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Required Reading Saussure, General Principles (p 65-78, 88-91) Emile Benveniste, Four: The Nature of the Linguistic Sign RECOMMENDED: Benveniste, Three:

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Presentation on theme: "Required Reading Saussure, General Principles (p 65-78, 88-91) Emile Benveniste, Four: The Nature of the Linguistic Sign RECOMMENDED: Benveniste, Three:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Required Reading Saussure, General Principles (p 65-78, 88-91) Emile Benveniste, Four: The Nature of the Linguistic Sign RECOMMENDED: Benveniste, Three: Saussure After Half a Century

2 Ferdinand de Saussure ( ) Swiss linguist, working on Indo- European philology came to reinvent the system, the way language is theorized. Course in General Linguistics posthumously compiled from notes and lecture notes of his students. Modern structuralism - rules of relations among elements Semiology (semiotics)

3 What is the origin of Language? Best guess seems that language developed in parallel with the species. We dont know and we can never know. Bad question. Origins dont necessarily explain whats going on

4 Two modes of analysis Synchronic - description of the state of a language at a particular moment Diachronic - change through time, comes from comparing sequences of synchronic analyses Antecedents are not origins

5 Semiological point of view: system of signs An open-ended, arbitrary symbol system- A signal is transmitted from a sender to a receiver (or group of receivers) along a channel of communication. The signal will have a particular form and will convey a particular meaning (or message). The connection between form and meaning constitutes a code.

6 Study Language (langue) not speech (parole) The subject matter of linguistics comprises all manifestations of human speech, whether that of savages or civilized nations, or of archaic, classical or decadent periods. 1)Describe all observable languages 2)Trace their histories (families), reconstruction 3)Determine permanent, universal forces, deduce general laws 4)Delimit and define the discipline

7 Saussurian Duality of Language 1) Oral - aural pairing 2) Union of sound-image and concept 3) individual and social 4) Synchronic and diachronic realities An established system on the one hand Always a product of the past

8 Langue is the true object of study Parole (speech, speaking, articulation) is messy, hetereogeneous, variable, based in the individual Langue (language, competence) is both a social product of the faculty of speech and a collection of necessary conventions that have been adopted by a social body to permit individuals to exercise that faculty.

9 Social crystalization of langue Among all the individuals that are linked together by speech, some sort of average will be set up: all will reproducenot exactly of course, but approximatelythe same signs united with the same concepts. The social, the essential Not the individual, accidental, accessory

10 langue is no less concrete than parole Whereas speech is heterogeneous, language, as defined is homogeneous. It is a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound- images, and in which both parts of th sign are psychological. linguistic signs are not abstractions

11 science that studies the life of signs wthin society shows what consititute signs, what laws govern them language is the prototypical semiological system Science of signs - semiology

12 Linguistics as a model for general semiology Language is comparable to a symphony in that what the symphony actually is stands completely apart from how it is performed; the mistakes that musicians make in playing the symphony do not compromise this fact.

13 Emile Benvinistes explanation of Structuralism Saussure never uses the word structure: Language is a system that has its own arrangement. The system is an interdependent whole. If one part is modified, the whole system is affected because it remains coherent.

14 Saussurian principles Language is form, not substance Units of language can only be defined by their relationships Structuralism first enunciated by Prague School of Linguists following these principles (Roman Jakobson, Nikolay Trubetzkoy)

15 Structuralism Trubetskoy: One cannot determine the place of a word in a lexical system until one has studied the structure of the said system. A science of the whole - system of relations system is formed of units that mutually affect one another distinguished from other systems by the internal arrangements of these units arrangement is structure

16 French structuralism Benveniste: The structuralist doctrine teaches the predomincance of the system over the elements, and aims to define the structure of the system through the relationships among the elements, in the spoken chain as well as in formal paradigms, and shows the organic character of the changes to which language is subject.

17 Arbitrariness Benveniste, Nature of the Linguistic Sign: Arbitrariness of the sign is when analyzed across systems The linguistic sign is non-arbitrary (necessary) within the system. Cant say just anything and be speaking English. Natural logic of the system (Whorf)

18 Metaphor of the chess game c

19 Diachronic view: previous state More chess

20 Change in time This is

21 Structures of the system c

22 Changes in the structure This is

23 Structuralism Claude Levi-Strauss Edmund Leach Rodney Needham Dual oppositions Structures need not be pairs. Can be triads (Turner) or encompassing hierarchies (Dumont)

24 Speech and communication Speech is one-dimensional, sequence of signs Communication includes gestures and other signals Operates in parallel to speech Reinforcing ideas Contradicting (mixed signals)


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