chapter  1
24 Pages

Language Development from an Evolutionary Perspective

ByMichael Studdert-Kennedy

In his famous course oflectures at the University of Geneva (1906-1911), de Saussure distinguished langue, language as a system, a cultural institution, from parole, language as spoken and heard by individuals: " ... language is not complete in any speaker; it exists only within a collectivity . . . only by virtue of a sort of contract signed by members of a community" (de Saussure, 1966, p. 14). Language thus was seen as an abstract property of a group, related to its variable individual speakers somewhat as a species is to its variable individual members.