Obligatory "ignore this space" : https://sacoronavirus.co.za

The prefix meta is a very useful one, but one which receives more than its fair share of abuse. To explain what a prefix is we must necessarily discuss how words are formed in a language. If we allow language to mean the set of valid words and, broadly speaking, how we may string them together, word formation might be described as meta-language. But it might also be described as linguistics. Those who are not terribly fond of an optimized vocabulary might well bethink themselves that a philologist would discourage the use of prefixed words. Even if they've done a course in discrete mathematics which is sold as language theory.

But this said, we might suggest that there are such people as language theoreticians, apart from philologists, and give to them the study of meta-language.

We state the obvious because those without formal education might have been led to invalid conclusions, and thus if they read something which contradicts what they believe, they are unlikely to recall the obvious facts of their own will: science is founded on us doing our best to be objective.

Part of the observing of a language is the deciding of whether something written in it is good or bad literature. If a work was decided, unanimously, to be unquestionably good English, for example, no matter the behaviour of the author when his pen was down, it would require the formation of a new language for these works to later be stripped of their merits on account of arbitrary rules that have been laid down subsequently.

In fact, the rules would create a new language.

If you really want to piss on my battery, tell me to dumb down the way I speak in order to make myself comprehensible to ignoramuses, or tell me that my style is affected.

Only an author can know if his affectations are deliberate or not. Some people won't get my sense of humour; I also believe some people can't. Indeed I believe some people fear that all satire is directed at them.

The favourite study for the layman is the human animal. There are those who prefer to observe this creature in the aggregate of its behaviour in the present moment or as near as damn-it to the present moment. But when we consider rules laid down for the behaviour of language, and the actual behaviour of speakers, we might think that with a library we have just as good a way to get to know about people in the abstract as a totalitarian leader who monitors his populace over the course of a generation.

Some people might tell an avid reader that they're introverted. It's usually a good idea to ignore them, for people who spend all day drinking with their mates are certainly well documented by just about every good author. The best authors, in my opinion, don't condemn such behaviour at all (quite the contrary).

But the study of people, anthropology, which we might just as well call meta-people, tends to bring any dinner-talk, if there is a bachelor around, to the question of evidence that he is aware that while gravity keeps us on the ground, the origin of life is not so much a mystery as something which almost certainly will bring him into contact with interests which are all consuming.

And which interests have little to do with being objective.

Metascience, as dinner talk, is neck-and-neck with jokes brought up which involve people getting their stomachs pumped. It's a very simple one, because while the study of language or people brings us to rules that are very commonly broken, metascience is a discussion about natural laws which, if broken, show us that the science needs patching.

The involvement of contradictory data that we cannot personally verify seems to be of little import.

We do an injustice to both language and people when we gloss over the necessary hesitation that comes about when we're unsure whether to refer to our nephews, for example, as boys or men, by making use of the word teenager. Because of this word we find it uncomfortable to call a boy a young man, just in case the word boy might offend him. The word teenager is no less offensive.

With any luck this tedious detour can be recognized as a necessary one to avoid the otherwise valid accusation that this author is making use of archaisms by describing a young man and his girlfriend seated at a dinner table.

We think the young lady (we hope to call her that) would be the most offended by the exhalation of hot air by her uncles (most likely) who are talking about the vacuum of space. Boys and girls who have not thought about novel ways of weighing things are likely to be at a disadvantage (we refer the curious to the Cavendish scale). Lighthearted discussions about experiments with gravity which make use of public funds, but which are not available for public inspection, might bring a cynical old man to break the table.

"Get the fuck out of my house!"

Putting myself in the young man's shoes instead, he simply says with a cynical leer that vacuums preclude things in them, let alone things in them being connected; but now the discussion is sure to come round to apps which crash.

People are quite particular about the features they cannot do without. Even English teachers find themselves taking away the matter of language theory and making it a matter of defacto standards. Grammar checkers exist: therefore the theoretician must be wrong.

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