"R M Dixon is a well known linguist who specializes in the aboriginal languages of Australia. In this captivating book, Dixon presents his theory of punctuated equilibrium (adopted from the idea of the same name by evolutionary theorists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge) to describe how languages change. Dixon challenges linguists to dedicate more time to the study and description of the thousands of languages on the verge of extinction, rather than devote their energies to arcane formalisms. The author is also highly critical of those historical linguists who claim to have found evidence for the "mother of all languages", accusing them of poor methodology. Historical linguistics involves slow and painstaking analysis of language forms, and Dixon is not the first to chastise newcomers for shoddy work. Dixon's book is not overly technical, and is thus suited for both a professional and a lay audience. Anyone interested in learning more about the evolution of language should read Dixon's latest work."