Opposition theory and the interconnectedness of language, culture, and cognition

Marcel Danesi


The theory of opposition has always been viewed as the founding principle of structuralism within contemporary linguistics and semiotics. As an analytical technique, it has remained a staple within these disciplines, where it continues to be used as a means for identifying meaningful cues in the physical form of signs. However, as a theory of conceptual structure it was largely abandoned under the weight of post-structuralism starting in the 1960s — the exception to this counter trend being the work of the Tartu School of semiotics. This essay revisits opposition theory not only as a viable theory for understanding conceptual structure, but also as a powerful technique for establishing the interconnectedness of language, culture, and cognition.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2009.37.1-2.02

SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: sss@ut.ee. Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia