The function of this center was not only to orient, balance, and organize the structure-one cannot in fact conceive of an unorganized structure-but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the structure would limit what we might call the freeplay of the structure.
No doubt that by orienting and organizing the coherence of the system, the center of a structure permits the freeplay of its elements inside the total form. And even today the notion of a structure lacking any center represents the unthinkable itself.
In Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics (written by Saussure’s colleagues after his death and based on student notes), the analysis focuses not on the use of language (called “parole,” or speech), but rather on the underlying system of language (called “langue”).
This approach examines how the elements of language relate to each other in the present, synchronically rather than diachronically. Saussure argued that linguistic signs were composed of two parts, a “signifier” (the “sound pattern” of a word, either in mental projection—as when we silently recite lines from a poem to ourselves—or in actual, physical realization as part of a speech act) and a “signified” (the concept or meaning of the word).
Structuralists view society and its rules as expressions of deep structures, often binary codes, that express our primary natures. A systematic study of such codes is semiotics, which was later hijacked by Poststructuralists as evidence that language alone provides a true reality.