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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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