Author Topic: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation  (Read 2259 times)

Offline Daniel

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"Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« on: January 15, 2014, 11:37:04 AM »
I'd specifically like the find the original place where language was defined as a "pairing of form and meaning". I think this may be de Saussure, but that also could be a translated/reinterpreted version never found in the original, so I'd probably like the look at the original version or perhaps if there is a single source that originally phrased/interpreted it that way.
Any European language is fine.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 08:57:45 PM »
After searching around a bit I've come across this:
Quote from: de Saussure (1916)
Un système linguistique est une série de différences de sons combinées avec une série de différences d'idées.
"A linguistic system is a series of differences of sounds combined with a series of differences of ideas"


That's roughly what I'm after. The passage is talking about the arbitrariness of the sign and specifically the negative (=contrastive) definition of parts of the system (signifiers, signifieds).
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Offline lx

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 01:17:36 PM »
I would have guessed it was good ole Ferdinand, too. :)

Offline MalFet

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 02:02:44 PM »
In the west, Saussure's work first articulated the nature of linguistic category, but the idea of language as a combination of form and meaning is as old as the hills. Plato talks about it in Cratylus as an already old notion.

Offline Daniel

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 07:30:35 PM »
Thanks for the info.

I will look for what Plato had to say on the subject as well.

I'm looking for an explicit quotation about this from a relatively foundational linguistic. I'm not strictly looking to track the academic history of the idea, but rather to "go to the source" for what may become an epigraph or opening citation in the text. It's about why I'm doing this, not that I'm strictly following that line of research (I do, however, agree with that much though!).
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Offline MalFet

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 04:47:08 PM »
Unfortunately, there's not really an "original" citation here. The idea was well established in pre-socratic philosophy, and those writings are mostly lost. If you're just looking for a quote, pretty much any text on language from any period of time will have some account of word/thing correspondence. I'm traveling at the moment and don't have access to my copy of Cratylus, but there's probably a good quote about 2/3s of the way through when Socrates and Hermogenes start arguing about "law-givers".

Offline Daniel

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Re: "Pair of form and meaning" original citation
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 07:16:55 PM »
Thanks.

Quote
If you're just looking for a quote, pretty much any text on language from any period of time will have some account of word/thing correspondence.
Indeed.


I did look through Cratylus and saw some potentially relevant sections. Of course some are long paragraphs with specific details, but I'll work that out.

The two results (one from Cratylus and the other from Saussure) are sufficient I think, although I've also learned some interesting things along the way. It's certainly an obvious and intuitive idea, but my thoughts are now about what we should do, given that assumption.
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