Metalanguage (174 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • Editors
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


Structural linguistics brought the term “meta” to prominence in the 1960s as it attempted to provide a scientific account of language acquisition and debated the innateness (or not) of human understanding of grammar. According to Roman Jakobson, whilst it is evident that linguisticians use a metalanguage to talk about language, it is also true that native speakers develop ways of talking about linguistic processes, and these discourses are crucial to the development and correct functioning of the language itself.

Jakobson’s ideas were hotly contested by Deconstructionists, Lacanian psychoanalysts and Poststructuralists who followed Heidegger and Wittgenstein in holding that the idea of a language that stands outside …

Editors. "Metalanguage". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 November 2007
[, accessed 29 April 2017.]

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here.