Sausserian Linguistics

Sausserian linguistics is an influential theory derived from the work of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913). Saussure tried to put linguistics on a scientific footing by emphasizing the priority of the abstract underlying system of language (la langue) over particular mutable manifestations thereof in actual speech (la parole), along with the priority of timeless or simultaneous phenomena considered synchronically over historical or successive phenomena considered diachronically. He identified the linguist sign as a combination of signifier and signified and insisted that the essential nature of the sign is an arbitrary and conventional relation that does not reach out, back, or down to any substance, entity, or absolute outside language…. For example: “noon” and “November” both contain an element that historically means “nine,” but noon is not the ninth hour and November is not the ninth month. The signs are arbitrary and can function perfectly as long as the community of speakers can agree on the meaning of “noon” and “November.” (A Handbook to Literature)

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Sources

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