Document Type

Book Chapter


English (Scripps)

Publication Date



Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


Departures in linguistics are nothing new of course. Ideas come and go, "facts" appear and disappear along with the theories which first brought them to light, trends shift and alter. The language used to describe the history of the field, a field which once constituted a new departure in its own right, is replete with the language of innovation: "breakthrough," "advance," "progress," and even "revolution" are familiar enough epithets. In the face of all this novelty then the question must be, how to do something new? The answer which is proposed here might appear somewhat odd for the intention is to make a new departure by going back rather than advancing. The return will be to the work of Saussure and the aim will be to take one of his claims and to re-read it. By doing so it is hoped not only to offer an alternative view of Saussure' s work and its influence, but also to obtain an important insight which will open up new possibilities in linguistic study. To that end the second half of the paper will be dedicated to an application of this insight in an examination of Swift's Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue (1712), which treats of the politics and processes of the standardisation of the English language .

Rights Information

© 1992 Garland Publishing