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Beyond Pure ReasonFerdinand de Saussure's Philosophy of Language and Its Early Romantic Antecedents$
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Boris Gasparov

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157803

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157803.001.0001

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The Anagram

The Anagram

(p.139) Six The Anagram
Beyond Pure Reason

Boris Gasparov

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Saussure's work on the semiotic nature of sound repetitions, particularly in poetic discourse, a phenomenon known since the 1970s as his theory of the “anagram.” It suggests that Saussure's anagrammatic analyses reiterate the two properties unique to language: the principle of duality, according to which the material and spiritual elements of a sign have no value of their own, but become a semiotic phenomenon by virtue of their mutual relation; and the principle of arbitrariness that defies any general pattern according to which such relations could be structured and any predictable direction in which they could evolve.

Keywords:   anagrams, poetic discourse, sound repetition, Ferdinand de Saussure, duality, arbitrariness

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