Building with language: Was Saussure wrong?

The past in the present

These remains of the Temple of Dioscuri (also called pseudo-temple since it has been reconstructed in the XIX century) show that neither the original structure nor the reconstruction would have been possible without verbal language – an obvious statement until recent times. With digital technology comes the ability to manipulate, transform, augment, virtualize objects without using verbal language to accomplish this. One of the interesting consequences of this is the fact that the main characteristics of language, that of relying on social interaction, may turn out not to be so crucial. Or, to put it differently, there are more things we can do today without using language to build anything than was previously possible. This may point to a much more individual and individualized verbal communication relying more on one’s verbal dexterity. As with everything else in these postmodern times, the burden is on the user, or, as in this case, on the speaker/writer to meta-manage their own thoughts expressed in language. But linguistic self-awareness is most efficiently brought about by comparison: comparison to other models, other speech fragments, other languages. Therefore, instruction at all levels must include linguistic and grammatical analysis.


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