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What makes human language unique? How did language begin? This book is a wide-ranging and stimulating introduction to language which students and general readers alike will read for enjoyment as well as instruction. It explores the most intriguing questions about the nature of human language, drawing on basic insights that have been developed by linguistics this century.
The author introduces the reader to the study of language through chapters on grammar, sounds, writing and words, emphasising these as systems within the overall system of language. Later chapters look at the stages by which children learn language and the theories that explain their rapid progress, at what can go wrong with speech in childhood and maturity, and at how speakers of a language show their different origins and class. The text is liberally illustrated with fascinating examples, mostly from everyday life, from sources as wide ranging as political speeches and T-shirt slogans and examples are taken from an extremely wide range of languages, in particular English, French, Japanese, German, Spanish and Korean.