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 ?
The [object-language] is the very matter subject to logical investigation; metalanguage is the necessarily artificial language in which we conduct this investigation.
On the basis of the claim that artists have started to write literature that is in some sense reflexively about literature, Barthes then makes the further claim that today's literary language is in fact a language about language--a metalanguage in terms of which other, older literary discourse is describable as an object-language (98).
A metalanguage helps language-users detect and steer clear of expressions whose semantic polyfunctionality yields, among other pernicious paradoxes, the antinomy of the liar.
A slightly more nuanced definition runs thus: "[a] language rich enough for talking about some language (which may or may not be itself, or part of itself, and may or may not be an object language) is a metalanguage for the language which can be talked about" (Lacey 143).
Paper presented at the AARE Changing Climates: Education for Sustainable Futures: 30 November--4 December, Brisbane: Multiliteracies and a new metalanguage for the moving image.
Although in its rhetoric postmodern criticism might present its object as "created" or "constructed" by theoretical models and hence as two merging practices, the distinction between metalanguage and object language is in fact retained.
In the other semiotic systems--visual, technological, multimodal, live and aural--the ability to draw on a metalanguage to use in educational circles is not readily available.
Apart from Kress & van Leeuwen (1996), communication and media specialists have attempted to develop a metalanguage for visual literacy (Moore & Dwyer 1994, Horn 1998, Bonnici 1999).
As they look at the resources together, the teacher guides the discussion of the different texts in paper or electronic mediums using a shared viewing technique (see Zammit 1999) and introduces them to a visual metalanguage.
Questions are asked to assist in the critique and development of the students' visual metalanguage.
Talking about their design plan involves the class in the use of the metalanguage of visuals (particularly the layout and composition component), sharing amongst themselves as they make suggestions and draw the pages of their final hypermedia document.
The Multiliteracies Project promotes the development and use of a metalanguage to describe and understand current contexts, rather than a set of rules that overshadows and denies the lifeworlds of individuals.