Birth of Ferdinand de Saussure

Ferdinand de Saussure was a Geneva-born linguist, whose book 'Course in General Linguistics' (1916) (1) became the cornerstone of modern linguistics. Saussure’s work on language and systems laid the basis for natural language processing (NLP) and modern AI.

Time changes all things; there is no reason why language should escape this universal law.

Ferdinand de Saussure

Saussure's pioneering linguistic research on identifying language patterns and relationships between signifiers and signifieds (or words and their meanings) is key to understanding how NLP systems can map words and other linguistic units to the concepts they represent, allowing them to perform tasks such as text classification and machine translation.

The conceptual bridge between Saussure and the latest AI developments is represented in Alan Turin’s paper Computing machinery and intelligence.

Here you can find an excerpt from Jovan Kurbalija's study published in the Geneva Digital AtlasEspriTech de Genève  Why does technology meet humanity in Geneva?

1. Published by Saussure's students from lecture notes after his premature death. de Saussure, F. (1916). Course in general linguistics.

2. Turing, A. M. (1950). Computing machinery and intelligence. Mind 49: 433-460.