system. As for collections of objects (clothes, food), they enjoythe status of systems only in so far as they pass through the relayof language, which extracts their signifiers (in the form of nomenclature) and names their signifieds (in the forms of usagesor reasons): we are, much more than in former times, anddespite the spread of pictorial illustration, a civilisation of thewritten word. Finally, and in more general terms, it appearsincreasingly more difficult to conceive a system of images andobjects whose
can exist independently of language: toperceive what a substance signifies is inevitably to fall back onthe individuation of a language: there is no meaning which isnot designated, and the world of signifieds is none other thanthat of language.Thus, though working at the outset on nonlinguistic substances,semiology is required, sooner or later, to find language (in theordinary sense of the term) in its path, not only as a model, butalso as component, relay or signified. Even so, such language isnot quite that of the linguist: it is a second-order language, withits unities no longer monemes or phonemes, but largerfragments of discourse referring to objects or episodes whosemeaning
language, but can never exist independentlyof it. Semiology is therefore perhaps destined to be absorbedinto a
the materials of which may be myth,narrative, journalism, or on the other hand objects of ourcivilisation, in so far as they are
(through press,prospectus, interview, conversation and perhaps even the innerlanguage, which is ruled by the laws of imagination). In fact, wemust now face the possibility of inverting Saussure'sdeclaration: linguistics is not a part of the general science of signs, even a privileged part, it is semiology which is a part of linguistics: to be precise, it is that part covering the
great signifying unities
of discourse. By this inversion we may expectto bring to light the unity of the research at present being donein anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis and stylistics roundthe concept of signification.