A concise, accessible introduction to the great linguist who shaped the study of language for the 20th century, Saussure for Beginners puts the challenging ideas of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) into clear and illuminating terms, focusing on the unifying principles of his teachings and showing how his thoughts on linguistics migrated to anthropology. Ferdinand de Saussure's work is so powerful that it not only redefined modern linguistics, it also opened our minds to new ways of approaching anthropology, literary criticism, and psychoanalysis. Saussure felt that 19th century linguistics avoided hard questions about what language is and how it works. By 1911, he had taught a general linguistics course only three times. Upon his death, however, his students were so inspired by his teachings that they published them as the "Course in General Linguistics." Saussure For Beginners takes you through this course, points out the unifying principles, and shows how these ideas migrated from linguistics to other subjects.