The sociologist Morris Janowitz once said that the goal of theory is to make the obvious inescapable. By that criterion, this book contributes to theory. To be sure, its articles are about specific places and regions. Each tells about a particular situation. There is little or nothing of causal hypothesis and correlation, of typology and dimensions for comparative framework, or model building of other kinds. And such things should be a goal, whether we call the sphere of our activity 'sociology of language ' 'sociolinguistics', 'ethnography of communication', or something else. But it is difficult to reach that stage of theory, when so many find the obvious quite escapable indeed. This book contributes to theory, then, by helping to make palpable the pervasive linguistic inequality of our world. It is not that there are writers who deny that multilingualism exists, that standard languages exist, that language minorities exist, that languages sometimes are dominated, sometimes die. It is just that the part of the mind or the faculty which knows these things is isolated from the part that knows what is called 'theoretical linguistics'. Nor is this a new thing. It sterns from the beginnings of modern linguistics in the United States. The functional equality of all languages has been a tenet of the faith from the founders of structural linguistics to most practitioners of linguistics today. It is unacceptable in most respectable linguistic circles to suggest that one language is less capable in some respect than another, or that some users of a language are different in one or more abilities from other users. These facts of everyday experience, these realities of language use in so much of the world and every educational system, 'fade into air, into thin air', when linguists speak in their professional capacities as linguists.