This title introduces the reader to the ways in which Saussure developed his revolutionary insights on language and demystifies his complex theories. Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) is generally considered one of the main founders of modern linguistics and semiotics. The book that was derived from his teaching, the "Course in General Linguistics", had a lasting impact on the intellectual life of the 20th century and remains today an object of debates and controversies. This Guide for the Perplexed introduces the reader to the ways in which Saussure developed his revolutionary insights on language in the context of the linguistics of his time. It also provides clear definitions and explanations of the basic notions that form the substance of his work, with relevant examples of how they apply to the understanding of language and other symbolic systems. The book demonstrates how Saussure's ideas have subsequently been used in the humanities and social sciences. It concludes by pointing to the continuing relevance of the theoretical and practical problems that were articulated by Saussure.
This is the ideal book for those studying Saussure, structural linguistics or semantics and semiotics, offering a clear overview and explanation of all the key aspects of this fascinating linguist's work. "Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
Paul Bouissac is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto (Victoria College), Canada.
1. Saussure's last lectures: a perplexed man; 2. Saussure's student years: insights and accomplishments; 3. Saussure in Berlin and Paris: What did it mean to be a linguist in 1880?; 4. Saussure the maverick: thinking outside the box; 5. S. like synchrony, structure, sign and semiology; 6. Diachrony: Saussure and the problem of time; 7. The Course in General Linguistics: Saussure's conceptual legacy; 8. From Saussure to Saussurism and back: the unfinished task; Appendix 1: Saussurean scholarship; Appendix 2: Quotes from Saussure.