The Meta-Model of Language

A tool for recovering the information we lose as we trim our experience of the world to fit the language we have to describe it.





1.  Nominalisations.Process words frozen in time in the form of nouns.

“Communication is a problem”

Recover the lost verb“who is communicating?”  “how are you communicating that’s causing a problem?” “What are you communicating?” Recovers the active verbs. Who what and how…..
2.  Mind-ReadingClaiming to know the “mind” or internal state of another person

“You have a problem with authority.”

Question the evidence base.“What lets you know….”

“What leads you to believe that?”

Recovers the process & Reveals the source, evidence or methodology
3.  Cause-EffectCause linked to response without explained process

“You make me angry when you shout…”

Question the process.“How does me shouting lead you to feeling angry?”

“How do you do that?”

Recover the choice by questioning the methodology.
4.  Complex Equivalence“Her frowning means she doesn’t like me.” Question the assumption that EB=IS.“How does her frowning mean she doesn’t like you? “Haven’t you ever frowned at someone you like?” Recover external behaviour and internal state & Identifies complex equivalenceOffers counter example
5. Presuppositions“If you knew the importance of qualifications you would study harder.” Question the assumptions.“So I’m not studying hard enough?”  “What lets you know I don’t understand the importance?” Recover the ideas not stated yet assumed.





6.  Universal QuantifiersWords that infer universality

All, everyone, never etc.  “You always say that”

Question the universality. Offer counter examples.“Have you ever known me not to say that?” Recovers exceptions and recovers the current situation.
7.  Modal Operatorsa) Necessity – Should/Shouldn’t, Need to, Must/Mustn’t etc.

“I shouldn’t have to…”

b) Possibility – Can/can’t, will/won’t, may/may not etc.

“I just can’t do that”

Question the possible outcomes or barriers.“What would happen if you did?

“What stops you?”

Recovers personal choice and power.Reveals barrier, both real and imaginary

Reveals thinking mode

Reveals beliefs and values

8.  Lost PerformativeJudgements made without reference to the source

“It’s wrong to judge others.”

Question the source of the evaluation.“Who says it’s wrong.”

“Where do you get that idea?”

Recovers source & Reveals lack of evidence





9.  Simple Deletions“I am unhappy” Question to find the missing information“Unhappy about what?” Recover the deleted information
10.  Comparative DeletionsUses unreferenced comparisons. Good, better, slower etc.

“I’m slower at this….”

Question to understand the comparisons being made.“Slower than whom?”

“Slower at this than what?”

“Slower than at which other time?”

Recovers the deleted comparisons and references themReveals lack of evidence
11.  Lack of Referential Index.Person or thing not specified

“They don’t listen to me?”

Question to find the unspecified person or thing.“Who specifically doesn’t listen? Recovers the deleted reference
12.   Unspecified VerbsVerbs which have the action unspecified.

“You don’t care about me.”

Question to find the action“What do I do that lets you know I don’t care?”

“How do I not care about you?”

Recovers the deleted actionReveals the complex equivalence. / Cause effect
13. Unspecified ProcessesAdverbs modifying verbs

“Surprisingly my father lied about his drinking”

Question to find the lost verb“What surprised you about your father’s drinking” Recovers the process the person uses to get into a state 


14. Unspecified ProcessesAdjective modifying nouns

“I don’t like unclear people.”

Question to find the lost noun“People who you consider unclear in what way?” Recovers the projected nominalisation, the process of judging