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Sechehaye studied at the University of Geneva under Ferdinand de Saussure. From 1893 to 1902 he trained at Göttingen, where he wrote a thesis in German about the French imperfectsubjunctive. After that, he taught in Geneva until his death, though not becoming a professor until 1939, when he succeeded his colleague Charles Bally. His wife Marguerite Sechehaye was a psychotherapist and a pioneer in the psychoanalytic treatment of schizophrenics.