This brief volume is a contribution to the Oxford introductions to language study series, a set of nontechnical guides to various aspects of the study of language, intended for the general reader with no formal background in linguistics. This book, like the others in the series, is not intended to be a systematic introduction to its subject but rather is designed to give readers a general sense of historical linguistics and to steer them in the direction of further readings. The book is divided into four parts. The first and largest part comprises eight brief essays that treat: (a) the fact that languages evolve over time and attitudes toward them change, (b) data and evidence for reconstructing linguistic history, (c) lexical change, (d) grammatical change, (e) phonological change, (f) language contact, (g) explanations for language change, and (h) recent developments in historical linguistics. The remaining parts of the book contain brief excerpts from readings, further readings, bibliographic references, and a glossary.