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Abstract

On a number of occasions, Saussure made the statement that nothing is given in linguistics. He meant by this remark (see Culler, 1977) that meaning was largely carried by the relation between words rather than by the words themselves. Unlike sign language which has a certain fixed, iconic quality—the sign for a lie in Plains Indian, for example, is two fingers extended across the lips, or two tongues—signs in written and spoken language are largely arbitrary. Because they are not isomorphic with the signified, they can change with each utterance, and Culler (1977) makes clear how the meaning of any given word is always constrained by the surrounding features in the sentence.

Keywords

Target Word Concerned Group Background Factor Individual Word Word Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald P. Spence
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Medicine and Dentistry of New JerseyRutgers Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA

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