For Saussure, words are arbitrary: there is no particular reason for choosing a certain sound (signifier) for a certain concept (signified). Critics often reinterpret Saussure's traditional statement as applying also to the relation between concepts and referents. Through a historical survey of the controversy and examination of Saussure's work, Poole shows how it is partially correct to attribute the _notion_ of the arbitrariness of the concept to Saussure. He sides however with critics who view Saussure's statements on arbitrariness as applying exclusively to the signifier. Poole explains the above reinterpretation through the interest in linguistic determinism and shows how it was accompanied by a questionable minimization of Saussure's insistence on the arbitrariness of the signifier in order to emphasize the impact of language as a system of signifiers on concepts. He finally discusses Saussure's complex and at times contradictory views on the relation between language, thought and reality

Saussure and the Arbitrariness of Language: A Review of the Debate

POOLE, Gabriele
2012

Abstract

For Saussure, words are arbitrary: there is no particular reason for choosing a certain sound (signifier) for a certain concept (signified). Critics often reinterpret Saussure's traditional statement as applying also to the relation between concepts and referents. Through a historical survey of the controversy and examination of Saussure's work, Poole shows how it is partially correct to attribute the _notion_ of the arbitrariness of the concept to Saussure. He sides however with critics who view Saussure's statements on arbitrariness as applying exclusively to the signifier. Poole explains the above reinterpretation through the interest in linguistic determinism and shows how it was accompanied by a questionable minimization of Saussure's insistence on the arbitrariness of the signifier in order to emphasize the impact of language as a system of signifiers on concepts. He finally discusses Saussure's complex and at times contradictory views on the relation between language, thought and reality
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11580/24371
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