This popular introductory linguistics text is unique in the way various themes are integrated throughout the book. One primary theme is the question, "How is a speaker’s communicative intent recognized?" Rather than treat phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics as completely separate fields, the text shows how they interact in principled ways. Similarly, language variation and acquisition are informed by results in these fields. The text provides a sound introduction to linguistic methodology while also revealing why people are intrinsically interested in language—the ultimate puzzle of the human mind.
The fifth edition has been thoroughly revised. Revisions include, but are not limited to, the addition of "selected readings" sections, updated examples, new discussion on the creative nature of neologisms, and the use of IPA as the primary transcription system throughout. This edition also includes an account of the patterns of occurrence of reduced vowels in English. An understanding of these patterns enables the reader to write a phonemic transcription of any English word.