Sound-image  

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

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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 original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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