chapter  1
Corporeal Complexity The Matter of the Sign
Pages 44

The Course in General Linguistics (Saussure 1974)1 has been described as “the Magna Carta of modern linguistics” (Harris 1987: x), “an almost‘Copernican revolution’in the study of language” (Koerner 1973: 9), the ancestral text that “forms the groundbase on which most contemporary structuralist think­ ing now rests” (Hawkes 1977: 19). Yet the work that purportedly initiates a paradigm shift in modern thought is strangely orphaned. Routinely attrib­ uted to the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the Course was not actually written by him. First published in 1916, it was a compilation of students’ notes that was posthumously conceived-born from the efforts of two col­ leagues who had not themselves attended Saussure’s classes.