This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the French language from the perspective of modern linguistics. Placing French within its social and historical context, the authors highlight the complex, diverse aspects of the language in a lively and accessible way. A variety of topics is covered, including the distribution of French in the world, the historical development of standard French, the sound system of French, its sentence patterns, and its stylistic and geographical variations. Fully updated and revised, this new edition places a greater emphasis on sociolinguistics. To make the book more user-friendly, the following new features have been added: * a further reading guide at the end of each chapter * a glossary of linguistic terms * an expanded bibliography and index.