This is a brief and clear account of the evolution of linguistics in this century intended for the non-specialist reader. The book is arranged thematically and follows specific problems connected to the language. First the author deals with the description and historical and typological classifications of languages. Then he examines those theories which have attempted to identify the specific object of linguistics. His review goes from Saussure to the various structuralist schools, on to Chomsky's theory, this having today a central role in the linguistic theory, then on to the leading trends in the philosophy of language. Finally, he analyzes those areas (sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, pragmatics, poetics and narratology, phonetics) that have concentrated on the concrete manifestations of linguistic usage.
Giulio C. Lepschy is a Professor in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Reading, and a Fellow of the British Academy.