Saussure, Ferdinand de

Saussure, Ferdinand de

biographical name

(born Nov. 26, 1857, Geneva, Switz.—died Feb. 22, 1913, Geneva) Swiss linguist. Though his only written work appeared while he was still a university student, Saussure became very influential as a teacher, principally at the University of Geneva (1901–13). Two of his students reconstructed lecture notes and other materials as Course in General Linguistics (1916), often considered the starting point of 20th-century linguistics. He saw language as a structured system that may be approached both as it exists at a particular time and as it changes over time, and he formalized principles and methods of study for each approach. His concepts may be regarded as the beginning of structuralism.

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