The connection between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary.
I’m almost never serious, and I’m always too serious. Too deep, too shallow. Too sensitive, too cold hearted. I’m like a collection of paradoxes.
The ultimate law of language is, dare we say, that nothing can ever reside in a single term. This is a direct consequence of the fact that linguistic signs are unrelated to what they designate and that, therefore, ‘a’ cannot designate anything without the the aid of ‘b’ and vice versa, or, in other words, that both have value only by the difference between them.
Without language, thought is a vague, uncharted nebula.
Time changes all things; there is no reason why language should escape this universal law
A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas…
Speech has both an individual and a social side, and we cannot conceive of one without the other.
Language furnishes the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent.
Written forms obscure our view of language. They are not so much a garment as a disguise.
In the lives of individuals and societies, language is a factor of greater importance than any other. For the study of language to remain solely the business of a handful of specialists would be a quite unacceptable state of affairs.
Nearly all institutions, it might be said, are based on signs, but these signs do not directly evoke things.
Within speech, words are subject to a kind of relation that is independent of the first and based on their linkage: these are syntagmatic relations, of which I have spoken.
Psychologically our thought-apart from its expression in words-is only a shapeless and indistinct mass.
A language presupposes that all the individual users possess the organs.
Outside speech, the association that is made in the memory between words having something in common creates different groups, series, families, within which very diverse relations obtain but belonging to a single category: these are associative relations.
Of all social institutions language is least amenable to initiative. It blends with the life of society, and the latter, inert by nature, is a prime conservative force.
It is useful to the historian, among others, to be able to see the commonest forms of different phenomena, whether phonetic, morphological or other, and how language lives, carries on and changes over time.
Henceforth, language studies were no longer directed merely towards correcting grammar.
Any psychology of sign systems will be part of social psychology – that is to say, will be exclusively social; it will involve the same psychology as is applicable in the case of languages.
It is only since linguistics has become more aware of its object of study, i.e. perceives the whole extent of it, that it is evident that this science can make a contribution to a range of studies that will be of interest to almost anyone.
Everyone, left to his own devices, forms an idea about what goes on in language which is very far from the truth.
It is one of the aims of linguistics to define itself, to recognise what belongs within its domain. In those cases where it relies upon psychology, it will do so indirectly, remaining independent.
In fact, from then on scholars engaged in a kind of game of comparing different Indo-European languages with one another, and eventually they could not fail to wonder what exactly these connections showed, and how they should be interpreted in concrete terms.
The first of these phases is that of grammar, invented by the Greeks and carried on unchanged by the French. It never had any philosophical view of a language as such.
The critical principle demanded an examination, for instance, of the contribution of different periods, thus to some extent embarking on historical linguistics.