around to see how they communicate.