Metapragmatics refers to the phenomenon of language use itself becoming the object of discourse. As Judith Bridges (a current Ph.D. student in our Linguistics and Applied Language Studies program) has observed, the word “mansplain” is a perfect example of metapragmatics. When a person says that someone else has “mansplained” a given topic, that speaker is not just providing a neutral account of what happened; instead, s/he is providing a particular interpretation of a prior interaction.
Furthermore, as Judith points out, “mansplain” is an especially interesting example to explore because it sheds light on gender-related norms, dynamics, and expectations in communicative interactions. In her article, just published in the journal, Discourse, Context and Media, Judith examines how the various meanings of “mansplain” (and related forms) are constructed and negotiated in a sample of 200 tweets and Facebook posts.