How and why do language changes begin; how and why do they spread; and how can they ultimately be explained? This new textbook sets out to answer these questions in a clear and helpful way which will be accessible to all students with an elementary knowledge of linguistics. In the first half of the book Dr McMahon analyses changes from every area of grammar. In the second she addresses recent developments in socio-historical linguistics, and looks at such topics as language contact, linguistic variation, pidgins and creoles, and language death. Throughout the discussion is illustrated by a wealth of examples from English and other languages. Understanding Language Change will be welcomed by students as a follow-up to such introductory books as Jean Aitchison's Language Change: Progress or Decay?, also published by Cambridge University Press.