March 2, 2014

Am i ok? I don't wanna talk about it.

You might wonder why a meta is loosely translated as the phenomenal difference between realism and idealism or what one scaffolds with the other for its objective realty is said to be a meta. Those who are not  happy with the philosophical redundancies as their connection to each of  their  metaphysical properties in question may prefer a simple linguistics explanation but might then still  wonder why a linguistic meta is the difference between a objective realty of a given speech and its deductible semantic validity or what one carries with the other is said to be a meta (a deadj noun). This was one of the issue in which many language bloggers had disputes in the last few weeks and in particular was on the take that what you see is what you get is not enough. I like writing something, but those who are still not happy with the linguistics redundancies on the issue might want to look at this little story and see why it is so analytic: 
Soon after i had left Sri Lanka in the 80s, i moved into an apartment where everyone spoke German except me, so i still had to speak German with one neighbor but in a recursive way of its metalanguage since i was not familiar with the object language, even for a word. From contexts, i understood that such an interrogation from the neighbor like ’Am i ok?’ did not mean to be of something like where a patient from English as a second language background would likely ask a medical doctor. A short reply to the question from a medical doctor would likely be ‘no problem’ or ‘yes, you do’,  but the reply like ‘yes, you do’ sounds very odd in the case of me and my neighbor for the reason that not only it doesn’t carry a figurative or pragmatic object equivalence in a discourse but also for the reason that it carries a meta which is just conative.
Even after i had learned to speak some spoken German, he kept the same interrogation ‘Am i ok?’ for its conventional counterparts but in a varying meaning in the latter period, whereas in the first period of time, it was just to make sure that i wasn’t bothered with his often invitations to have some beers with him, or with the answering all his curiosities and concerns, or with his offering to me to purchase some of his winter clothes while the winter was going to be no the way, and so on.  
The ‘Am i ok?’ in the later time, however, did not mean to be for the ‘Hope i am not disturbing you?’ but just for the same linguistic monism that connotes something of its similar semanntical meaning but at the same time having also non identical semantical properties. For example, the latter case here could only be interpreted, from the context, as ’I am good? or I am decent enough?’ as something that is characteristically self-referential (metalanguage) to its object language. 
Throughout the world and throughout history people have invented secret languages and language games. Sometimes words are used either as a means of identifying with a special group, or for fun, or to prevent others from knowing what are being said. When the aim is secrecy, sometimes we are puzzled, often for meaning, especially if something is attributed as a referent to a property of a word and we barely know about the abstraction of the attribution as to what it denotes or connotes exactly. Here I don’t go to a medical doctor to ask the question about what the meta has to do with metaphase or metaphysician. I think it is even better, at least personally, if i can just speak about the illnesses without studying all of those terminologies first and then going to see a medical doctor. In most cases here, i believe this approach can provide a better motivation for  health care than the second way. However, this analogy can only be of true manywhere but not in certin academia.

Certainly many of us can easily understand the meaning of the word ‘paraphrase’ but not the meaning of a word like ‘metaphrase’, or ‘metaphysical properties’,  or the meanings of  a few or many or all of these words: metaclause,  metasyntax, metalanguage, metaphor, metaphysics, metaphysicians, meta-tag, HTML-meta, metaphase , metabolism, metadiscourse, and meta-cafĂ©, meta-atom, meta-RSS, Meta-wordpress, etc, etc.  And certainly it does create confusions.

What does the meta have to do with the ‘metaphase’ in biology or the meta with the ‘metaphysician' in philosophy? Or why are some links called ‘metaphysical properties’ and some other links are called ‘meta-atom’?  Or is everything said to be of something meta? By the analogy, arguably though, a meta is a bound morpheme by a definition since it never occurs itself as a word. But a problem in this analogy, from their morphological standpoint, is that a word  like 'metaphase' (as it is used in biology) can  be deducted only as free morphemes and  a word like 'metaphysician' (as it is used in philosophy) can be deducted only as  stem morphemes. So, you might ask, is it then not a root morpheme?

Just that like about 4 years ago when a question came into play for its clarity as to if the word ‘Abugida’  is of the syllabic alphabet, or  semi-syllabary, or alphasyllabary, or  if all of these can mean the same thing or not and like how my post on this since then have often been an answer to those who have needed some more (which is now of course falsified), now is much better hope now that there would be some more explanations. Writing a language blog is easy and fun, but i have to admit that i have the same problem as well if there is conflicting opinions and explanations.

Still, it doesn’t matter that much. I write things for hobby. But the good thing is that it happens to be fond of problems with other millions of scholars for the same literacy even if we find it tempting when it comes to something like metaphysics or metaphysicians. Actually i am not--meta.  


  1. Would you be able to write any classical literature on this infinitive question-- ?

    This post has been left without an answer, but there seem some meta grammar to elaborate. I use the dictionary add on for a definition and literary usages, but there is not much about meta or meta grammar or infinitive literature.

    1. I am not sure if I understood you correctly. Metagrammar, a very ambiguous term by its usages, is usually the theory of the grammar itself whereas the grammar is the theory of a language. Alternatively tough, the difference between understood grammar (normative by nature) and the descriptive grammar (logical by nature) is also said to be so. But I guess you just want to know the nature of infinitive in these two examples: 'They pick young elm seeds to cook them as food at home.' and 'She put a fish in the pot to boil it.'.

    2. Lavin Smart
      Interesting but i am not sure if i want to write a post on this now. Nevill Fernando will be back to LangLing likely in April or May. You may want to post the question again in the Wikipedia, since there are some skilled writers for this sort. If your interest is only on the pretheoretical and posttheoretical implications that entered into the natural language that we know of as the verballities of the infinitive today, you may want to mention that as well. If they become strongly debated, certainly that would be then something for everyone.

    3. Anonymous21/3/14 11:28

      On the metagrammar of infinitive, there is no clear definition as such what it relates. But if we think of a language, we consider many of our a priori experiences as the transcendence to a meaning. These post-theoretical implications , rather than pre-theoretical implications are backbone of a metalanguage. However, a metalanguage is not always referred as the linguistic mechanism for the reduction of its literal meaning.

      Then the same take only goes for many other complications. For example, an infinitive clause like ‘…except that (…infinitive) (…object/complement)’ is not verifiable from many our corpus conventions without the inclusion of a verb for its varbality since it begin with the complementizer ‘that’. This is also called as the metagrammar of the infinitive, for the reason that the complementizer had its grammatical transcendence and an added literal meaning.

  2. Luther Blissett2/6/15 15:47

    The Lingua France Blog post of today in Chronicle by Geoffrey Pullum gives a much better explanation on metadata. But i have to disagree with Pullum for his generality as much as i do with your post on 'metaphase' in biology or 'metaphysician' in philosophy as to their morphological stand point.

    'Meta' is, at least i like to argue, a concept which is applicable in varieties of contexts without having a finite definition, usually refer to 'something out of'.

    And i have to disagree with your take that 'meta' in philosophy is as the phenomenal difference between realism and idealism. In philosophy, mostly in academic philosophy, the concept 'metaphysical properties' is always widely misunderstood just as Adam Smith concept of Wealth of Nation.

    In general, when we look at 'metaphysical properties' in geology, we look at astronomy, but if we look at 'metaphysical properties' in philosophy, we look at worldly phenomena in their objective validity.

  3. Anonymous3/6/15 08:50

    Just want to let you know that not only just this post page but many of your pages have now problem displaying the contents correctly.

    When i vied this page and other pages some while ago, they appeared to be alright. Now many original weblinks are missing or having irreverent and different links instead. And many insertions of numbers and other characters as if they were real or original appears to be the act of message shoot, since bloggers cannot edit certain blogger contents after they have been published. But it is what intruders do for they practices, and blogger cannot do anything.

    On the page size and overlap however, i think it is a cause due to the improper page setting. Looks like you have 1200px but no 'auto' resize. Those who have small size screens likely would experience the page overlap here. If you can change the page setting as 'auto', pages would display full within any size screens.