Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) is generally considered one of the main
founders of modern linguistics and semiotics. The book that was derived
from his teaching, the Course in General Linguistics, had a lasting impact
on the intellectual life of the 20th century and remains today an object of
debates and controversies.
This Guide for the Perplexed introduces the reader to the ways in which
Saussure developed his revolutionary insights on language in the context of
the linguistics of his time. It also provides clear definitions and
explanations of the basic notions that form the substance of his work, with
relevant examples of how they apply to the understanding of language and
other symbolic systems. The book demonstrates how Saussure’s ideas
have subsequently been used in the humanities and social sciences. It
concludes by pointing to the continuing relevance of the theoretical and
practical problems that were articulated by Saussure.
This is the ideal book for those studying Saussure, structural linguistics
or semantics and semiotics, offering a clear overview and explanation of
all the key aspects of this fascinating linguist's work.
"During the last decade, the tide has turned in Saussure studies. No longer
the reference point of a half-baked structuralism (and some even more
foolish cultural theory) based on a book he never even wrote, Saussure is
coming to be regarded as a remarkable linguist in his own right, making a
significant contribution to the understanding of communication and culture.
The current volume, by someone who is not just a competent semiotician but
a giant of contemporary semiotics, explains and assesses Saussure's
bequest to sign study. Paul Bouissac's Saussure: A Guide for the Perplexed
prints the bigger picture, not just the legend, and helps to open up a whole
new era in the analysis of the cultural sign."
Paul Cobley, Reader in Communications London Metropolitan University, UK