Language, Saussure and Wittgenstein (1988)

   •Roy Harris

Hardcover: 152 pages
ISBN: 0415052254

Saussure as a linguist and Wittgenstein as a philosopher of language are arguably the two most important figures in the development of 20th-century linguistic thought. Each was a revolutionary within his own discipline. Each had a far-reaching influence outside his own discipline. Each has given rise, independently, to a large corpus of interpretation, exegesis and criticism. Surprisingly, however, little attempt has been made hitherto to interrelate these two thinkers or make a detailed comparison of their views about language. By pointing out what their ideas have in common, in spite of emanating from very different intellectual sources, this study breaks new ground. It also raises challenging questions about the radical break which the work of Saussure and Wittgenstein provoked with traditional assumptions about the role of language in human affairs. It thus broaches topics of interest to historians, social anthropologists and students of literature as well as to linguists and philosophers.

– ‘should be read by all scholars concerned about the relationship of language to the shape of the modern world’: William Washabaugh in Multilingua

– ‘beautifully written, full of apt and witty illustrations and thorough in its scholarship’: International Studies in Philosophy


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© Roy Harris, Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, Oxford, 2010-2015