“Linguistic Isolation” concerns the confluence of historical description and language. This essay explores the influence of Ferdinand de Saussure on facticity and description in historiography, arguing that de Saussure’s linguistic theory of significant, signifie, and difference pose problems for any historical account which attempts to describe the past as it actually occurred. Specifically, if we grant de Saussure’s linguistic theory for historical narratives, we are forced to abandon meta-historical entities and concepts, to impose non-empirical interpretive categories on data-sets, limit historical evidences to extremely small data sets, and, perhaps, to abandon the discipline of history altogether. Finally, the essay suggests that if historical descriptions are to be factual and truth-bearing, then the linguistic theory of de Saussure and his contemporary advocates must be contested by every thoughtful historian.

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