The Traps of the Written Language

The profound and surface structure of the language

The surface structure of the language is what we send strictly from the viewpoint of the content and refers to the words we use. The profound structure is all that we communicate without realizing it and what we communicate through the way we communicate. Apart from the non-verbal and para-verbal languages, another type of language reflects the profound structure: metalanguage.

When humans wish to communicate their representation, their experience of the world, they form a complete linguistic representation of their experience; this is called the Deep Structure. As they begin to speak, they make a series of choices (transformations) about the form in which they will communicate their experience. These choices are not, in general, conscious choices.” (The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1, page 35, by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, Science and Behavior Books/CA, 1975)

Meta” is a word that means “above” in Ancient Greek. In the current language, “meta” also means “about” or “located at an upper level”. “Meta” designates all that can be found at an upper level of abstraction or generality.

The metalanguage designates the process through which, while analyzing the words used to send a specific message, one highlights the message forwarded using words beyond words, leading to an accurate portrait of the state and even the personality of the one who has created a statement at one point. The metalanguage analysis can predominantly be used in psychotherapy, human resources, consumer behavior study, and interpersonal and organizational communication.

Suppose the analysis is performed on an already available message, which is finely “dissected” depending on specific criteria meant to be followed, being an advanced form of content analysis. In that case, the metalanguage strategy helps us create new messages, which we “craft” to surpass the receiver’s psychological barriers.

This implies the use of language in a controlled manner to direct the interlocutor’s perception toward the idea intended by the one who performs the persuasion step. It mainly applies to marketing, public relations, politics, sales, consultancy, coaching, psychotherapy, human resources management, and interpersonal and organizational communication.


Axes of the information dimension

The way we represent certain information to ourselves and present it to others creates certain representations for others and is a defining aspect of communication among people. In a controlled manner, it can also be a compelling means of persuasion. And this is precisely what this essay is all about. It describes the way specific patterns and styles of thinking can be used.

A tendency that might occur is putting labels on specific persons. Still, before rushing into that, I need to mention that these are merely communication styles and do not define a person’s personality.

The control over public opinion is performed employing language flexibility, through which one speculates the neurologic support of perceiving messages in an intentionally distorted manner. Not only do they intend to deliberately send messages with a specific load, but journalists have learned to edit materials in this respect. Practically, these are full of omissions, distortions, generalizations, and figures of speech. Besides decoding the metalanguage, it offers a perspective that is very different from the real one and produces wrong effects of suggestion to the reader.



Alexandrescu, Florin – Manipularea în mass-media, in Psihologia Azi, Capricorn Media, Bucharest, nr. 61/2003

Bandler, Richard; Grinder, John – The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1, Science and Behavior Books/CA, 1975

Bejan, Ştefania – Sistemul mass-media, class support, Comunicare Socială şi Relaţii Publice Vol. IV, Publishing House of the University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi, 2005

Budei, Radu – Citirea rapidă, Venus Publishing House, Iaşi, 2004

Cialdini, Robert B, – Influence – Science and practice, Harper Books, 1993

Dudău, Radu – Teorii ale limbajului, class support, Comunicare Socială şi Relaţii Publice Vol. IV, Publishing House of the University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi, 2005

Ficeac, Bogdan – Tehnici de manipulare, Nemira Publishing House, Bucharest, 2004

Institutul pentru Politici Publice ( – Barometrul de Opinie Publică, noiembrie 2004

Muşat-Coman, Carmen – O dată la patru ani suntem manipulaţi legal şi democratic, în Psihologia Azi, Capricorn Media, Bucharest, nr. 6/2004

Obae, Petrişor; Barbu, Petre – Cine sunt “informatorii” românilorCapital, Ringier România, Bucharest, nr. 18/2005

Pease, Allan; Garner, Alan – Limbajul Vorbirii, Polimark, Publishing House, Bucharest, 1998

Szekely, Andy – NLP – Calea succesului, Amaltea Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003

Marcus Victor Grant

Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2005-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Capcanele limbajului scris “previously published by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the 10th of September 2012 on Discerne. Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Initially written in 2005.

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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