This book is aimed at a general audience. Its aim is to engage readers in thinking critically about the words in their world and about the linguistic practices in which they participate. Linguistic practices are ways of doing things with words, and they are tied to particular communities, some face-to-face and small (a classroom) and others vast and ‘imagined’ (a nation). The politicization of social identities has gone hand in hand with politicization of language, and this book tries to provide insight into those connections. Social power can confer linguistic privilege but the disempowered can find words enormously useful for resisting. It is hard to talk about contentious language without raising immediate emotional responses, visceral reactions to proposed reforms or resistance to them. The book aims not to promote particular ways of speaking but to get readers thinking about their own linguistic experiences in new ways.