Sign, Sign, Everywhere a sign- Saussure

January 31, 2007

For starters, was it just me or were the circle pictures with arrows not as helpful as they were intended to be? Probably just me.  Also, I will do whatever it takes to help semiology become a real science, because I think it’s a travesty that it’s not.  One more thing, on page 967 language is compared to a piece of paper.  I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of anything being compared to a piece of paper.  But seriously…

I was a little worried after I finished reading this piece. I got done, and I thought about it, and some of the things I had read were still with me and were making sense.  A feeling I’m sure which won’t continue in this class.

It’s interesting to see someone who just comes out and says that language is arbitrary, “the bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary” (964)  In a sense I agree with this.  Our labeling process is somewhat arbitrary, a tree is a tree because we say it’s a tree.  If we had decided that a tree should be a monkey, then it would be a monkey.  This goes along with what he writes on 967 “There are no pre-existing ideas, and nothing is distinct before the appearance of language.”  Before anyone learns language they don’t know what anything is supposed to be, and it is only through being brought up with a language and a set identifiers that a person learns anything and is able to identify it.

On page 969 he writes “language is a system of interdependent terms in which the value of each term results solely from the simultaneous presence of the others” (then it goes into one of those circle pictures)  Which again I suppose makes sense.  Our words wouldn’t make sense if there wern’t any other words.  So I guess languages with only 1 word wouldn’t be very good.

So I managed to make it through it a reading without feeling completely confused and overwhelmed. Here’s hoping we can keep this streak going


2 Responses to “Sign, Sign, Everywhere a sign- Saussure”

  1. brett glasser said

    Again I find myself agreeing with your analysis of this tricky stuff. First, I felt that Saussures passion to make Semiology a permanent science is one that I can get behind as well. This guy did start to make sense more than the others. However, I still need these diagrams cleared up a bit. Yet, this guy does have a descent grasp on how language and speech should be viewed and studied. As a future teacher I definitly feel that Im going to give this guy a second look.

  2. Ryan, I am soooooo with you on the pictures. As I was reading, I was staring at them, not able to even comprehend that they were related to the text surrounding them. For some strange reason they were more entertaining than informative. I’m also with you on the arbitraryness of language. Language seems to be one of those things that you simply take for granted and not spend too much time thinking about it. I guess that’s the reason for this course, it helps us to take seemingly basic ideas and analyze them to see how they shape our lives. I think you had a great reading of the text (perhaps this is because your reading agrees completely with mine), and I also hope for all of our sakes that we can continue with similar success!

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