SAUSSURE, Ferdinand de. Genève 26.9.1857 — Vufflens, Genève 22.2. 1913. Swiss Linguist. Professor in Genève. Son of Henri Louis Frédéric de S., a zoologist, of a family originally of Lorrainean nobility settled in Switzerland in the 16th century. Brother Sinologist Léopold de S. (1866-1925). After school in Geneva he studied in 1876-78 at Leipzig (under Curtius and Brugmann) and 1879 Berlin. Ph.D. 1880 Leipzig (under Windisch). In 1881-91 maître de conférences at É.P.H.É. in Paris, beside Sanskrit also taught Gothic and Old High German. In 1891-96 eo. Professor of comparative IE linguistics at Genève, in 1896-1913 ord. of Sanskrit and IE there, in 1907-13 also Professor of General Linguistics. Married, children.
FdeS was a famous pioneer of modern linguistics, whose full importance was only understood after his death. In IE linguistics he was the first to propose the idea of laryngal vowels, which he called “sonant coefficients” (1879, even before his dr. dissertation). The famous Cours was published by his students (—> Bally) from their lecture notes. These lectures he held three times, first in 1907.
Publications: diss. De l’emploi du génitif absolu en sanscrit. 95 p. Genève 1881.
– Mémoire sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indoeuropéennes. 303 p. Lp. 1879; a few articles.
– Cours de linguistique général. 1916.
Sources: Hist.-Biogr. Lex. d. Schweiz 6 (with photo); *B. Mounin, F. de S. P. 1968 (with bibliography); *R. Engler, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 826f. (with further references); *M. Mayrhofer: Nach hundert Jahren — Ferdinand de Saussures Frühwerk und seine Rezeption durch das heutige Indogermanistik. 1983; *T. M. Scheerer, F. de S. Rezeption und Kritik. Darmstadt 1980; *W. Streitberg, Idg. Jb. 2, 1914, 203-213 (with photo); Wikipedia with photo and further references.