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A Macat Analysis of Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics

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Length: 1 hr and 52 mins
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Edited and produced from the lecture notes of his students at the University of Geneva, Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics was first published in 1916, three years after his death. The book aims to explain Saussure's theory that all languages share an underlying structure, and that this underlying structure is the same, regardless of historical or cultural context. Although the book marked a break with the traditional, history-focused study of linguistics of the time, Saussure still uses examples based on more traditional studies. He describes the mechanism of how words can mean things, using a three-part structure of signifier, signified, and sign. The signifier is a word or symbol; the signified is the thing that word or symbol refers to; and the sign is the combination of both. Saussure also draws a distinction between specific speech acts and the larger system of language that is the basis for speech. His ideas have had a huge influence in the study of linguistics ever since.

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  • Two Fathoms
  • 16-06-18


In theory, these types of analyses could be (and should be) very useful. In an hour and a half, more or less, you could get a very in-depth explanation of the works of most major scholarly contributions. However, Macat doesn't provide that. Rather, the first 10 minutes provides a very minimal summary of Saussure's life and ideas (minimal in the sense that skimming through the wikipedia page on Saussure for a few minutes will give you a much more comprehensive understanding of his ideas). After that, this "analysis" repeats those first 10 minutes in different ways for the next hour and a half. Each module says almost the exact same 3 pieces of information of Saussure to the point where listening is unbearable. The same few points are repeated again, and again, and again, and again, in almost the same words. This is a waste of time and money, and I really can't believe that someone would take the time to write and record this. Skim the wikipedia page and you'll know more about Saussure.

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