Esther’s Space- journey through my life

January 31, 2007

Saussure really is my boyfriend

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 8:14 am

I’m sure everyone’s blog starts with it this this week, but I LOVE SAUSSURE!! Okay, maybe I’m being a bit excessive with the exclamation marks, but I really do love him.

One problem I had with Saussure’s “Course in General Linguistics” was caring. I understand what he was saying and agree with his scholarship, but I cannot seem to incorporate the information into my life in any way. Once I had finished reading, my attitude was pretty much, “oh, okay, now I see……and what do I do with that information?” Perhaps I can use it to make myself look smart at cocktail parties, but, on the other hand, I would have to attend cocktail parties before I can illustrate my vast intelligence at them.

Throughout his writing, I truly appreciated Saussure’s use of examples. (The pictures, however, may have been purely for my own entertainment, because they expressed no intrinsic meaning to me) I’m pretty sure that this was a translated piece, so all that I say from here on is with this understanding: While generally useful, on page 975 I was completely lost by his examples of of phrases that “belong to language” (975) and “in which any change is prohibited by usage, even if we can single out their meaningful elements” (975). I believe the gist of what he is saying deals with the idea that even if you know the meaning of all of the words that make up a phrase, they do not independently necessarily represent the meaning of the whole phrase. However, since his example phrases were in French and I do not have any background in the language, they were not a great deal of use to me. So, I excavated the anals of my mind (ew) and found a few English-language phrases, perhaps someone could validate that they are what Saussure is referring to:

Esther’s Supa-Cool List of English-Language Phrases

  • cup of joe
  • dog and pony show
  • put your ducks in a row
  • wig out
  • wolf it down
  • [blank] is sick [i.e. that stereo]
  • catch a cab

Or, am I crazy and this in an entirely different genre of language completely unrelated to Saussure’s ideas?

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1 Comment »

  1. Hello – I think that the “Supa-Cool” list is the basic gist of what he was saying but I could also be crazy. Anyway, the reason for this comment is not too essential but I just wanted to say “yes!” to the fact that you said “put your ducks in a row.” That is such a great phrase. As is “colder than a gut-shot wolf carrying a number nine trap up hill in the dead of winter.” Now that might not be at all what Saussure was refering to, but when else in a Theory and Crit. class will I have the ability to write such things. Good post. -Nick

    Comment by nickperia — February 3, 2007 @ 4:11 pm


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