In the study of language the late 1980s may be seen in retrospect as an era of consolidation. No moderately aware eye will miss the epidemic of encyclopaedias of that time, their didactic sameness masked by a variety of style, even a desperate individuality. Some spread a single topic (say, dialectology) over an ample volume; some report on a kaleidoscope of topics under a summary, not always illuminating, heading (say, grammar). Some are terse and sober lexicons; some, like advertisers, seek their targets with a fine typographic frenzy. All suggest, no doubt involuntarily, that language and its study had for the moment stood still and might, while they caught their breath, conveniently sit for their portrait. And that is not a false picture. It is not a true one, either. The truth is, as ever, muddy. Language is, after all, the medium of human interaction. Like humans, it is very rich in associations and enterprises and achievement, and fearfully complex in its own being. Neither it, nor its pursuit by scholars, ever stands still; even in apparently dormant parts lies a restless tic. At its heart are the sounds we use, the patterns we honour (however inadequately), the meanings we exploit; and phonology, grammar and semantics are their respective sciences.