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Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure
Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure

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In Course in General Linguistics, the focus of Ferdinand de Saussure's investigation is the linguistic unit or sign.

The sign (signe) is described as a "double entity", made up of the signifier, or sound image (signifiant), and the signified, or concept (signifié). The sound image is a psychological, not a material concept, belonging to the system. Both components of the linguistic sign are inseparable. One way to appreciate this is to think of them as being like either side of a piece of paper – one side simply cannot exist without the other.

The relationship between signifier and signified is, however, not quite that simple. Saussure is adamant that language cannot be considered a collection of names for a collection of objects (as where Adam is said to have named the animals). According to Saussure, language is not a nomenclature. Indeed, the basic insight of Saussure's thought is that denotation, the reference to objects in some universe of discourse, is mediated by system-internal relations of difference.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sound-image" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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