Anthropology : Signs And Symbols Midterm Essays

1898 Words Oct 19th, 2015 8 Pages
Anthropology 3308- Signs and Symbols Midterm

Question #1: Ferdinand de Saussure famously argued that “the bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary.” What does he mean by this and what evidence does he cite to support his position? Are there any problems with Saussure 's claim?

Ferdinand de Saussure passed away in 1913 prior to being able to publish his works, but through the collection of lectures and notes his students published his theory of linguistics in a book in 1915 entitled “A Course in General Linguistics”. Saussure suggested a theory of linguistics which has two basic principles, the first is the arbitrary nature of signs, while the second is the linear nature of the signifier. Ferdinand de Saussure suggests that signs are arbitrary because the bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. An example of this is that the idea of “dog” is not linked to the sound of the word, the connection between the sound of the word “dog” and the symbol it evokes in your mind is a matter of societal convention. A signifier without a signified has no meaning, and the signified changes with person and context. Although the use of the word arbitrary should not imply that the decision to use a signifier be left entirely up to the speaker, rather it implies that the choice is unmotivated, it is arbitrary in that it has no natural connection with the signified. Additionally, the signifier is of a linear nature because the auditory signifiers have at…

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