Sociolinguistics is one of the central branches of modern linguistics and deals with the place of language in human societies This introductory textbook expertly synthesizes the main approaches to the subject. The book covers areas such as multilingualism, code-choice, language variation, dialectology, interactional studies, gender, language contact, language and inequality, and language and power At the same time it provides an integrated perspective on these themes by examining sociological theories of human interaction. In this regard power and inequality are particularly significant The book also contains two chapters on the applications of sociolinguistics (in education and in language policy and planning), and a concluding chapter on the sociolinguistics of sign language Written collaboratively by teachers and scholars with first hand experience of sociolinguistic developments on four continents, this book provides the broadest introduction currently available to the central topics in sociolinguistics. Features * Provides a solid foundation in all aspects of sociolinguistics and explores important themes such as power and inequality and new themes such as sign language and gender on the internet. * Well illustrated with maps, diagrams, inset boxes, drawings and cartoons. * Accessibly written with the beginner in mind * Uses numerous examples from multilingual settings. * Explains basic concepts, supported by a Glossary. * Further Reading lists, a full bibliography, and a section on 'Next Steps' provide valuable guidance.