This introductory book considers the question "What is sociolinguistics?", and explains sociolinguistic concepts through a wide range of examples. It draws from both 'classic' approaches to the subject as well as from more recent research, introducing terms like 'code-switching' and 'social dialect'. It is conveniently divided into three sections. In the first, Janet Holmes shows how language is used in multilingual speech communities and explains how and why languages change within society and highlights the factors that lead to the displacement of one language by another, and sometimes the death of a language. The central section gives a comprehensive and well-illustrated exploration of social reasons for language change, exploring language change in monolingual communities and the features of a variety of dialects. The author shows how and why differing racial and social groups develop and maintain speech variations. In the final section, Janet Holmes assesses how attitudes to language affect speech and shows that linguistic responses depend upon a variety of contextual factors - for example, the status of the person being addressed and our reasons for speaking. Our attitudes to language have strong implications for our community. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics describes how language usage reflects the values of society, how society's view of women is reflected in language and how women are linguistically more polite than men.