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Edited and produced from the lecture notes of his students at the University of Geneva, the Course in General Linguistics was first published in 1916, three years after its author's death. The book sets out Saussure's theory that all languages share the same underlying structure, regardless of historical or cultural context. Using examples, he describes a new structuralist approach to understanding how words convey meaning. Saussure also draws a distinction between specific speech acts and the larger system of language that is the basis for speech. His ideas have had a huge influence in the study of linguistics ever since.