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Ferdinand de Saussure
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Philosopher
    (November 26, 1857-February 22, 1913)
    Born in Geneva, Switzerland
    Widely considered one of the founders of 20th Century linguistics
    One of the two major founders of semiotics/semiology (the other is Charles Sanders Peirce)
    Devised the terms 'parole' (speech of the individual person), 'langue' (system underlying speech activity), 'signifier' (word that means something), and 'signified' (thing that defines a word)
    Ideas contributed to the development of structuralism, which seeks to understand elements of human culture in terms of their relationship to the larger structure
    Wrote 'Dissertation on the Primitive Vowel System in Indo-European Languages' (1878), 'On the Use of the Genitive Absolute in Sanskrit: Doctoral dissertation presented to the Faculty of Philosophy of Leipzig University' (1881), and 'Course in General Linguistics' (1916)
    Received doctorate from Leipzig University (February 1880)
    Taught at École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris (1881-1891)
    Died in Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland
    His ideas have been criticized for their outdated approach to linguistics since the latter half of the 20th Century.
    'Course in General Linguistics' is actually a collection of notes taken by his students who attended his lectures.
    The influence of structuralism in fields outside of linguistics have led many to believe that it has lost ground in linguistics.
    His ideas on structualism doesn't seem to address how social praxis, which puts theories into genuine practice, applies to the already existing structure.
    Thanks to some critics who didn't carefully study his work, there's a prevalent stereotype that his ideas overlooked the changing tendencies of culture over time.
    He learned English, French, German, Greek, and Latin by the age of 15.
    According to Prague school linguist Jan Mukařovský, his 'discovery of the internal structure of the linguistic sign' opened new perspectives in literature as well as linguistics.
    His laryngeal theory on the nature of Proto-Indo-European proved to be correct upon the decipherment of Hittite.
    He established linguistics as an independent field of study as opposed to a mere branch of history.
    He came from a family famous for producing a long line of successful scientists and scholars, of which he is one of them.

Credit: Big Lenny


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