A study of the more than two hundred different Aboriginal languages of Australia
Professor Dixon deals first with the general character of these languages, and their use and role in Australia today. He stresses that they are in no sense ''primitive'' languages, but have a rich and complex grammar with the many subtle and distinctive features. He goes on to demonstrate this in the first-ever study of their genetic relationships, probable origins and historical development, and their grammatical and phonological behaviour. This is in many ways a pioneering work, and a fundamental one. The Press has already published two major scholarly studies by Professor Dixon of individual Australian languages, Dyirbal and Yidin. He offers here the synthesis that they pointed towards, provisional still in many of its details, but sufficiently convincing in outline to stimulate the next stage of professional research, to provide the general linguist with the kind of survey to the interested Australian something of the extraordinary linguistic heritage of the continent, now and for some time past seriously at risk.