To play with language is to break its rules, disrupt its patterns, exploit its weak points. Thus, paradoxically, puns and spoonerisms, neologisms, and slogans reveal and highlight the patterns to which discourse conforms -- patterns which reflect the linguistic competence of language speakers.Only those who have linguistics competence can play with it: thus language games and the poetic use of language are underpinned by unconscious use of linguistic analysis. Using Lewis Carroll's Alice as a starting point, Marina Yaguello takes the reader on an unconventional voyage around language, charting the major themes of linguistics on the way. She shows that we can come to an understanding of language in general and of particular languages through exploring thedevices of humour, word-games, and poetry -- devices which reveal the unconscious linguist in all of us. The result is an entertaining but rigorous introduction to language and linguistics for non-specialists and students alike.