Saussure claimed that language is "a system of signs that express ideas."
- Handbook of Semiotics, By Winfried Nöth, p57.
Do these signs, in language or any of the sign systems just mentioned, refer to each other (as well as the signified) in order to make the system?
What does e.g. Saussure say on this?
I think maybe.
When I say the phrase "the tree is green", the terms don't obviously refer to each other. But a language, langue, is governed by rules, e.g. definitions, which can be expressed in terms of reference. As when a dictionary defines a word: it refers to it.
Assuming that the whole of a language can be so defined, then a system of signs can be exhaustively expressed by terms referring to other terms: it is those references.
- Can any "system of signs" be completely defined?
Regardless of whether it is made by that exhaustive definition.