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Linguistics: Structuralism

  • By: Jeff Lohr
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Linguistic structuralism is a theory of signs that identifies the locus of meaning in human communication within a network of arbitrary representations. Structuralists are concerned with the system of signs in a given language rather than the particular instances of communication. Structuralism is a rejection of traditional theories of the origin of language. Meaning is generated through the use of arbitrary signs in language. Spoken language is constituted by structures of difference in sound that allow for the possibility of phonetic writing. Early 20th-century linguists emphasized sound in the study of language and dismissed sign language as physical manifestations of oral speech. Expanded linguistic scholarship propelled the examination of language as a key to understanding culture. Anthropologists extended the structural linguistic methodology to examine symbolic ...

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