Ferdinand de Saussure

Edited by John Joseph

© 2013 – Routledge

1,520 pages

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Hardback: 9780415465465
pub: 2013-10-08
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About the Book

Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) is widely recognized as the founder of twentieth-century language science. In his lifetime he published an important work on Indo-European philology but it was his Course in General Linguistics, published posthumously in 1916, that paved the way for a genuinely scientific theory of language based on a system of mutually defining entities. In addition to laying the foundations for many of the significant developments in modern linguistics, the implications of Saussure’s work have been far reaching across a broad range of disciplines beyond language studies; indeed, his projected science of signs effected a fundamental reconceptualization of our knowledge about all socially organized meaning systems and it has had a profound impact on, for example, the evolution of modern sociology, anthropology, film studies, and literary theory.

As serious work on Saussure’s thinking and influence continues to flourish, this long-awaited new title in Routledge’s Critical Assessments of Leading Linguists series meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of a vast scholarly literature. Edited by John E. Joseph, author of the first full-length and comprehensive biography of Saussure, this four-volume Major Work brings together the best and most influential English-language Saussurean secondary literature. (It also makes available in translation several key pieces originally published in languages other than English.)

The collection includes: work on Saussure’s precursors; comprehensive coverage of his linguistic theory, his key concepts, and their critical reception, especially in Europe and the USA; critiques of Saussure (including reassessments and refinements prompted by the unearthing in 1996 of a manuscript published as his Writings in General Linguistics); full coverage of Saussure’s ‘rediscovery’ in the 1960s and his significance in the rise of structuralism, as well as his influence on the broader poststructuralist approaches to inquiry in the human sciences that followed.

Ferdinand de Saussure is fully indexed and has a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital one-stop research and pedagogic resource.

Table of Contents


Volume I: Saussure’s Early Work and Influences

1. Robert Godel, ‘Souvenirs of F. de Saussure Concerning His Youth and Studies’, Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure, 1960, 17, 12–25 (translated by the editor for this collection).

2. John E. Joseph, ‘Saussure’s "Souvenirs" Revisited’ (presented at the 11th International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences, Potsdam, 28 Aug.–2 Sept. 2008).

3. E. F. K. Koerner, ‘French Influences on Saussure’, Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 1984, 29, 1, 20–41.

4. Hans Aarsleff, ‘Taine and Saussure’, Yale Review, 1978, 68, 71–81.

5. John Rhys, review of Mémoire, The Academy 1879, 16, 234–5.

6. E. F. K. Koerner, ‘The Place of Saussure’s Mémoire in the Development of Historical Linguistics’, Festschrift for Henry Hoenigswald: On the Occasion of his 70th Birthday, eds. George Cardona and Norman H. Zide (Gunter Narr, 1987), pp. 201–17.

7. George Wolf, ‘A Glance at the History of Linguistics: Saussure and Historical-Comparativism’, The Emergence of the Modern Language Sciences, eds. S. Embleton et al. (John Benjamins, 1999), pp. 129–37.

8. Roman Jakobson, ‘Saussure’s Unpublished Reflections on Phonemes’, Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure, 1969, 26, 5–14.

9. Bernard Laks, ‘Saussure’s Phonology’, Take Danish, For Instance: Linguistic Studies in Honour of Hans Basbøll Presented on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday, 12 July 2003, eds. Henrik Galberg Jacobsen, Dorthe Bleses, Thomas O. Madsen, and Pia Thomsen (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2003), pp. 199–209.

10. Aldo L. Prosdocimi and Maria Pia Marchese, ‘Notes on Saussure as an Indo-Europeanist and Phoneticist’, Prehistory, History, and Historiography of Language, Speech, and Linguistic Theory, ed. Bela Brogyanyi (John Benjamins, 1992), pp. 89–111.

11. Edward Stankiewicz, ‘Saussure’s Law and the Nominal Accentuation of the Lithuanian Acute Stems’, Linguistica Baltica, 1995, 4, 61–73.

12. Lee A. Becker, ‘De Saussure’s Laws: The Origin of Distinctive Intonations in Lithuanian’, International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Poetics, 1981, 24, 7–21.

13. Martin Krampen, ‘Ferdinand de Saussure and the Development of Semiology’, Classics of Semiotics, eds. Martin Krampen et al. (Springer Verlag, 1987), pp. 59–88.

14. Niels Helsloot, ‘Divine Rock: Ferdinand de Saussure’s Poetics’, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft, 2003, 13, 2, 187–231.

15. Samuel Kinser, ‘Saussure’s Anagrams: Ideological Work’, Modern Language Notes, 1979, 94, 5, 1105–38.

16. Ivan Callus, ‘Jalonnante and Parathlipse: Encountering New Terminology in Ferdinand de Saussure’s Researches into Anagrams’, Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure, 2002, 55, 169–202.

17. T. Craig Christy, ‘Saussure’s "Anagrams": Blunder or Paralanguage?’, History of Linguistics 1996: Selected Papers from the Seventh International Conference on the History of the Language Sciences (Ichols VII) Oxford, 12–17 September 1996, Vol. 2 (‘From Classical to Contemporary Linguistics’), eds. David Cram, Andrew Robert Linn, and Elke Nowak (John Benjamins, 1999), pp. 299–305.

18. David Shepheard, ‘Saussure’s Vedic Anagrams’, Modern Language Review, 1982, 77, 513–23.

19. W. Terrence Gordon and Henry G. Schogt, ‘Ferdinand de Saussure: The Anagrams and the Cours’, The Emergence of the Modern Language Sciences, eds. S. Embleton et al. (John Benjamins, 1999), pp. 139–50.

20. John E. Joseph, ‘The Secret Saussure’, Times Literary Supplement, 5459, 16 Nov. 2007, 14–15.

VOLUME II: The Course in General Linguistics and its Early Impact

21. Leonard Bloomfield, review of F. de Saussure, Cours de linguistique générale, Modern Language Journal, 1923, 8, 317–19.

22. Gabor Bezeczky, ‘The Course, of Course’, Journal of Literary Semantics, 1995, 24, 1, 57–78.

23. Carol Sanders, ‘Saussure Translated’, Historiographia Linguistica, 2000, 27, 2–3, 345–58.

24. Robert Godel, ‘F. de Saussure’s Theory of Language’, Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. III, ed. Thomas A. Sebeok (Mouton, 1966), pp. 479–93.

25. Jacques Derrida, ‘The Linguistic Circle of Geneva’, Critical Inquiry, 1982, 8, 4, 675–91.

26. Roy Harris, ‘Identities, Differences, and Analogies: The Problem Saussure Could Not Solve’, Historiographia Linguistica, 2000, 27, 2–3, 297–305.

27. Walter Keith Percival, ‘The Saussurean Paradigm: Fact or Fantasy?’, Semiotica, 1981, 36, 1–2, 33–49.

28. V. N. Voloshinov, ‘Two Trends of Thought in Philosophy of Language’, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, trans. Ladislav Matejka and I. R. Titunik (Harvard University Press, 1973), pp. 45–63.

29. Mika Lähteenmäki, ‘On Dynamics and Stability: Saussure, Voloshinov, and Bakhtin’, Dialogues on Bakhtin: Interdisciplinary Readings, eds. Mika Lähteenmäki and H. Dufva (University of Jyväskylä, Centre for Applied Language Studies, 1998), pp. 52–71.

30. Roman Jakobson, ‘Presentation and Criticism of F. de Saussure’s Principal Linguistic Concepts’, Zeichen und System, 1962, 2, 50–6.

31. Roy Harris, ‘Jakobson’s Saussure’, Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 1997, 29, 75–88.

32. Rudolf Engler, ‘European Structuralism: Saussure’, Current Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 13 (‘Historiography of Linguistics’), ed. Thomas A. Sebeok (Mouton, 1975), pp. 829–86.

33. O. Leska, J. Nekvapil, and O. Soltys, ‘Ferdinand de Saussure and the Prague Linguistic Circle’, Philologica Pragensia, 1987, 30, 2, 77–109.

34. Frantisek Čermák, ‘Ferdinand de Saussure and the Prague School of Linguistics’, Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague, ed. E. Hajičová, M. Červenka, O. Leka, and P. Sgall (John Benjamins, 1996), pp. 59–72.

35. Alan H. Gardiner, ‘The Distinction of "Speech" and "Language"’, Atti del Terzo Congresso Internazionale di Linguisti, Rome, 19–26 September 1933, eds. Bruno Migliorini and Vittore Pisani (Firenze: F. Lemonnier, 1935), pp. 345–53.

36. Alan H. Gardiner, ‘De Saussure’s Analysis of the "signe linguistique"’, Acta Linguistica (Hafnensia), 1944, 4, 107–10.

37. Rulon Wells, ‘De Saussure’s System of Linguistics’, Word, 1947, 3, 1–31.

38. Dwight L. Bolinger, ‘The Sign is Not Arbitrary’, Boletín del Instituto Caro y Cuervo (Bogotá), 1949, 5, 52–62.

39. Karl E. Zimmer, ‘The Morphophonemics of Saussure’s "Cours de linguistique générale"’, Foundations of Language, 1970, 6, 423–6.

40. Johannes Fehr, ‘The Question of Transmission in Saussure’s Reflections on Language’, The Prague School and Theories of Structure, eds. Markéta Malá, Martin Procházka, and Pavlina Saldova (V&R unipress GmbH, 2009), pp. 415–26.


41. William Washabaugh, ‘Saussure, Durkheim, and Sociolinguistic Theory’, Archivum Linguisticum, 1974, 5, 25–34.

42. Robert M. Strozier, ‘Saussure and the Intellectual Traditions of the Twentieth Century’, Semiotica, 1985, 57, 1–2, 33–49.

43. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, ‘Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence’, Signs, transl. Richard C. McCleary (Northwestern University Press, 1964), pp. 39–83.

44. John T. Waterman, ‘Ferdinand de Saussure, Forerunner of Modern Structuralism’, Modern Language Journal, 1956, 40/6, 307–9.

45. Samuel R. Levin, ‘Langue and Parole in American Linguistics’, Foundations of Language, 1965, 1, 2, 83–94.

46. Eugenio Coseriu, ‘My Saussure’, Saussure and Linguistics Today, eds. Tullio De Mauro and Shigeaki Sugeta (Bulzoni, 1995), pp. 187–91.

47. Jacques Derrida, ‘Linguistics and Grammatology’, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 27–71.

48. Gregory S. Jay, ‘Values and Deconstructions: Derrida, Saussure, Marx’, Cultural Critique, 1987–8, 8, 153–96.

49. Claire Joubert, ‘Saussure Rereads Derrida: Language and Critique’, European Journal of English Studies, 2006, 10, 1, 49–62.

50. Russell Daylight, ‘What if Derrida was Wrong about Saussure?’, International Journal of the Humanities, 2006, 4, 4, 19–24.

51. Frederic Jameson, ‘The Linguistic Model’, The Prison-House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism (Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 3–39.

52. Gunther Kress, ‘From Saussure to Critical Sociolinguistics: The Turn towards a Social View of Language’, Discourse Theory and Practice: A Reader, eds. Margaret Wetherell, Stephanie Taylor, and Simeon J. Yates (Sage, 2001), pp. 29–38.53. Derek Attridge, ‘Language as History/History as Language: Saussure and the Romance of Etymology’, Post-structuralism and the Question of History, eds. Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington, and Robert Young (1987), pp. 183–211.

54. Samuel Weber, ‘Saussure and the Apparition of Language: The Critical Perspective’, Modern Language Notes, 1976, 91, 5, 913–38.

55. Raffaele Simone, ‘The Language User in Saussure (and After)’, Historical Roots of Linguistic Theories, eds. Lia Formigari and Daniele Gambarara (John Benjamins, 1995), pp. 233–49.

56. R. P. Fawcett, ‘Language as a Semiological System: A Re-Interpretation of Saussure’, LACUS Forum, 1982, 9, 59–125.

57. Brigitte Nerlich, ‘Saussure and Wittgenstein: The Arbitrariness and Autonomy of Grammar’, Et multum et multa: Festschrift für Peter Wunderli zum 60. Geburtstag, eds. Edeltraut Werner et al. (Gunter Narr, 1998), pp. 143–56.

58. Yong-Ho Choi, ‘Ricoeur and Saussure: On Meaning and Time’, Semiotica, 2008, 168, 1–4, 255–69.

59. Demelza Marlin, ‘Saussure and the Elusive Question of the Origin’, Semiotica, 2008, 172, 1–4, 185–200.

60. Sandywell, Barry, ‘Saussure’s Diacritic: Preliminary Sketch for a Logological Study’, Writing Sociology, 1976, 1, 85–110.

volume IV: Extensions to Other Fields of Study

61. Robert Scholes, ‘Language, Narrative, and Anti-Narrative’, Critical Inquiry, 1980, 7, 1, 204–12.

62. Jacques Lacan, ‘The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason Since Freud’, Écrits: A Selection, transl. Alan Sheridan (Tavistock, 1977), pp. 146–78.

63. Michel Arrivé, ‘The Symbol in Linguistics: Saussure and Hjelmslev’, Linguistics and Psychoanalysis: Freud, Saussure, Hjelmslev, Lacan and Others, trans. James Leader (John Benjamins, 1992), pp. 19–43.

64. Izchack M. Schlesinger, ‘If de Saussure was Right, could Whorf Have Been Wrong?’, Language and Cognition: A Developmental Perspective, ed. Esther Dromi (Ablex, 1993), pp. 202–18.

65. Sarah Winter, ‘Darwin’s Saussure: Biosemiotics and Race in Expression’, Representations, 2009, 128–61.

66. Margaret Iversen, ‘Saussure versus Peirce: Models for a Semiotics of Visual Art’, The New Art History, eds. A. L. Rees and Frances Borzello (Camden Press, 1986), pp. 82–94.

67. Wendell V. Harris, ‘On Being Sure of Saussure’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1983, 41, 4, 387–97.

68. Jeffrey Barnouw, ‘Signification and Meaning: A Critique of the Saussurean Conception of the Sign’, Comparative Literature Studies 18/3, Papers of the Seventh Triennial Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (Sept. 1981), pp. 260–71.

69. Edwin Ardener, ‘The Level of Explanation’, excerpt from ‘Introductory Essay: Social Anthropology and Language’, Social Anthropology and Language, ed. Edwin Ardener (Tavistock, 1971), pp. xxx–lxviii, lxxxiv–cii.

70. Caroline Humphrey, ‘Some Ideas of Saussure Applied to Buryat Magical Drawings’, Social Anthropology and Language, ed. Edwin Ardener (Tavistock, 1971), pp. 271–90.

71. Carlo Montaleone, ‘Dance with Her: Some Notes on the "Panda Principle", Saussure and Davidson’, Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure, 2006, 59, 131–50.

72. Rose Galvin, ‘The Function of Language in the Creation and Liberation of Disabled Identities: From Saussure to Contemporary Strategies of Government’, Australian Journal of Communication, 2003, 30, 3, 83–100.

73. David Schalkwyk, ‘Saussure, Names and the Gap between Word and World’, Journal of Literary Semantics, 1995, 24, 2, 127–48.

74. Colin Falck, ‘Saussurian Theory and the Abolition of Reality’, The Monist, 1986, 69, 1, 133–45.

75. Fred C. C. Peng, ‘On de Saussure’s Theoretical Construct of Le Signe: A Neurolinguistic View’, Journal of Neurolinguistics, 1992, 7, 1–2, 1–9.

76. Marya Mazor, ‘Really Relativism: Dialectic Interpretations of Saussure’, Language and Communication, 1989, 9, 1, 11–21.

77. Brenda Bollag, ‘Words on the Screen: The Problem of the Linguistic Sign in the Cinema’, Semiotica, 1988, 72, 1–2, 71–90.

About the Series

Critical Assessments of Leading Linguists

The Critical Concepts of Leading Linguists series brings together research material on the most influential thinkers in the field of linguistics. The series includes texts on Noam Chomsky and Leonard Bloomfield. New editions to the series include a text on the founder of twentieth-century language science, Ferdinand de Saussure, as well as the Russian linguist, Roman Jakobson.

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