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About the SeriesThe SAGE Key Concepts series provides students with accessible and authoritative knowledge of the essential topics in a variety of disciplines. Cross-referenced throughout, the format encourages critical evaluation through understanding. Written by experienced and respected academics, the books are indispensable study aids and guides to comprehension.Key Concepts in Education provides students with over 100 essential themes, topics and expressions that Education students are likely to encounter, both during their courses and beyond in professional practice. Co-authored to draw on experiences of working within academia, local authorities and the classroom, the entries provide:a definition of the concepta description of the historical and practical contextan explanation of how the concept is appliedan evaluation of the concepthelpful references and suggested further readingThis book will be essential reading for students of Education, and an invaluable reference tool for their professional careers. About the AuthorsFred Inglis is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Sheffield. Lesley Aers is a senior member of a local authority school improvement service and an Ofsted inspector. Both authors are former schoolteachers.  


The word ‘language’ derives from the word for ‘tongue’. This is understandable, as the sounds required for language are made by different positions of the tongue. The principle of language depends on a particular sound or group of sounds representing a specific object (or person, place, action, feeling and so on). A linguist would refer to the signifier (usually a word, but there is also sign language), and the signified (what the word represents). The term ‘language’ refers to the overall concept and also to individual languages (which are sometimes called ‘tongues’).

Language is an astonishing phenomenon and is the subject of massive study and research. It is thought that a language system, with distinct and distinguishable sounds, developed over 100,000 years ago (this has ...

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