Nature of the Linguistic Sign Dissertation

Nature of the Linguistic Sign

Human beings have different capabilities with reference to their potential of acquiring and using language. Language constitutes one of the most important elements that enables communications and determines the formation of relationships among different entities. It is in most instances viewed as a complicated structure of communication. Language refers to the organization of signs which could be illustrated as a synchronically rather than diachronically. I.e. It is composed of a set of relationships autonomous of any adjustments that come about over time. It is a social institution and therefore an independent entity which is basically not a factor of a speaker but a product which is gradually understood by an individual. According to some linguistics, signs make the fundamental units of language and thus making this feature compose of elements of graphics and sound- image which are found within a signifier (Bally & Sechehaye 15). Language is a part of a speech as opposed to the belief that the two terms are the same. It is rather an arrangement of signs that communicate ideas and therefore, a well defined object in the assorted mass of speech specifics. Languages occur in different forms and are thus classified under different categories. One common form of language is the sign language. This relates to the use of body language and manual communication. It involves the use of patterns and signs where movement of body parts like hands, faces and are used to convey the thoughts of a speaker. Sign language in many cases is used to complement and complete the normal kind of language.

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The Nature of Language and Sign

Language and sign form some of the most important elements of communication and without them, understanding conversations become impossible. Considering this significance, understanding the nature of these components is of massive importance, especially in t he field of linguistics. Language and sign, though closely intertwined differ to some extent as described in their natures.

Language is described as a distinct object in the varied mass of specificities within a speech. Language can be contained in the narrow section of the speaking-circuit where an acoustic representation becomes linked to a notion. As a matter of fact, this is the social aspect of a speech and exits only with respect to the kind of agreement signed by community members. Members of such communities gradually get to learn even when they lack basic speaking capabilities. Language is also learnt and can be studies independently. Other elements of speech are not so necessary for one to know a language. Another nature, with which language can be typified, is that of concreteness. The linguistic signs used in language are not generalized even though they are basically psychological. The tangible nature of these basic units of language and the ability of being reduced to standard written symbols is what contributes to the concreteness of language. As opposed to speech which is heterogeneous, language is considered homogeneous. This is because; it is made up of signs in which the only indispensable object is the merger of implications and sound-images, and in which, the signs, all together, are psychological (Bally & Sechehaye 14- 15).

Signs on the other hand are defined as signifies and as being signifiers. They are also, linear and arbitrary and predisposed to immutability. Sign as unified and as a unifier are united in the brain besides serving to unite the concepts and sound images within languages owing to its psychological characteristic. The psychological nature is demonstrated in the capability of individuals to recite mentally, without necessarily speaking out the words loudly. Sign is considered an arbitrary element, owing to the random nature by which the signified and the signifier connect. In connecting signs in a language, the choice of the signifier is entirely left to the language. There actually exists no natural connection between the signified and the signifier. The linear nature of the sing and signifier is demonstrated in the way it, being acoustic, is extended exclusively in time from which it is capable of signifying a span, and when the duration is quantifiable in a solitary dimension. In some instances, this linear nature of the sign does not become apparent. This occurs when a syllable, for instance, seems to be engaged with several important fundamentals at one particular time. Depending on various dynamics, a sign can be considered as either mutable or immutable.

The immutable nature of the sign comes in line with the fact that, The signifier, though to a facades unreservedly selected with regards to the suggestion that it characterizes, is predetermined, not free, with reference to the linguistic society that utilize it (Bally & Sechehaye 64-75). The masses have no say over the subject, and the signifier preferred by language becomes irreplaceable. Mutability of a sign is however governed by number of parameter. These consist of, the random nature of the sign in itself, the assortment of signs essential for the institution of any language, the level of convolution of a language configuration and the combined inactivity with regards to improvement.

Relationship between Language and Reality

According to the principle of linguistic relativity, conceptualization of the world around as is a factor of language. Basically, language and reality are believed to be intertwined in spite of the ambiguities that exist between the two. According to postculturalism, language plays a very special role in human experiences and therefore the realities that surround the lives of individuals. Experience is believed to rely on and to be controlled by language. Structuralists theories also seem to support the fact that reality emanates from language.

According to the theories, the meaning of a word or an expression begins neither with the intention or the experience of the speaker but rather with language. In this context, it is important to note that the process of speech and the purpose of the speech depend on a language which has already been established. Basically, meanings to terms are draw, not from the immediate speech but from language which has already predetermined the meaning. Meaning is generally drawn from expressions associated with a language which already has been instituted (Quigley 2). Although the speaker is usually instrumental in relaying information that relate to life experiences, his participation in language is usually not paramount. As human beings, individuals can only experience their world and therefore develop perceptions through language. In fact, it is the language that takes centre stage in communication and thus determines the reality that an individual’s perceived (Quigley 4)

This notion has however been refuted by a class of theorists who believe not in the fact that all experience in life is governed by language. They claim that the structuralists theories undermine the aspect of self which plays a central role in the determination of reality. In addition, it has long believed that history plays a great role in determining human experience and consequently reality. Drawing the line of how language, which is also historical, influence reality, has become a difficult goal to realize.

Organizing Structure of a Sign

The sign, as known, is the basic structure of language. This means that without a sign, language exists not. Sign, has the nature of being a signifier besides having the capability to being signified. Structuralist theory indicates that, denotation is a private occurrence which emanates from a mutual system of signification. The structure of the system is made up of signs which make up the language. In order for language to function, ideas and sounds must be presents and most of these are made of up signs which are systematically organized to form communication. The expression sound-image may appear to be excessively limited since, besides the depiction of the sounds of a phrase there also exists that of its verbalization. The sound- image is equivalence fineness the expected depiction of the word as an actuality of probable language, remote to any concrete use of it in utterance.

A sign is basically defined as an amalgamation of concepts and sound-image. The unification role of the sign makes it an important element in the organization of a language. The linguistic sign, in its phychological nature unites the concepts of sound image. It is because of this fact that language operates even without the spoken or written word being present. Sign helps individuals not only to communicate but also to engage in mental processes in the form of Intrapersonal communications. In addition, Sound image and idea, which are the main elements of a sign, are systematically united with each functioning as a means for recalling the other. The organizing role of these two elements in a sign helps in the formation of syllabus, whether spoken or not.

Difficulties and Questions That Arise

With reference to language and what it really means, there exist difficulties and questions whose answers ought to be provided. The contracting information especially arose over the relationship between language and reality leads to more questions than answers. In addition, the question that comes to mind is that which relates to whether language really determines reality. The extent to which reality is a factor to language is also brought about in the case where language truly is perceived as the determinant of experiences and reality as stipulated by structuralist theory. Further, the role, of spoken word in determining reality is disregarded by some theories claiming that it only severs to bring out language, which is an element already instilled among individuals. The complete disregard for speech here seems to be confusing since one could wonder whether language can possible exist and function independently and without the incorporation of speech.

Some theorists on contradicting the ideas advanced by poststructuralist’s theory stipulate that self or ego is and ought to be the main determinant of experience and reality as opposed to the idea of language being responsible for that. The question that begs here is, where then does the role of language fall as regarding life experiences and the development of reality. Moreover, what is the degree by which ego determines reality? Does ego work with other elements; say language in enabling the process of experiencing life and formation of reality? The theorists who refute the suggestions of structuralists theory also indicate that experience is a factor of historical events and language therefore not fully considered as closely related with reality. The historical nature of language is however, pointed out at some point. How then can reality not relate or be based on the element of language?

Complications between the Notions of Thinking and Authorship

Language is considered as an aspect independent of writing or authorship and as such, the mental processes, mostly associates with language do not depend on writing. As opposed to the belief that authorship helps in the preservation of ideas, this tends not to be the actual case. Writing is basically the graphic form of ideas and has been considered by many as stable and more suited than sound in creating an account for the unity of language since history. This is however considered as purely fictitious. This is because; the oily true element that creates some bond is sound and not written words. Further, the shaper and more lasting nature of written material has been considered as responsible for the massive attention directed towards them. This makes the writtencontents force themselves into the mind of individuals instead of sound which ought to be the main elements of focus (Bally & Sechehaye 24-25).

Also to be noted is that fact that, Conflicts between language and authorship are occurrences which have been witnessed in a number of instances. Settlements of these disputes have always proved complicated and only solvable with the intervention of linguists. Because of this however, writing has always earned unwarranted significance with the outcome of such interventions. This is majorly because of the fact that the record sit provides gives it an upper hand in winning whenever disagreements occur.


Finding meaning in life and surviving in the society requires various forms of adaptation among individuals. One of the most important factors of adaptations comes in the form of language which determines the capability of one to communicate and relate with the environment. Language is generally made up of sign which are considered as the most fundamental components of the feature. These two elements are closely related with each other in spite of the varied nature that each of them possess. This very nature and more so in signs makes the elements important especially in their capability to organize and structure language. Language, with the help of signs is closely related to reality although different view arises with respect to the notion. With regards to authorship and thinking, the two components have been considered to be complicated in their relationship. The fact that authorship doesn’t support thinking as much as it superficially believed constitutes some of the complications that exist among the two elements.

Works Cited

Bally Charles & Sechehaye, Albert, Course In General Linguistics: Ferdinand De Saussure, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book Company

Desprete, Vinciane, the Body We Care So Much For: Figures Of Anthropo-Zoo-Genesis, Body and Society, 10 (2/3)

Quigley, Timothy, Structuralism and Poststructuralism, 2009, March 22

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