Others, including Levi- Strauss in “Structural Anthropology”, have used
Saussure’s methodology to develop their own models for study in different aspects of
human society. But Levi- Strauss takes the methodology one step further by explicitly
trying to answer the anthropological questions based on Saussure’s work: which in the
case of linguistics would be “Why does language exist?” and “What do the differences
we distinguish between languages tell us about the people who use it?”
The answer to the first question for Saussure, I speculate, is human desire to
communicate. When evaluating linguistics, Saussure makes an extremely convincing
argument that there is an arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the signified,
and that it is language itself that evolves over time to develop those distinctions and
provide signs their own relative values. In doing so, he disregards the need to even try to
develop a system that maps actual tangible examples of language use against one another
because, as Saussure mentions, there are always counterexamples. But Saussure never
tries to explain why those tangible differences exist or why, despite these differences,...
... middle of paper ...
...er English signs may also have been
affected? And what conclusions can we draw from these changes about the English speaking
people over this time period?
This becomes an engineering design problem if we take the vantage point that
society is the engineer. Going back to the Levi-Strauss model, English speakers wanted
to maintain an effective and convenient way to express the idea of feet, but because of
some change, society felt a need to adjust the sign’s meaning. As a modern linguistic
engineer, we might ask ourselves what led to this specific change and what possible
conclusions can we draw from this about English society?
The structuralist method developed by Saussure has a lot of potential
applications that could be a very effective tool in many fields of study. I just mentioned a
few possible implementations and possible results that could come of it.
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