Not so sure...

Daniel Ezra Johnson ezra_50 at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 7 04:28:07 UTC 2001

>Another curious lapse is Saussure's dictum that a language is >"un système
>où tout se tient."  Again, this is virtually always cited in French (and
>frequently so), but it appears in the Crystals' compilation in the almost
>unrecognizable and far less memorable English rendering: "language is a
>system of
>interdependent terms" (16:60).

I always thought this was Saussure as well, but I recently read the

"A basic tenet of modern linguistics is the theory that phonemes exist by
virtue of their being phonologically opposed to one another, and that they
form, in Maurice Grammont's now famous words, 'un système où tout se tient,
où tout est dans une étroite dépendance.'"

The footnote gives Grammont, Traité de phonétique (Paris, 1933), p. 167.

This is from the article "Dialect Geography and the Concept of Phonological
Space" by William G. Moulton, Word 18 (1962).

The quote is attributed to Saussure all the time. Would it be possible to
trace the origin of the misattribution, if it is one?

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