Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913)

De Saussure was a noted linguist whose theories on the structure of language had a profound effect on modern linguistics and Literary Theory. His system was based on the concepts of the signifier (sound image or graphic), the referent (object or real thing) and the signified (concept or meaning). He posited that the connection between the signifier and the signified was an arbitrary one based on conventions of politeness. Another key to his theories is the idea of difference: he believed that signification was a function of difference.


De Saussure came from a family of noted intellectuals. His father, Henri de Saussure, was a well known biologist and his grandfather, Horace-Benedict, was a geologist who advanced the science of tectonics, as well as being the first person to climb to the summit of Mont-Blanc (1787).

De Saussure is known as the "Father of Modern Linguistics" Because of his work with Indo-European languages. In Paris and in Geneva, between 1881 and 1891, he studied Sanskrit, comparitive languages and linguistics. Three years after his death, his students published his notes on the structure of language which had a profound influence on modern linguistics and Semiology.


The writings of de Saussure had a profound effect upon: Semiology or Semiotics


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