Looking back to see forward — Rediscovering Saussure

Carrasco, William J.

Ferdinand de Saussure’s influence on cultural sciences in the 20th century is undeniable, but today it has become all too easy to overlook his importance for the future of linguistics. Saussure is still often cited as a ‘father of modern linguistics’, and yet his methodology is conspicuously absent from most linguistic practices today. In many linguistic textbooks, for example, some of his key notions are introduced briefly at the beginning, never to be heard of again. Sometimes he is discussed just long enough to establish that he has been surpassed by more ‘dynamic’ theories of language. Despite all this, a good number of linguists today are beginning to wonder if we are only just catching up to Saussure. This is a question that deserves to be asked on the 100th anniversary of the publication of his Course in General Linguistics.


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Biology (Barnard College)
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February 13, 2017