'This eternal wanderer': A non-dogmatic reading of Saussure

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Ferdinand de Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale (1916) has been widely received as a dogmatic text, putting forward a reductivist conception of the language system. Yet there are grounds for reading it very differently, as Roman Jakobson (1969) did when writing of Saussure’s “dynamic repugnance toward the ‘vanity’ of any ‘definitive thought’”. Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) blamed ‘structuralists’ (a label which, of course, gets applied to Jakobson himself) for turning Saussure’s linguistics of the continuous into a dogmatic “scientism of the discontinuous”. Meschonnic’s list of structuralist distortions of Saussure is the framework for the argument presented here in favour of a non-dogmatic reading of the Cours.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLe Cours de linguistique generale
Subtitle of host publicationReception, diffusion, traduction
EditorsJohn Joseph, Ekaterina Velmezova
Place of PublicationLausanne
PublisherUniversity of Lausanne, Cahiers de l'ILSL
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9782940607020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Publication series

NameCahiers de l'ILSL
ISSN (Print)1019-9446


  • Ferdinand de Saussure
  • structural linguistics
  • Roman Jakobson
  • Henri Meschonnic
  • langue and parole
  • syntagmatic and associative axes
  • synchrony and diachrony
  • iconicity


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