Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 10. Number 2. June 2019                                                     Pp. 3-15

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Metaoperational Linguistics: Issues of Translatability and Visibility


 Kahlaoui Mohamed-Habib
English Department, College of Arts & Social Sciences,
Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman



This paper aims to explore the reasons behind the limited dissemination of Adamczewski’s Metaoperational approach to language beyond the French academic sphere. The theory, which developed in and by contrastivity between 1976 and 2005, is built on the basic assumption that utterances exhibit on their surface observable traces of the utterer’s invisible structuring activity. It is  initially derived from a corpus-based approach to English and applied to languages as different as French, Arabic, Turkish, Madagascan, and Kwa languages. The theory’s visibility is investigated primarily in relation to its readability and translatability.The findings suggest that visibility retarders and obstructers are more associated with a general context of global scientific publication marked by the hegemony of English as the language of science  than with the theoretical framework itself. However, if the model’s body of knowledge and conceptual apparatus lend themselves to smooth interlingual transfer, as shown in books of Metaoperational inspirations in Spanish (Matte Bon (1992)), Italian (Gagliardelli (1999)), English (Adamczewski (2002)), and Arabic (Kahlaoui (2010)), the theory’s high degree of formalism and its dense metalinguistic description are in some didactic contexts generative of reader frustration.
Keywords: Enunciative approach, metalinguistic status, metaoperational linguistics, readability, translatability, visibility

Cite as: Kahlaoui, M.H. (2019). Metaoperational Linguistics: issues of translatability and visibility. Arab World English Journal,  10 (2) 3-15.


Dr. Kahlaoui Mohamed-Habib is a contrastivist, discourse analyst, and literary translator, Dr.
Kahlaoui Mohamed-Habib holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Contrastive Linguistics
from the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in France. He is currently teaching at Sultan Qaboos
University, Oman. His research work has appeared in English, Arabic and French in several
journals and proceedings of international conferences. He published in Arabic Text-Linguistics
لغوية نصية مقاربة: المتخيل فتنة في والميتالغوي اللغوي in 2010 and a translation of C. Achebe’s Things Fall
Apart (يتهاوى عالم (in 2014. ORCid: