Ferdinand de Saussure (French pronunciation: [fɛʁdinɑ̃ də soˈsyːʁ]) (26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. Saussure is widely considered to be one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics,[1][2] and his ideas have had a monumental impact throughout the humanities and social sciences.

Ferdinand Mongin de Saussure, born in Geneva in 1857, showed early signs of considerable talent and intellectual ability. After a year of studying Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and a variety of courses at the University of Geneva, he commenced graduate work at the University of Leipzig in 1876. Two years later at 21 years Saussure studied for a year at Berlin, where he wrote his only full-length work, Mémoire sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indo-européenes (Dissertation on the Primitive Vowel System in Indo-European Languages). He returned to Leipzig and was awarded his doctorate in 1880. Soon afterwards he relocated to Paris, where he would lecture on ancient and modern languages. He taught in Paris for 11 years before returning to Geneva in 1891. Saussure lectured on Sanskrit and Indo-European at the University of Geneva for the remainder of his life. It was not until 1906 that Saussure began teaching the Course of General Linguistics that would consume the greater part of his attention until his death in 1913.