This book provides a refreshingly new perspective for investigating linguistic texts, which foregrounds models of the human. It presents a close reading of major linguistic theories in the twentieth century with a focus on three main themes: linguistic system and the individual speaker; social order; and linguistic creativity. The examination of these three fundamental themes concerning language and human nature, on the one hand, provides a fine-textured exposition on the implicit and explicit models of human nature endorsed by major theorists; on the other, it reveals the methodological dilemmas faced by linguistics. In light of the fact that the importance of considering posthumanist ideas is increasingly being underscored today, both within and outside linguistics, this focus on the human makes the book highly topical.
This book grows out of my PhD thesis which was completed in 2014 at School of English, University of Hong Kong. It would not have been possible without the generous financial support in the form of a 4-year PhD Fellowship provided by Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.