Greimas’ Semiotic Thinking and Its Evolution between “Structural Semantics” (1970) and “Semiotics of Passions” (1991)

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2019, Vol. 5. №4(20)

Greimas’ Semiotic Thinking and Its Evolution between “Structural Semantics” (1970) and “Semiotics of Passions” (1991)

For citation: Marillaud P. 2019. “Greimas’ Semiotic Thinking and its Evolution between ‘Structural Semantics’ (1970) and ‘Semiotics of Passions’ (1991)”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 5, no 4 (20), pp. 6-37. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2019-5-4-6-37

About the author:

Pierre Marillaud, Dr. of Linguistics, Associate Researcher, University Toulouse-Jean Jaurès (France); Inspector of the Honorary Academy;


By the time of triumphant structuralism, in 1970-1980, Greimas had achieved an overwhelming reputation thanks to the publication of his “Structural Semantics”. However, this success quickly disappeared due to several factors. The first factor was his constant search for the “universals of thought” by which he closed the semiotic system onto itself. The second factor was his perception of the existence of different languages as a simple epiphenomenon. Finally, his actantial diagram, with a privileged place to the sender-judicator, came to be treated as a single tool introducing a transcendence which itself became asymptotic of the Absolute. As a result, Greimas made some mistakes, even a huge misinterpretation, in his analysis of the short story by Maupassant “The Two Friends”. While acknowledging what semiotics owes to Greimas, in this article, we will try to show some of the ways that prevented Greimassian semiotics from becoming a confidential discipline.


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