Saussure and RousseauEdit
Saussure, a French linguistic philosopher, seems to detest the written language as a perversion of the oral. He considers writing “a disguise to language”. Rousseau agrees to the secondary nature of writing to language. They also agree that writing has usurped its master in matters of importance and they are not quite accepting of this. So, they write books about it. Immediately they shuffle off the possibility of a pictogrammatical language as another disguise to sound and move on to the critique of a universal oral language. Clearly this would be a dry, unemotional, nonpoetic language like Esperanto, created by Dr. Zamenhof in 1887. Esperanto became the language of business for a short while in the 1980s and early 90s. It still might have its day. Saussure’s critique of a universal language is very fitting to Esperanto. What sounds pleasing in one language might be vulgar in another. The arguments both Rousseau and Saussure give are grounded in the thoughts of a spoken language. Only one can branch over into the field of this project. Saussure says “A man proposing a fixed language that posterity would have to accept for what it is would be like a hen hatching a duck’s egg.”
Saussure and Rousseau fail to acknowledge that like writing being secondary to language, language is secondary to concept. As writing has usurped language, language has usurped the concept. People may learn to speak before they write, but they learn concepts before speech. This has been proven in pre-verbal children who readily learn sign language for primitive concepts like hunger and appreciation. Some parents teach their children sign language to assist in those pre-verbal years of not knowing exactly what they want. It is slowly becoming a useful fad and improves the conceptual development of the child in later years. Does this behavior mean that signing is more important than oral language because it is learned first?
American Sign Language has developed proudly as a more universal language than the namesake suggests. The main difference is that ASL (American Sign Language) takes a conceptual approach to speaking rather than an alphabetic. Speaking challenged citzens once relied upon spelling out everything they wished to express to other speaking challenged citzens. You can imagine the complications involved. It was almost better to just not communicate at all. In the sixteenth century an italian physician, Cardano, wrote the first book about the possibilities of a sign language. Since the language has grown worldwide without verbal language barriers.