Structuralism, language and its contextual meaning

  Swiss linguist Ferinand de Saussure once explained language as being the central part of our culture, how we express our world. Our world and language is divided by culture, which is divided by different social norms. Words are derived from society’s social interactions and social influences. He considered language “as a natural organism” created by laws, or a social product. He continued stating that language is not a function to us as speakers, but more of a “premeditated act.” (Clarke R.)  According to Saussure, objects, signs and words do not have to be attached to particular concepts. So, there is no ideal tree, no ideal mountain, and no ideal moon, etc…They are what they are naturally, however, in language, they are each created fromone perspective to another, from one culture to another. He also mentioned that certain words derive and are used based on a society’s need, and these words will vary among different societies, among countries. For instance, he compared how the word meat is used in English and French. In English the word meat is related to beef and Ox, whereas in French the word boeuf describes them both. Below, I provided some examples of structuralism in language.

 Love and hate, the discussion during the debate concerning equal marriage, I believe exist as one, or one cannot exist without the other. I guess the point I’m trying to make is the concept of “hate” or I should say “apathy” cannot exist without the concept of love. Why does someone love? I see “apathy” as a lack of love, and love a lack of “apathy” And of course the relationship, and their meaning, will vary among cultures across the world, but I still think they exist because they’re opposite: happy/sad, strong/weak, tired/energetic… Other examples might include, a gray sky written in context to portray sadness. What else could this sky symbolize? Why is it gray and sad? Maybe because it is not a clear sky, portraying happiness, relief. When I think of the color yellow, I think of cowardliness. I also, however, think of its opposite, tell me if I’m wrong, navy blue, which from novels I’ve read, symbolizes bravery.

Ignorant and intelligent, at least the concept, can’t exist without the other. A proud character who starts out in a story ignorant of Native American culture, can either grow more ignorant( which, in my opinion wouldn’t develop the character that well or drive the plot) or grow more intelligent, informed ( a more dynamic character). Either way, the concept, or the decision of him or her increasing his knowledge of Native American’s customs is there, but it couldn’t be there without the concept of the character’s ignorance. As an author, I might think, this ignorant and proud man will be intelligent and humiliated before the story is said and done.

Source is listed below. As always, feel free to leave your opinions and/or facts. Have a nice day!

Clarke, Richard. Ferdinand De Saussure: Course In General Linguistics. 2009-2010 Notes 01. Web. 27 June 2013.

 Derek, 07/06.2013


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