Course in General Linguistics Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1169 Words
Date:  2022-07-25

Saussure describes the history of linguistics stating the development of a kind of science concerning the passing of language through some stages before finding objects. He says that the first stage was the studying of grammar which was first done by the Greeks and the French followed closely (De Saussure pg. 1). During this stage, there was the development of rules that were meant to distinguish between the forms that were correct and incorrect. The second stage as described by Saussure was philology where philologists made comments and interpreted most of the written texts. The third stage developed as a result of the realization that languages could be compared (De Saussure pg. 2). The third stage led to the emergence of aspects that illuminate a particular word concerning another and explaining the forms of one language through another.

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There was the development of comparative methods which led to false notions developing among the users of knowledge (De Saussure pg. 4). These notions did not have any basis in reality, and they did not even give a reflection of the facts of speech. Later on, they developed other reasoning methods which led to astonishments in the science of linguistics. Such developments occurred as seen in the scientific research from different scholars. In the modern days, one can read many lines without getting struck by reasoning absurdities and the terminologies used. Saussure tends to get the readers to reflect on their present reading abilities from the development of languages back in history (De Saussure pg. 5). Other fundamental problems arose in general linguistics that has not yet been solved up to date.

The second chapter describes the scope of linguistics and how it is related to other sciences. Saussure says that the range of linguistics is to trace back the history of languages and define the possibilities of reconstruction of mother languages (De Saussure pg. 6). Linguistics also shows the association of social forces that with communications and how they work. The subject matter consists of the manifestation of human speech as well as considering various forms of expression during the speech. Linguistics has a close relation with sciences such that some data is borrowed and applied during language. Linguistics is tied to physiology such that when studying language, there is a need to seek clarification from the science of physiology (De Saussure pg. 7). The author shows that when explaining a word, other aspects of its origin and relation cannot be left out.

The piece summarizes the characteristics of language being that it involves different speech facts in that an event of human speech requires an individual to create and modify themselves (De Saussure pg. 14). An individual must be in constant learning of languages if they want to remain relevant in the social world today. It is clear that one has to understand any vocal calls that they hear. The expression can be studied separately which gives it a characteristic of growth (De Saussure pg. 15). Language is said to be concrete because it is real and it has signs. The author also differentiates the linguistics of language and those of speaking (De Saussure pg. 18). The first four chapters state more about the elements of literature and describe what people need to know about its origin. Speaking happens in the form of manifestations which tend to be individual and particular acts are involved (De Saussure pg. 19). Language development is essential to every being because communication requires it.

Saussure discusses the nature of linguistic signs where he says that the linguistic sign is significant and it is a representation of the union between a concept and a sound image. The two elements are placed in the form of a two-sided oval shape that shows how each of the forms recalls the other (De Saussure pg. 66). From the sign arises terminology that is used by individuals to describe situations. The author tries to show that the symbols used in languages can be interpreted using words because signs are arbitrary. He states that the signifier which in this case is used to mean the scientific value of a word is from the property of being in a concept which he describes as the signified (De Saussure pg. 68). The relation of the signified with other ideas breeds its value. Additionally, for a complete sign to have its value, it has to unite the signifier and the signified (De Saussure pg. 72). The idea of a full sign is to say that languages are not as natural as they are taken to be and that languages determined the value they have from what they signify.


The social forces play a significant part in having an impact on linguistics. Saussure gives an example of considering an individual that is isolated and that even over time, there would be no change to the language because there is no influence. On the other hand, when we take into account a community of speakers and without the consideration of time, it is difficult to describe the effects of social forces on language development (De Saussure pg. 78). This way, the author shows that the social troops acting on language are dependent on time and the users of that language. Language is not considered to be free because its users are limited to time and forces. Looking back at the mentioned principle of continuity, freedom is cancelled, and the use of language is restricted. However, this principle of continuity is an implication of change such that language changes as time passes.To conclude, Saussure states that the classification of human speech is either into language or speaking and language could either be synchrony or diachronic. Any innovation made for matters of speaking leads to the same success. A form of speaking that a community of speakers uses and they get it repeated sometimes become a fact of language because it eventually gets accepted by the community (De Saussure pg. 98). Different communities speak different languages, and they launch any changes that they try to make before they accept them in the region for any general use. Innovations of speaking that are individual may get ignored because they do not get observed until the community decides to adopt them.Scholars need to do more research on linguistics and decide on ways to deal with a range of facts that they find. Every language will form an area of study with the theories in the notion (De Saussure pg. 99). A course in Linguistics is an excellent piece to read and provides readers with an exclusive debate of the origin of languages and people's perceptions of the same. Facts existing about writing should be considered, and in the event of other developments, they will make significant changes.


Bally, C., & de Saussure, F. (2004). Course in general linguistics.

De Saussure, F. (1960). Course in general linguistics. P. Owen.

De Saussure, F. (1993). The third course of lectures on general linguistics. Online: http://www. Marxists. org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/Saussure. htm (May 4th, 2007).

De Saussure, F. (2011). Course in general linguistics. Columbia University Press.

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