Monday, 1 October 2012

Metaliterature - what meaning to have is this for meaning?

Not a review this time, more of a curiosity. It seems I'm receiving lots of hits from Russia (Здравствуйте России!) from people searching for the definition of "metaliterature". As such, it is something of a bespoke word, created to fit a need and probably not yet recognized outside literary theory / criticism circles (Merriam-Webster Online certainly don't like it). I was wondering what they typed in to end up here, so, for fun (it's not fun, sorry) I thought I'd bung it in Google Translate and see what came out. As it turns out, one needs a little hyphen for the rather ponderous machine to understand it, and even then only does half the job (meta seems to be meta in any language). 
Incidentally, below is, ironically, a Google Chrome Thesaurus definition* of "meta":

met·a Adjective /ˈmetə/
  1. (of a creative work) Referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential
Interestingly (not interesting, sorry) it says this for the full term, taken from a website which, despite having been on it several times, I'm not entirely sure what it's called (but is written by a Dr Wheeler who one would hope is a teacher, given his history of teaching people in US universities, although that may not be an essential criterion these days):

METALITERATURE: Literary art focused on the subject of literary art itself. Often this term is further divided into metapoetry, metafiction, and metadrama.
I'm pretty happy with my definition, and would welcome any comments to the contrary or, indeed, in support. I'm also happy to live in ignorance, so it's up to you**.

Meta-Literatur (German)
Meta-literaturo (Esperanto)
元文学 (Chinese - simplified)
μετα-λογοτεχνία (Greek)
मेटा साहित्य (Hindi - my favourite as is particularly pretty)
Meta-llenyddiaeth (Welsh!)
Meta-tài liệu (Vietnamese)
Meta-fasihi (Swahili)
Meta-bókmenntir (Icelandic)

*For a more interesting definition and in context, you should probably check out the Oxford Online Dictionary entry.

**You may consider this a fraudulent attempt to court mis-directed visits from random countries for no other reason that to clock up on hit-counts. You would be correct but also in danger of revealing the vanity of this whole set-up, so I would kindly ask that you don't tell anyone, okay?

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