Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) was a Swiss linguist whose posthumously published Course in General Linguistics (1916) became a catalyst for the development of structuralism. Saussure was born in Geneva, Switzerland, into a family with a lineage of noted academics going back to the eighteenth century. Saussure himself displayed a gift for languages from an early age. At the University of Geneva, he not only studied linguistics but also theology, law, and chemistry. In 1878, at 21 years old, he published Memoir on the Original System of Vowels in the Indo-European Languages, a comparative study of vowel usage in proto-Indo-European languages.