Where did human language come from? How many languages are there? How do we acquire our first language or learn a second one? The highly acclaimed Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by David Crystal answers these and other questions about language. From hieroglyphics to trucker talk, from Shakespeare in pidgin to sneezing in Tongan, this is a stimulating and richly illustrated guide to the variety, structure, history and theory of language. David Crystal not only conveys the intrinsic fascination of the subject, but also its enormous complexity. The visual dimension of the encyclopedia throws a fresh light on what has traditionally been treated as a non-visual subject, with many drawings, photographs, maps, display boxes and extracts all integrated within the text. In addition, appendices, meticulous cross-referencing and indexing ensure that this is an authoritative work of reference for students, professionals and general readers alike.