This is an excellent overview of the immensely detailed and frustrating world of multilingualism. Edwards’ style is very very readable, often ironic and he uses a lot of very worthwhile examples and case-studies to illustrate his text. He’s also extremely well-read, citing everything from Plato to contemporary sources.
If you’ve not studied sociolinguistics in detail before, this is an very good place to start, to get you up to speed and give you an awareness of almost all the major issues that I think you’d need as background knowledge. Anyway, I have studied sociolinguistics for some time and so a lot of this wasn’t new for me. It was good to revisit some areas I haven’t looked at for a while though.
In fact, if you’ve never even thought about the world of languages, I’d recommend reading this, particularly if you are monolingual. If you do only speak one language, you’re one of a minority and you’d be better informed if you read this.
My only gripe is that it hasn’t been updated since 1994.
rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb