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00159--Structuralism—the Saussurean Principles [Langue and Parole/Signifier and Signified/Synchronic and Diachronic/Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic]


                                                              
Structuralism—the Saussurean Principles

Structural linguistics is an approach to linguistics. Principles of structural-functional linguistics were based on the lecture notes of Swiss linguist FERDINAND DE SAUSSURE.  His major work is Course de Linguistique Generale [Course on General Linguistics].  The following are the linguistic binaries that constitute the basic principles of structural linguistics.  This structural linguistics is relevant in literary criticism because this can be used for interpreting a text in other words structuralist interpretation of a text. 

1. Langue and Parole [language structure vs. speaking in a language],
2. Signifier and Signified,
3. Synchronic and Diachronic, and,
4. Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic.

1. Langue and Parole [language structure vs. speaking in a language]

While making distinctions between the linguistic system and its actual manifestations we arrive at the crucial opposition between LANGUE and PAROLE.

Langage = as the general capacity that distinguishes man from the animal. 

Langue = as language structure which consists of vocabulary, principles of construction, idioms, rules of pronunciation, etc.

Parole= as language, both speech and writing used in a context.

Langue is the property of the society while Parole is an individual’s property.  Langue is fixed while Parole is free from restrictions like grammar or rules of pronunciation.  Langue –Parole distinction has formed a basis for all later structuralist model of linguistics.


2. The arbitrariness of the sign
SIGN







The linguistic sign is an arbitrary linkage between a signifier and a signified.       
Signifier=sound-image
Signified=concept
According to Saussure there is no natural connection between sound-image and concepts.  There is nothing cat-like in the word cat. 
Here is a linguistic example:
Sign: the written word tree
Signifier: the letters t-r-e-e
Signified: the category tree

3. The Diachronic and the Synchronic Study of Language  [history vs. structure]

Saussure argued that there is a need for a radical distinction between the two branches of linguistics; synchronic and diachronic linguistics.


Synchronic linguistics studies 'Langue'.  Synchronic linguistics is a system that is psychologically real.  It is the study of language in a particular state at a point of time.  It is the study of fixed language.

Diachronic linguistics is concerned with 'Parole" and the relations of succession between individual items. Diachronic linguistics is not systematic and it is the study of language of its evolution in time.


4. The Oppositional Structure of Language [Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic]

Language is a set of oppositions without positive terms.  The arbitrariness of the sign is limited by the systematic nature of sign systems.  The signs that make up a language stand in opposition to each other.  

There are two structural relations between signs:
1. the Syntagmatic, and,
2. the Paradigmatic.

SYNTAGMATIC  RELATIONSHIP IS LINEAR.
PARADIGMATIC RELATIONSHIP IS  ASSOCIATIVE. 

 Syntagmatic Relationship 
In the  syntagmatic relationship, units as sounds, phrases, clauses, sentences and discourses are chained together in a fixed sequence and combination, and they get their force by standing in opposition to what precedes or follows them.  This relationship holds at various levels of language.  The following example shows it at the sound level.  take a simple word like 'cat'.  The word consists of three units: the phonemes /k/, /ӕ/, /t/.  
The relationship that exists between these three units is Syntagmatic

 PARADIGMATIC RELATIONSHIP
Paradigmatic relationship on the otherhand, refers to the relationship that holds between units that are there and the units that are not there but potentially could have been there.  The first unit of the word cat is /k/.  There are many other sounds which could have come at this place, for instance /p/ or /b/ or /m/ giving words like pat, bat and mat.  These probable candidates are paradigmatic.

Syntagmatc relationship is the relationship in PRESENTIA . 
The Paradigmatic relationship is the relationship in ABSENTIA.

The Two Relationships-- a diagramatical presentation.





                                                                                         


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