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Ferdinand de Saussure was born in Switzerland in 1857. Saussure's scientific precocity was evident at an early age. In either 1872 or 1874, at the age of 15 or 17, he wrote a piece titled “Essai pour Reduire les Mots du Grec, du Latin & de l'Allemand a un Petiti Nombre de Racines” [Essay for Reducing the Words of Greek, Latin, & German to a small Number of Roots] (see Saussure 1978). From 1876 to 1880, he studied at the University of Lepizig, where he was taught and influenced by leading exponents of the neogrammarian school, such as Curtius, Ostoff, and Brugmann. In 1879, at the age of 21, Saussure published his monograph, the Mémoire (see below) while he was a student at the ...

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