Sunday, April 12, 2009

etymology: meta- in metanarration

prefix meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond," from Gk. meta (prep.) "in the midst of, among, with, after," from PIE *me- "in the middle" (cf. Goth. miþ, O.E. mið "with, together with, among," see mid). Notion of "changing places with" probably led to senses "change of place, order, or nature," which was the principal meaning of the Gk. word when used as a prefix. Third sense, "higher, beyond," is due to misinterpretation of metaphysics (q.v.) as "transcending physical science."

metanarration (Bauman p98)
"By metanarration, I mean those devices that index or comment on the narrative itself (such as message, generic form and function, and discourse) or on the components or conduct of the storytelling event (including participants, organization, and action" (Babcock 1977).

In logic and linguistics, a metalanguage is a language used to make statements about statements in another language which is called the object language. Formal syntactic models for the description of grammar, e.g. generative grammar, are a type of metalanguage. More broadly, it can refer to any terminology or language used to discuss language itself—a written grammar, for example, or a discussion about language use.

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