Archive for the ‘Metalinguistics’ Category

Metalinguistic tasks

August 12, 2017

In a recent One Big Happy, Ruthie’s father tries to get her to play with tongue twisters, but she treats the texts as stories about events in a real world:

Playing with tongue-twister texts is metalinguistic behavior, an activity in which bits of language are treated as objects in themselves, rather than being used to report, inquire, exclaim, instruct, etc. Small children (as above) and people in nonliterate societies are known for sometimes resisting metalinguistic talk of various kinds, instead confining themselves to concrete talk — what I’ll call planolinguistic talk (suggesting ‘flatly linguistic’, rather than ‘beyond and above’ language).

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