Course in General Linguistics (French: Cours de linguistique générale) is an influential book compiled by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye that is based on notes taken from Ferdinand de Saussure's lectures at the University of Geneva between the years 1906 and 1911. It was published posthumously in 1916 and is generally regarded as the starting point of structural linguistics, an approach to linguistics that flourished in Europe and the United States in the first half of the 20th century. One of his translators, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics (Oxford University), Roy Harris, summarized Saussure's contribution to linguistics and the study of language in the following way:
"Language is no longer regarded as peripheral to our grasp of the world we live in, but as central to it. Words are not mere vocal labels or communicational adjuncts superimposed upon an already given order of things. They are collective products of social interaction, essential instruments through which human beings constitute and articulate their world. This typically twentieth-century view of language has profoundly influenced developments throughout the whole range of human sciences. It is particularly marked in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology and anthropology".
Although Saussure was specifically interested in historical linguistics, the Cours develops a theory of semiotics that is more generally applicable. In 1996 a manuscript, later published as Writings in General Linguistics, was found that contained Saussure's original notes.
Read more about Course In General Linguistics: Semiology: language, langue, and parole, The Sign, Arbitrariness, Value, Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic Relations, Synchronic and Diachronic Axes, Geographic Linguistics, Criticism, Editions
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