chapter  17
13 Pages

Development of Meta-Abilities and Regulatory Mechanisms in the Use of Linguistic Structures by Children: Jean Emile Gombert

In its linguistic sense, then, metalinguistics pertains to linguistic activity that focuses on language. In a functional perspective, which views language in operation as it is used by real speakers, this metalinguistic level of language-where the language's signifiers become the signified-is given considerable importance and is granted a new status in the subject's activity of language. Thus, as Benveniste (1974) stated, the metalinguistic faculty is the "ability we have to distance ourselves from it, contemplate it, while still using it in our reasoning and our observations" (my translation). Nevertheless, from his viewpoint metalinguistics is restrictively dependent upon the capability of language to refer to itself (Bonnet & Tamine-Gardes, 1984). This meaning of the term is very different from the one currently used in psycholinguistics.