Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages

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Ferdinand de Saussure

portrait de Ferdinand de Saussure

(Switzerland 1857-1913)

The Swiss linguist is widely considered to be the founder of modern linguistics. He emphasised the arbitrary nature of the sign, created through the association of a phonological sound (signifier) and a concept (signified). Saussure developed structural linguistics, based on the notion of the value of the sign/signifier relationship, i.e., the interdependence of other items in the language which delimit the meaning of one particular sign, and the organisational principles of syntagmatic relations (strings of signs) and paradigmatic relations (sets of signs). His work later influenced Bloomfieldian or American structuralism and through this school, foreign language teaching methods such as the Audiolingual Method.

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