- Series: Open Court Classics
- Paperback: 236 pages
- Publisher: Open Court; Reprint edition (December 30, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812690230
- ISBN-13: 978-0812690231
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Course in General Linguistics (Open Court Classics) Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
I am delighted that Wade Baskin's classic translation is back in print, especially since Saussy and Meisel's judicious updating and summary of recent scholarly discoveries make this an invaluable resource for English readers.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
This book is not particularly difficult; it's a bit dry, but what can you expect from a linguistics class? If you read it carefully, you'll have no problem grasping what he is saying... and, when you are done, you will be well on your way to understanding what people like Lacan, Derrida and Foucault are trying to say. (You'll also be well along your way to understanding Claude Levi-Strauss, who attempted to do for anthropology what Saussure did for linguistics). If you want to understand modern philosophy, Saussure is as indispensible as Marx or Freud. Combine this with *Saussure for Beginners* and you'll pick up Saussure's train of thought in no time.
1. Sign as the unity of signifier (letters, sounds, image) and signified (meaning implied by the signifier)
2. Language (langage) as the unity of langue (code - language as a system) and parole (usage)
3. Syncrhonic (language as static system) and diachronic lingustics (langauge as an ever changing, evolving system)
4. Retrospective (language evolution so far) and prospective linguistics (future evolution of a language).
Many linguists have added a cloud of debate over these concepts, but non explains as lucidly as the master who propounded these. For those confused bout semiotics, semiology etc., this work is a reference point for the original meaning of the term 'semiology' as intended by Saussure. Many of Saussure's binary distinctions became the central to an approach to social sciences called structuralism which still holds sway in social sciences.
One problem with this translation that potential readers should be aware of: If you are reading this to get a better understanding of the terms used by structuralists (signifier and signified) then you need to get the other version. This edition uses the words signification and signal.
Although the rest of text is fine, the exclusion of signifier and signified is, I believe, the only major drawback to the book since these were the terms adopted by structuralist and post-structuralist.
De Saussure begins by distinguishing between the entire spectrum of language discourse (langue) and the individual spoken utterances of single words (parole). He was not concerned with parole. His focus was on langue. He had the controversial idea that langue did not exist as an actual entity in the physical universe. Langue had to be constructed from parole. The inference was that all languages, however unrelated semantically, yet shared a common structure. It is his relentless urging that all languages had this shared root that allows moderns to call him the Father of Structuralism. Further, he devised a conceptual tool to describe how langue and parole interact to produce meaning. Any word could be reduced to a simple structure--the sign. By "sign" he did not imply a symbolic equivalent of one thing for another. Rather, he defined a sign as having two interconnected parts: the "signifier" (the spoken word that has meaning only for one who understands that language) and the "signified" (the unverbalized concept within the mind). This relation is arbitrary and totally a function of only that one culture and one language. The inference here was as unsettling as the ramification between langue and parole. If all cultures invested their respective languages with arbitrarily assigned equivalences between a signifier and its signified, then it followed that buried somewhere deep within the human brain were underlying pseudo-codes that could form the basis of future and predictable patterns. As these signs interact on a discrete level, De Saussure threw yet another linguistic bomb by suggesting that his contemporaries were dead wrong in their insistence that the evolution of language must be viewed only through a prism of long periods of time, decades and centuries. Such an open-ended time frame he called diachronic. De Saussure countered that it was meaningless to ascribe texture and significance to speakers who did not and could not interact over such vast time frames. For meaning to have meaning, a speaker must focus only on the here and now of a word. Such a closed-ended time frame he called synchronic. This difference was hardly picayune since a variety of competing ideologists, including Marxists, for example, insisted that for historical determinism to be valid only the long run could count.
The ideas in his COURSE IN GENERAL LINGUISTICS ran supreme until the mid 1960s. The post-structuralists, deconstructionists, and the post-modernists increasingly came to view De Saussure and his structuralist theories as misleading at best and cosmically wrong at worst. These critics saw him as one who tried to place a suffocating one size fits all blanket on the infinitely complex nature of human beings. Regardless of the legitimacy of this charge, Ferdinand De Saussure still stands as one of the giants of critical theory--even if we are not quite sure about the complexity of human nature.