The Routledge Companion to Semiotics

By Paul Cobley | Go to book overview

7
THE SAUSSUREAN HERITAGE

ANNE HÉNAULT

Saussure (1857–1913) is the scientist, who, educated in sciences (mathematics and physics) as well as in philology and in the linguistics of his time, thought it necessary to transform this discipline into a hard science, by giving it a really rational basis. Linguistics, which had started to come together with the works of von Humboldt, Rémusat, de Chézy, Bopp, Steinthal amongst other authorities, could not, according to Saussure, constitute a rigorous and specific knowledge about language, expression and circulation of codified meanings unless an axiomatic approach was settled:

From the outset, we differ from the theoreticians who think that the point is to
give an idea of the phenomenon of language or from those, already less numer-
ous who endeavour to fix the operations of the linguist within these phenomena.
Indeed, our point of view is that the knowledge of a phenomenon, or an opera-
tion of the mind, requires the previous definition of a term, whatever; not a def-
inition at random, that can always be given of a relative term with regard to other
relative terms, eternally running round in a vicious circle, but a consistent defin-
ition, starting at a given point from a base which I would not consider absolute,
but explicitly chosen as an irreducible basis for us and central for the system. To
imagine that in linguistics one can do without such an healthy mathematical
logic, under the pretext that language is something concrete that ‘becomes’ and
not something ‘abstract’ that ‘is’, represents to my mind a deep error.1

1 Long quotations are offered in the original French in the footnotes, as here. All English renderings of extracts from the Cours de linguistique générale are from Harris’ 1983 translation, hereafter cited as Saussure (1983), with the original French coming from Cours de linguistique générale (CLG 1916, 1922, 1972). Quotes are also taken from the critical edition of the Cours de linguistique générale (CLG/E 1967– 1974), rendered in English by the author. Likewise, English renderings from Saussure’s Ecrits de linguistique générale (ELG 2002) are those of the author.

Short quotations appear in English and, in brackets, in French in the main text. Nous différons, depuis le principe, des théoriciens qui pensent qu’il s’agit de donner une idée des phénomènes du langage, ou de ceux, déjà plus rares, qui cherchent à fixer les opérations du linguiste au milieu de ces phénomènes. Notre point de vue est en effet que la connaissance d’un phénomène ou d’une opération de l’esprit suppose préalablement la définition d’un terme quelconque; non pas la définition de hasard qu’on peut toujours donner d’un terme relatif par rapport à d’autres termes relatifs, en tournant éternellement dans un cercle vicieux, mais la définition conséquente qui part à un endroit quelconque d’une base, je ne dis pas absolue, mais choisie expressément comme base irréductible pour nous, et centrale de tout le système. S’imaginer qu’on pourra se passer en linguistique de cette saine logique mathématique, sous prétexte que la langue est une chose concrète qui ‘devient’ et non une chose abstraite qui ‘est’, est, à ce que je crois, une erreur profonde.

(ELG, p. 34)

-101-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Routledge Companion to Semiotics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Routledge Companion to Semiotics i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Using This Book xix
  • Part I- Understanding Semiotics 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Ancient Semiotics 13
  • 2 - Semiotics of Nature 29
  • 3 - Umwelt and Modelling 43
  • 4 - Logic and Cognition 57
  • 5 - Realism and Epistemology 74
  • 6 - Peirce, Phenomenology and Semiotics 89
  • 7 - The Saussurean Heritage 101
  • 8 - Sociosemiotics 118
  • 9 - Semiotics of Media and Culture 135
  • 10 - Semioethics 150
  • Part II - Key Themes and Major Figures in Semiotics 163
  • References 359
  • Index 389
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 398

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.