In this text, Hilary Wise presents an overview of the lexis of the contemporary: its historical sources, formal organization and social and stylistic functions. Topics covered include: External influences on the language, word formation, semantic change, and style and register. In addition, the author examines the relation between social and lexical change, as well as at attempts to intervene in development of the French language. Each chapter is concluded by notes for further reading and suggestions for project work. These have been designed to increase awareness of specfic lexical phenomena, and enable the student-reader to use lexicographic data-bases of all kinds.