Course in General Linguistics
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Course in General Linguistics (Seri ILDEP #35)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,406 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The Cours de linguistique generale, reconstructed from students' notes after Saussure's death in 1913, founded modern linguistic theory by breaking the study of language free from a merely historical and comparativist approach. Saussure's new method, now known as Structuralism, has since been applied to such diverse areas as art, architecture, folklore, literary criticism,...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published December 30th 1998 by Open Court (first published 1916)
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Course in General Linguistics by Ferdinand de SaussureThe Stuff of Thought by Steven PinkerAn Introduction to Language by Victoria A. FromkinThe Language Instinct by Steven PinkerThe Loom of Language by Frederick Bodmer
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Community Reviews

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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
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Q: I’ve recently become particulary interested in structural linguistics, more specifically laryngeal theory. I’m wondering if anyone has read something on why the original laryngeals have disappeared? ...assuming they existed, of course.

And then my A: All I’m familiar with regarding structural linguistics is the foundational text of Saussure’s, Course in General Linguistics, which when I read it a few year ago I mostly found to be tedious and unsurprising. I can appreciate it as a...more
Can't believe it took me so long to read this! It's so foundational to so much theory, and when you read it you will see how (it's not the same hearing about that, but isn't that always true?). And only reading it did I fully realize that I wasn't reading Saussure at all, but what his students and colleagues thought was Saussure, which clearly is something different and quite collective and thus possibly cooler than Saussure. So no one should just throw the name around as he's not a person anymo...more
Short of calling it a pioneer text, it's difficult to really say much else about Saussure's Course in General Linguistics. As dated as most of the ideas contained within this book are, most of them stand as the founding concepts of linguistics, semiotics, and structuralism. Or, a more grammatically apt way to put it would be to say that it is Saussure's particular methodology that has been the most influential aspect of his thought. His central aim above all else is to analyze language as a syst...more
Oct 13, 2010 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: speechifying robots
This is an interesting book. The thinker behind the ideas within it was dead when it was written, and it was composed by former students from lecture notes. While reading it, one begins to presume a singular, living voice behind the ideas within; ideas that have been discussed, dissected, and evaluated to the point where this original formulation has lost its currency and its value is now that of an artefact or touchstone. The sad thing of monuments is that they are never free from piss; the fac...more
Long seller con cui chiunque abbia a che fare con date scienze umane doverosamente si imbatte, opera pluritradotta, base, culla, pietra angolare della linguistica, è davvero da presuntuosi pretendere commentarla.
Ventiduenne e laureando, l'autore si sente domandare da un dotto professore di Lipsia se per caso è parente del grande linguista svizzero Ferdinand De Saussure... Credo non serva sapere altro per valutare la portata di questa figura.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of this book. It is significant not only for laying down a radical vision of linguistics as a discipline for the 20th and 21st centuries, but it also lays the foundations for all modern approaches to semiotics. Certainly Peirce had made a similar breakthrough in semiotics at around the same time, but his theory was not backed up by such a rich understanding of the study of linguistics - its sub-fields and divisions, the progress it had made, it...more
I can't but rate such book by full stars. It's simply a reference to all who's interested in linguistic studies, simple enough for an amateur and essential for a professional. As we all know it's not Saussure himself who wrote this book, which is an amazing fact for its own account, for now we're reading the believes and the understanding of his students about this subject matter.
The great thing about the general course of linguistic is that it tackles all the important parts of this fields, it...more
Philip Naw
The book is fun to read, although the material is extremely dated. The work Saussure does in this book hardly looks like contemporary linguistics. But, for the student of history, and to better understand the origins of linguistics today, this book presents itself as an interesting read.

Also, the book is fun because it covers Saussure's famous 'signifier' and 'signified.' The theory is not as technically brutal as contemporary linguistics, but it still gets your mind working!

One more thing, an...more
Não li este livro de livre e espontânea vontade. Era obrigatório para a minha licenciatura, mas gostei. E gostei porque faz sentido e as coisas estão explicadas de forma muito simples, directa. Achei este livro muito mais acessível do que as obras de Chomsky ou de Halliday.

Considero que o que interessa mesmo neste livro está no Capítulo III da Introdução. O que mais gosto é a noção de signo linguístico: o signo linguístico estabelece a relação entre a linguagem e o pensamento e sem ele os humano...more
I want to preface this by mentioning that I only read the parts of this text that seemed to be about semiotics, rather than the parts about linguistics as such. De Saussure's text is really important to the foundations of semiotics as a discipline, and I was especially pleased to get clarification on the relationship between the sign, the signifier, and the signified. Otherwise, he had some smart insights on various things, but I think a general intro to semiology would be as useful. Obviously d...more
This book made easy a science which is so complicated, I loved the plain style and it helped me through my linguistic module, it explained well and was generally interesting. However, the information were a little crowded and the definitions were not very detailed or specific. Other than that, it was a goodread.
Pierre E. Loignon
Benveniste écrivait superbement, en 1954 : « le Cours de linguistique générale de Saussure (1916), livre posthume rédigé d’après des notes d’élèves, ensemble d’aperçus géniaux dont chacun appelle une exégèse et dont certains nourrissent encore la controverse, projetant la langue sur le plan d’une sémiologie universelle, ouvrant des vues auxquelles la pensée philosophique d’aujourd’hui s’éveille à peine ». (Problèmes… I, p.7)
Toujours un incontournable en linguistique, ces échos de la pensée de S...more
آية  مجدي
Feb 25, 2014 آية مجدي added it
Shelves: 2014
Leí la versión española de ese libro, Curso general de la lingüística, aunque es un libro tan pesado pero me ayudaba mucho en entender que es la Lingüística.
May 14, 2014 Yassine is currently reading it
this is an interesting book
I really enjoyed this book. It was a great introduction to linguistics and exactly what I was looking for. I had some difficulty with some of the terminology that was expected to be known but I took that as an opportunity to dig a little deeper. I also found phonemes difficult since there was no one there to tell me what the sounds were. I read this as a springboard for further research into structuralism and deconstuction; I am satisfied and would recommend this to others.
Good. Of specific note, the eBook edition was very well formatted for the media. In my readings, I've run across many a book which were obviously hastily converted for eBook distribution. These eBooks suffer from typographical errors and sloppy formatting. The "Course in General Linguistics," though, bucked the trend. Well done.

As for the content itself: It was good, I suppose. I read it a might bit quick, so I would prefer to go over it and re-read some sections.
I jumped into this because he is so important to the structuralist movement, but honestly this is nothing but a pile of arcane linguistics.

If you know nothing about linguistics and have no real interest in it avoid this. If you are interested in it's impacts on philosophy like I was, I would recommend reading a philosophy book that summarizes this book as opposed to actually reading it.

Reading this book did nothing for my understanding and just made me more confused.
Fantastic piece of mind-revolutionizing theory--i actually was introduced to Saussure through course work at uni. But I went and read this entire book for a project later. The ideas Saussure puts forth in his thinking about language are foundational to post-structural thinking. Grasping his framework and applying it to life was an intellectually liberating experience--a bit dry though sometimes.
Adam Lindberg
Dec 16, 2007 Adam Lindberg rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in sturcturalism or semiotics
The classic study of the subject. A worthwhile investment for anyone interested in questions about how language works. Of note: the Baskin versus the Harris translation is a difficult problem to solve. Each succeeds the other at certain points in their renderings. If possible, my recommendation would be to read them side-by-side. If I had to pick one, I'd say go with the Baskin.
Luis Salas
I'm not sure how I feel about Saussure; he's often credited with distinguishing between referents and their signifiers but he wasn't the only one at his time making this argument (e.g., Frege). I find him particularly obscure on the process by which we understand names. Nonetheless, he's an engaging read and I'd have to say I'd be interested in reading him again.
A very clear (despite some translation inconsistencies, apparently) outline of semiotics and the structure of language. Though not really how linguistics works anymore, a very useful book if you're at all interested in understanding how signs work. Plus the influence of Saussure on other humanities disciplines (ie film studies) is not to be underestimated.
Bill Sweet
I majored in linguistics, and I'm sure most of what I studied is long outdated, but this is the granddaddy of them all, the font of structuralism, which if though surpassed, still informs the discussion. Told Plato-like from the notes of his students, this is an amazing document, and an articulate Ur-text in a profoundly inarticulate field.
thank you, Prof. Paul Kockelman, for opening Pandora's Box on my research/study habits/curiosity: this led me to Barthes, which led me to Antonioni, which led me to Bachelard and Perec, and now... Drew Barrymore's autobio, "Little Girl Lost." Couldn't have done it without ya, Kock. thanks for all of the semiomemories...
Jonathan Arancibia
I know that including a sort of text book is kind of lame and a bit snobbish, but in my defense, this book, once I understood it, really changed the way in which I saw many things. The arbitrariness of the linguistic sign is the linchpin of this very important landmark in the study of language.
A surprisingly readable text from the Grandfather of modern linguistics, though this might be due to the fact that its a compilation of notes from his students rather than an intended text from his own hand. It's out of date, but it's importance to the field cannot be overstated.
Wendy Trevino
Considering how little I know about Linguistics as a discipline, the book's only moderately difficult to follow. Glad to know more about Linguistics and Structuralism, but I have to admit I'm even more glad to put the book away for a while.
William Durden
I've only read a couple sections of this book, and those sections have been thoroughly covered so many times in other works (intros to lit. theory, discussions of structuralism) that there was little point in reading it 'firsthand.'
Elizabeth Pyjov
I really enjoyed this technical linguistics book. I liked the metaphors and the feeling of a thinker analyzing language in a new way for the first time. It is not a fun text per say, unless you already enjoy linguistics.
Philip Gomez
Before you read anything on 20th century philosophy, you simply must read this. There is probably not a single field of study that has not been at least indirectly influenced by this book. Seriously.
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  • Syntactic Structures
  • Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language
  • Structural Anthropology
  • An Introduction to Language
  • Of Grammatology
  • The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays
  • How to Do Things with Words (William James Lectures)
  • Elements of Semiology
  • Écrits
  • Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech
  • A Course in Phonetics [With CDROM]
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language
  • Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution
  • Syntax: A Generative Introduction
  • Metaphors We Live By
  • The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages
  • The Study of Language
  • The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. Saussure is widely considered to be one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics and his ideas have had a monumental impact throughout the humanities and social sciences.
More about Ferdinand de Saussure...
Phonétique: Il Manoscritto Di Harvard Houghton Library B Ms Fr 266 (8) Mémoire Sur Le Système Primitif Des Voyelles Dans Les Langues Indo Européennes (French Edition) دوره زبان شناسی عمومی Saussure's Second Course of Lectures on General Linguistics (1908-09): From the Notebooks of Albert Riedlinger and Charles Patois Linguistik Und Semiologie

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