metalanguage

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metalanguage

[′med·ə‚laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)
A programming language that uses symbols to represent the syntax of other programming languages, and is used chiefly to write compilers for those languages.

metalanguage

any ‘second order’ language used to discuss a language; any set or system of propositions about propositions.

Metalanguage

 

a basic concept in modern logic and theoretical linguistics, used in studying the languages of various mathematical logical calculi, natural languages, and the relations between languages of different “levels” and for determining the relations between the languages under consideration and the object realms that these languages describe.

Metalanguage is a language used to express judgments about another language, the object-language. Metalanguage is employed in the study of the structure of the sign-combinations (expressions) of an object-language, and in the demonstration of theorems about the object-language’s expressive, and perhaps deductive, capacity and about its relation to other languages. Like the object-language, the metalanguage may also be an ordinary (natural) language. The metalanguage may differ from the object-language (for example, in an English-language textbook for Russians, Russian is the metalanguage and English is the object-language), or it may coincide, or partly differ from it, for example, as far as special terminology is concerned. Russian linguistic terminology, for example, is a part of metalanguage for the description of Russian; semantic factors belong to a metalanguage that describes the semantics of natural languages.

The concept of metalanguage was introduced and became extremely productive in connection with the study of formalized languages—calculi constructed within the framework of mathematical logic. In contrast to formalized object-languages, metalanguage—which is used to formulate a metatheory for the study of an object-theory formulated in the object-language—is, as a rule, an ordinary natural language or, more precisely, part of a natural language that has been specially limited so as not to contain any ambiguities, metaphors, metaphysical concepts, or other elements of ordinary language that hinder its function as an instrument of precise scientific research. At the same time, metalanguage itself may be formalized, and, independently of this, may be the object of study of a metametalanguage, and so on, in a series that may conceivably progress ad infinitum.

However, as an instrument in the metatheoretical study of formalized languages that permit versatile and orthodox enough interpretations in the logical sphere, the metalanguage should in no way be “poorer” than its object-language (that is, each expression of the object-language should be “translatable” into the metalanguage); the metalanguage should contain expressions of higher “logical types” than does the object-language. Failure to fulfill these requirements (which inevitably occurs in natural languages if special steps are not taken) leads to semantic paradoxes (antinomies).

REFERENCES

Tarski, A. Vvedenie v logiku i metodologiiu deduktivnykh nauk. Moscow, 1948. (Translated from English.)
Kleene, S. C. Vvedenie v metamatematiku, Ch. 1. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from English.)
Church, A. Vvedenie v matematicheskuiu logiku, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960. (Introduction.) (Translated from English.)
Curry, H. B. Osnovaniia matematicheskoi logiki, chs. 1–3. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
IU. A. GASTEV and V. K. FINN

metalanguage

(1)
[theorem proving] A language in which proofs are manipulated and tactics are programmed, as opposed to the logic itself (the "object language"). The first ML was the metalanguage for the Edinburgh LCF proof assistant.

metalanguage

(2)
[logic] A language in which to discuss the truth of statements in another language.

metalanguage

The language used to describe a language. "Noun," "verb" and "adjective" are metalanguage examples. See metadata.
References in periodicals archive ?
Following Lakoff and Johnson's analysis of the conduit metaphor, the following three metaphor themes summarize the ontological and epistemological properties of words, meanings, and communication:
While many who have investigated the conduit metaphor after Reddy have shared his distaste for it, it is not necessary to blame anything on it in order to realize that it is a remarkably poor model of what actually occurs in human spoken communication.
For writing, on the other hand, the conduit metaphor is not quite such a terrible match.
Note that if we posit a theoretical "inside" to a word, containing the real meaning that is only signified by the "outside," we get not only the missing pieces of the conduit metaphor as applied to writing, but also a replication--lodged in the collective unconscious--of the (pre)historical transition from tokenized accounting to cuneiform writing.
As Reddy points out, the inherent danger of the Conduit Metaphor is that it makes us think of communication as a simple process, like a drive-in bank's pneumatic tube, one that "guarantees success without effort" (p.
While Reddy's analysis of the Conduit Metaphor suggests its importance in our thinking about English, Reddy, Lakoff and Johnson missed what seems to me an obvious anatomical source for the prevalence of that metaphor.
Reddy's examples of the Conduit metaphor are identical to the phrases men use to describe their experience of coitus; the congruity shows the intimate connection men perceive between women and language as "vessels":
From the viewpoint presented here, so called cross-cultural dialogue is not dialogical because its reliance upon the conduit metaphor prevents participants in dialogue to perceive each other as forming a unique human system.