this post is totally metameta

This blew my mind.

So my favourite words are usually prefixes: quasi-, ante-, meta- (I’m an Oxford student, ok, allow me to fulfil at least SOME of the stereotypes of being a pretensious ass).

BUT.

GUESS WHAT.

The use of ‘meta’ in metaphysics, metafiction, metaemotion as meaning “about”, or “an abstraction of” or let’s put it simply, the physics of physics (philosophy) fiction about fiction, emotion about emotion etc is BASED ON A MISINTERPRETATION of the original use of ‘metaphysics’!

BRB MIND BLOWN.

In Ancient Greek, “meta” links to “change” or “after, higher, beyond” (all of which come from the Proto-Indo European root “*me-” which has to do with “in the midst of”, like, in the midst of something suggests being interchangeable suggests change i dunno PIE is a hot mess) ANYWAY originally “metaphysics” refered to that which was after the Physics, i.e. after Aristotle’s writings on physics. It did not mean “scientific thought beyond actual scientific thought” i.e. philosophy.

I’m so heartbroken! No longer can I say “that’s so meta”! 😦

… or can I?

Listen, this is my favourite things about languages. Words can change meaning and the new meaning is just as legitimate as the old one. Even more so, in this case. Think of all the words which have changed meaning and whose older meanings are now defunct and coutnerintuitive: punk (whore), awful (awe-inspiring), prove (test).

Languages change, evolve, grow, breathe, shape history and are shaped by it. This is why I get so irritated about people who are pernickety about ‘correct’ usage and ‘original’ meaning not changing. No, meta did not originally mean what it means today. That doesn’t make its current users ignorant or wrong. It makes them progressive without knowing it.

Languages are wonderful.

O HI THAR I’M A LINGUISTICS GEEK

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