Saussure, langue ja kielitodellisuuden kaaos

Saussure's langue as structured heterogeneity

The publication of Rudolf Engler's synoptic edition (CLG/E, 1968–74) actualised the need to distinguish between the authentic Ferdinand de Saussure and the virtual person Ferdinand de Cours, embodying the tradition based on a selective reading of the 'vulgate' Cours compiled by Bally and Sechehaye (CLG, 1916). A telling case is the concept of langue. While F. de Cours – though not necessarily the Cours itself! – presents langue as a closed system (schema), F. de Saussure appears to use the term to refer both to language (as explanandum) and to its theoretical description (explanans). The methodological aspect of langue can be traced to Mémoir (1878). In fact, A. Meillet's characterisation of langue as a whole où tout se tient refers to the Indo-European proto-language as reconstructed by de Saussure. The structuralist view of language as a closed, quasi-mathematical system stems from attributing methodological properties of the descriptive tool to the object of description. It is argued that Saussure left open the ontological aspect of langue. As a (Durkheimian) social fact, langue must include areal, social, and stylistic variation in it, because all the different registers are conventional. We must not forget that, for Saussure, the ultimate object (explanandum) of linguistics was langage, the complex, heterogeneous, and chaotic aspect of langue. Given this, langue can scarcely be construed as a homogeneous entity, either.

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