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Lecture # 10.  Langue/ parole distinction & competence versus performance  Ferdinand De Saussure made a distinction between the two concepts  Langue-

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture # 10.  Langue/ parole distinction & competence versus performance  Ferdinand De Saussure made a distinction between the two concepts  Langue-"— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture # 10

2  Langue/ parole distinction & competence versus performance  Ferdinand De Saussure made a distinction between the two concepts  Langue- social, a set of conventions shared by all the speakers of a language  Parole- belongs to individuals, actual sounds and sentences produced by speakers/ writers

3  Language system- Langue  Language behaviour – Parole  Noam Chomsky made a similar distinction  Competence versus behaviour  Knowledge of the structure of language- competence  The way a speaker uses knowledge- performance

4  Language is made up of signs  Saussure says, sign is the central fact of language  Sign- A physical marker which carries some information  The information is direct, brief and precise (only this, no other)

5  Sign is opposed to symbol which is a mere indication  Sign contains more information & stands in place of something as a means of pointing towards it indirectly  Example: Gesture of waving hand – sign, but can be interpreted variously as symbolic of farewell, dismissal etc.

6  The way of eating, dressing up is a sign which signals some social practice or belief  When you apply the concept to behaviour, society and culture, it becomes evident that our whole culture is made up of signs which have special significance or meaning in our culture

7  Saussure’s idea of sign has led to the growth of a whole area of the study of operation of signs in culture and society- Semiotics  In language studies, it helps to understand what language is  Linguistic sign has two parts – Signifier & Signified or the word which signifies and the object that is signified

8  Tree signifies  But the word tree does not signify the actual object.  In that case the word for this object in all languages would have been the same – tree  So, the word tree does not represent the actual object in life.

9  The word ‘tree’ represents the concept or the image in our minds.  We invent a word with some sound images which is later used to represent the concept of it in our minds.  No logical reason for choosing a certain combination of words to represent the concept

10  Relationship between sounds (and words) & the concept they signify is an arbitrary one  Modified diagram as under: Tree signifies Concept of tree (word or sound (mental image = Image = signifier) signified)

11  That which signifies (the word) is signifier.  That which is signified (the concept) is the signified.  Sign is the composite of both – it consists of the relationship between the signifier and the signified.  This relationship continues over a long period of time

12  The relationship is established as a social fact by a society.  It is arbitrary, not a logical relationship.  It is not established by reason (there is no reasonable connection between the object and the sounds used to represent it)  Only social agreement can give it validity

13  There is no intrinsic basis to it – linguistic sign is arbitrary  Many such signs make up the system of language  Signs are relational entities, they exist only in terms of relation to each other.  They enter into complex relationship with each other.

14  The relationships make up the whole system of language.  Since arbitrary, the signs differ from one language to another – concepts are different in different languages  Same as concepts are different in different societies and cultures

15  Every society constructs its own concepts of real world and links these concepts to certain signifiers and signifieds arbitrarily chosen.  The signifiers are then used to refer to these concepts and signifieds are used to refer to the actual objects

16  Once relationships are made, they are fixed.  People not free to choose any arbitrary signifiers they want to choose  A symbol is any kind of sign that signifies several concepts on the basis of primary relationship between signifier and signified.

17  The word ‘tree’ signifies concept of tree – that is primary relationship.  It may also signify ‘life’, ‘growth’, etc.  The word ‘book’ signifies the concept of a book, ‘face’ signifies concept of face Book Face

18  The word ‘book’ may also mean ‘reserve’ and the word ‘face’ may also mean ‘to involve yourself with a person or situation  Then the words ‘tree’, ‘book’ and ‘face’ are not only a signs, but also symbols.  A symbol is built up of several associative relationships between the signifiers and the signifieds

19  Language made of signs  Linguistic sign has two parts – Signifier & Signified  That which signifies (the word) – Signifier  That which is signified (the concept) – Signified  Sign – composite of both, it consists of the relationship between signifier & signified

20  That is why we say that language is a system of symbolic signs since there are often very complex associative relationships between the signifiers and the signifieds in a language  Signifiers and signified operate in their relationship with each other

21 Saussure’s contributions  Saussure exerted two kinds of influence on modern linguistics: First, he provided a general orientation, a sense of the task of linguistics which has seldom been questioned.  Second, he influenced modern linguistics in the specific concepts.

22 Saussure’s contributions  Many of the developments of modern linguistics can be described as his concept, i.e. his idea of the arbitrary nature of the sign, langue vs. parole, synchrony vs. diachrony, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations, etc.

23 Saussure’s contributions Saussure’s contribution regarding the concepts of sign & symbol distinction brought a new revolution and enjoys a prime importance in the domain of modern linguistics


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