Metalinguistic Function

What is the metalinguistic function

The metalinguistic function refers to the use of language to explain itself, that is, to explain the language code. In other words, it is the language we use to describe and reflect on language itself.

This function of language is frequently used, both at the oral and written level, when trying to explain the code of the language, its form and its functioning.

Therefore, in the grammar the metalinguistic function of language is recurrently used. For example, “The qualifying adjectives serve to indicate the quality of the subject”; “Prior to p Y b is always written m».

All speeches that explain the norms, rules and conditions for the correct use of the spoken or written language are speeches with a metalinguistic function.

The metalinguistic function expresses the concern and reflection on the elements of language, which allows clarifying doubts in the use of the language, understanding the meanings of words and functions and finding ways to express messages correctly.

In the metalinguistic function, italics are used to distinguish those words that are being talked about with respect to the utterance. For example, “The word the it only has an accent mark when it fulfills the function of a personal pronoun; on the contrary, the it functions as a masculine article”; “What does it mean Otorhinolaryngology?».

When there is no option to use italics, as is the case with handwriting, these words must be enclosed in quotation marks (“ ”).

The metalinguistic function is part of one of the six language functions identified by the linguist Roman Jackobson, and completes the group together with the appellative function, the referential function, the phatic function, the poetic function and the expressive or emotional function.

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See also language functions.