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From the publisher:
The Five-Minute Linguist has been a popular introduction to the subject of language because it is succinct, clear, accurate,—and fun to read. Now in its second edition, updated and expanded, the book has been warmly received by readers across the globe because it offers quick and reliable answers to questions about language that most of us have, such as: How many languages are there? What was the first language? What causes foreign accents? Are dialects dying? The book is the work of experts, authoritative and full of facts, but not technical or aimed at an audience of scholars. It is used by beginning students of linguistics and anthropology, and has broad appeal for general readers, people who read for enjoyment as well as knowledge. It has a conversational style that feels more like a series of fireside chats than a college textbook, because it started life as a series of five-minute radio broadcasts. Its chapters are short, suitable for browsing or reading on the run. But although it is intentionally light in tone, the book is full of up-to-date information, written by a cross-section of leading linguists in the U.S. and abroad. The second edition of the book was produced under the sponsorship of the Linguistic Society of America and the (U.S.) National Museum of Language.