Ferdinand Saussure and Edward Said: Discussing Language and Its Position in Our Lives College

Within this essay, I will discuss extracts from both Ferdinand Saussure and Edward Said, both discussing language and its position in our lives. For instance, within Saussure’s text, we are presented with the idea that language only has a meaningful part in human lives if both sound and thought are combined; without each other, language is a “vague, uncharted nebula.[1]” Moreover we see that in Said’s work, language has the power to create illusions of truth which promotes western colonialization and racism. What is interesting to note and which I plan to discuss is the way in which both theorists demonstrate and criticise how two concepts with an arbitrary relationship come into cultures to be believed as common sense. Two concepts which Saussure draws upon in the extract are ideas and sounds.

To begin with, Saussure describes language as a “only a system of pure values[2]” which instantly suggest to us that language is a construction of meanings which we invent. Meanings in language, in Saussure’s view, are formed by the combination of ideas and sounds and are essentially useless without each other. Developing from this, we can see here that as we have invented meanings, the relationship between the sound and the thought is...

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