We all use language to communicate information, but is is language play which is truly central to our lives. Verbal fireworks are a vital part of flirting with potential partners and putting down rivals. Healthy couples, families and groups of friends splatter their conversations with funny voices, in-jokes and invented words. Yet despite their importance, many linguists, teachers and other language professionals virtually ignore the playful elements of language. In this scholarly but exhilarating and often hilarious book, David Crystal brilliantly redresses the balance. He examines why we devote so much time and energy to language games, and how professionals - from comedians and copy writers to theologians - make a career of them. Full of lost consonants, comic alphabets, groan-worthy gags and witty repartee, this book restores the fun to the study of language. It also demonstrates why all these things are essential elements of what makes us human.