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Open Access From Philology to Linguistics: The Influence of Saussure in the Development of Semantics

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Abstract

It is true that Semantics as a linguistic discipline owes a great deal to Saussure and there are a considerable number of structuralist and functionalist methodologies deriving from the Saussurean legacy which have a fundamental application in the scientific development of semantics and the study of the lexicon, including structural semantics, lexematics, functional semantics, axiological semantics and mixed semantics. However, in spite of the transcendence for the development of modern semantics of many ideas, concepts and terms articulated in the works of Saussure, basically the distinction between signification and value and the notions of system and associative network, it is striking that in modern-day linguistics, little or nothing remains of the influence of the Genevan master as is clearly shown by the almost total lack of representativity of the issues dealt with in structuralist and functionalist linguistics. For this reason, one might ask what remains of Saussure in modern-day semantics and what new horizons are being sought by modern semantics. The fact is that modern semantics, especially lexical semantics, has been restructured in order to deal with aspects of a very different semantics from the classical, basically paradigmatic type, in order to compensate for these limitations and analyse the syntagmatic component of the meaning and the different aspects situated in the lexico-syntactic interface; in order to deal with variationism from a lexical standpoint using semantic approaches related to sociolinguistics; to develop the field of word-formation from the viewpoint of the meaning; as a theoretical base for disciplines such as terminology, neology, and at least the larger part of phraseology (such as the area of idioms), and, more recently, in order to carry out research on the neurocognitive dimension of the lexicon.
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Keywords: General Linguistics; Historiography of Linguistics; Lexical Semantics; Saussure; Semantics; Terminology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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  • Philology is an international peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of human traditions as they emerge from oral, written, carved, painted, digital, performed, ancient, contemporary texts. The journal aspires to challenge and reformulate the expression of philological studies in the present day. We propose that the contemporary world be understood in its multicultural complexity, and thus that philology be re-founded as a relevant social science. To this end, we encourage constant dialogue with the methodologies of other disciplines, including linguistics, cultural anthropology, archaeology, paleoethnology, genetics and cultural biology. Philology promotes all efforts to go beyond the traditional boundaries of our habitual fields of enquiry, with the purpose of accomplishing anti-dogmatic and unprejudiced tools for facing the challenges of contemporaneity. The journal is open to a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches, from the study of linguistic evolution to literary interpretation, from textual criticism to the investigation of texts and ethnotexts, from etymological reconstructions to the cognitive analyses of archaeological facies. Philological problems exist in the grammar of signs inscribed on a prehistoric stone or a shamanic drum no less than they do in the transmission of a text from one old manuscript to another.
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