This is an introduction to the study of language for the non-specialist or beginner in linguistics. Professor Chao covers the whole field of language and of modern developments in linguistics, with particular emphasis on those aspects which are likely to be most interesting to the layman. Professor Chao emphasises the relationship between language and other aspects of human culture and discusses systems of writing, minority languages and problems of translation in this context. An important part of the book reviews symbolic systems in language, writing and modern communication technology, with applications such as automatic speech, machine translation and related topics. Professor Chao laid the foundations of modern linguistics in China and has been associated with a number of important linguistic projects both in China and in the USA where he has taught for many years. In this book he approaches his subject with clarity, warmth and humour.