The literal meaning of “structuralism” in a broad sense is the combination of two words ‘structure + ism’. ‘Structure’ means the pattern, the regularity and the rules on which the super structure is built while ‘ism’ suggests a system or the principle on which super-structure is based so structuralism is a system or body of principles which are derived from the belief that any phenomena is a structure that is a whole with certain essential constituents. Structuralism is understanding of a system, a whole and a super-structure. Early 19th C. saw the emergence of Freud and Marx which shaped the 20th C. western thought. For Marx, the super-structure was a proof of a system of relation at the base. For Freud human behavior is the result of the inter relations and operations of the elements of unconscious. Based on this Ferdinand-de-Saussure believed that a linguistic phenomena can be understood by understanding the underlined system and structure, Saussure began to study language in terms of observable and verifiable data which was obtained from the behavior of the actual users of language. This new movement was against ‘Traditional’ and ‘Universal’ grammar schools. Structuralist noted and analyzed the actual speech acts (Parole) and then evolution of the meaning of a word in a specific context was studied. Saussure shifted the focus from Parole to ‘Langue’; Langue for him is language as a system of signs. He was trying to understand language as a structure which is composed of units called signs. Further each sign is another structure which is made up of signifier.
Signifier is also a structure indication towards signification. Structuralism is a system to understand the sign, the signifier and the signification. Their dependency and inter-dependency is a science for Saussure, it is a system structured by ‘referent’. Structuralism as a linguistic theory, as a cultural theory and even as an aesthetic theory is accepted by the scholars. If looked at the structural linguistic the following considerations are well known: 1. The priority is given to spoken language. 2. Treatment given to all languages is objective. 3. The synchronic description of language is of prime importance. 4. Linguistic according to structuralist is not prescriptive but descriptive. 5. System structure and even language all are based on living languages. To conclude, structuralism is empirical, methodological, verifiable and reliable. It examines all languages in terms of their phonological and grammatical system. But, Noam Chomsky criticized structuralism by objecting that “Structuralism fails to capture all the ambiguities and relations of language, it does not include the idea of creativity. Yet, structuralism as a system to comprehend systematically and objectively successes like any other successful theory of knowledge.