Metalinguistic Awareness

HANDBOOK OF PRAGMATICS, Jan-Ola Östman, Jef Verschueren, Jan Blommaert, Chris Bulcaen, eds., Kluwer, 2003

HANDBOOK OF PRAGMATICS HIGHLIGHTS, Jef Verschueren & Jan-Ola Östman, eds., Kluwer, 2010

25 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2006 Last revised: 27 Sep 2010

See all articles by Elizabeth Mertz

Elizabeth Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison; American Bar Foundation

Jonathan Yovel

NYU School of Law - Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice; University of Haifa - Faculty of Law; Yale Law School

Date Written: September 26, 2010

Abstract

Theories of metalanguage have a long and venerable history in a number of traditions, from logic through cognitive science. However in recent years, an exciting new approach to the study of metalanguage - focused upon the issue of metalinguistic awareness - has emerged from empirical research on language pragmatics and metapragmatics. This work moves beyond an older conceptualization of metalanguage as language that talks about language, analyzing in depth how metalanguage also creates, structures, and forms language and ongoing speech. Speakers have varying degrees of awareness of metalanguage as it both refers to and performatively formulates communication. At times, participants explicitly recognize a metalinguistic level that structures their conversation. At other times the structuring role of metalanguage may be partially or completely concealed, operating in subtle ways of which speakers are partially or totally unaware. Even in these instances, speakers' partial awareness - or even total misunderstanding - of metalanguage can help to shape linguistic interaction. Understandings and misunderstandings of the role of metalanguage may also be regularized in the form of socially-shared 'linguistic ideologies'. In this paper we outline the implications of the new, empirically-informed approach to metalinguistic awareness, locating this scholarship in relation to work on metalanguage from a number of other traditions.

Keywords: Metalinguistic awareness, Metalanguage, Metaparagmatics, Linguistic performance, Language aquisition

Suggested Citation

Mertz, Elizabeth Ellen and Yovel, Jonathan, Metalinguistic Awareness (September 26, 2010). HANDBOOK OF PRAGMATICS HIGHLIGHTS, Jef Verschueren & Jan-Ola Östman, eds., Kluwer, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=950741

Elizabeth Ellen Mertz

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Jonathan Yovel (Contact Author)

NYU School of Law - Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice ( email )

New York
United States

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203.435.5911 (Phone)

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