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Auteur: Thayanne LIMA

Saussure and Labov: congruencies and divergences

Abstract/Résumé: Saussure is a classic and highly respected linguistic in the human science studies, his work has created a new approach to the linguistic studies that had been, for a long time, working with comparative grammar. Thus, the author had prestige among the intellectuals of his time and has become an icon of reference, so that many linguists have been using his work as basis to their studies, or to develop new approaches to the linguistic studies. Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) was responsible to confer a specific object to linguistics, the langue. The linguist, therefore, marked the history of Modern linguistics, transgressing one whole century of studies which associated the comparison between languages and history, to obtain a “science that contributes around the facts of langue”, and only “recognize its truly and only object” (NORMAND, 2009, p.29). In 1916, Saussure’s students edited his courses in general linguistics and transformed them in the book Course in General Linguistics (CGL) which is broadly known and source of study of different linguists. We can notice that by the numerous quotes of Saussure and of the CGL in many publications, books, articles, among others. A linguist that has used the CGL to develop his theory was William Labov, professor of linguistics in the University of Pennsylvania, which develops researches in the sociolinguistic area, variation and linguistic change and dialectology. In 1968, Labov, Herzog and Weinreich have launched the book “Empirical foundations for a theory of linguistic change” that has initiated a different approach to the linguistic studies. Otherwise, only in 1972 Labov published the book “Socilinguistic patterns”, initializing the sociolinguistic studies with the variation theory and linguistic change. Labov was one of the authors who criticized and developed another theory starting from the saussurian’s ideas. In this paper, we will analyze Labov’s reading of Saussure’s ideas, focusing on the concept of social/individual and of concrete/abstract, analyzing both authors and their main works, as well as the congruencies and divergences we can find when studying these concepts.