Ferdinand de Saussure’s Theory of Structuralism

Topics: Linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, Semiotics Pages: 2 (603 words) Published: October 8, 2013
The word structure is derived from the Latin word structura which means to build. The theory of structuralism is considered to be a part of French structuralism, started in 1950s, by the cultural anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. It is developed by Ferdinand de Saussure in his Course in General Linguistics (1915), who applied a variety of linguistic concepts in analyzing a literary text. His theory of the structure of language is considered as the origin of structuralism. Ferdinand de Saussure believes that there are changes in language, but changes are determined by structure, rather than changes by some speaker. He thinks language should be studied synchronically, at a particular point in time. He suggests there could be a science, perhaps semiology, which studies "signs within a society" to demonstrate what signs are, and what governs them. In 1894, Saussure wrote a letter, which outlined his frustration with linguistic theory. He writes "current terminology" is inadequate. It needs to be reformed so it can demonstrate what sort of "object of language is". Although Saussure is credited as the author of The Course in General Linguistics, which was based on his student's notes, compiled by his colleagues, and published by posthumous in 1916. His colleagues were able to identify three different theories from student's notes. The first theory presents language from the point of view of structure. A sign may be split into two parts, one is the signifier, a sound or image, and the other is the signified, a concept. The signifier and signified produces a unit, and the unit produces signification. The value of signification is determined by how it differs from other terms. If the signification differentiate more, the value may be greater. Sounds, images, and concepts do not exist prior to their amalgamation. Signs are "interdependent" (858). The signifier and signified are inseparable; one cannot exist without the other. In the second theory, Saussure believes there...
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