(174 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

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 …

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Editors. "Metalanguage". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 November 2007
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