First published in 1992, Janet Holmes' An Introduction to Sociolinguistics has established itself as the key introductory textbook in the field. It is divided into three sections. In the first, Janet Holmes shows how language is used in multilingual speech communities and explains the varying patterns of language use. She examines how and why languages change within society and highlights the factors that lead to the displacement of one language by another, and sometimes even 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. She shows how and why differing social and racial 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. Written in an accessible way, this essential introductory text is and illustrated throughout with numerous examples.